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Scientific Studies

The scientific studies listed below document the benefits of learning Sign Language. Click on the bullet point next to each listing for more detailed information about a particular study.

Joseph Garcia's 1987 Master's Program Research at Alaska Pacific University establishes that babies can use signs to communicate
Dr. Kimberlee Whaley's 1999 pilot study at The Ohio State University, indicates that Sign Language helped to facilitate communication between babies and their caregivers
In a longitudinal study funded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn discovered that babies exposed to Signs outperformed non-signing babies in comparison after comparison.
Researchers have found that early exposure to Sign Language is linked to increased vocabulary and improved reading skills.
A variety of studies demonstrate that there is a common neurological foundation between the areas of the human brain responsible for language development and the areas responsible for motor coordination.
Deborah A. Cutter, Psy.D., MFT and Susan M. Zneimer, Ph.D., FACMG hypothesize that early acquisition of American Sign Language may be an innovative approach for treating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Joseph Garcia became interested in the idea of using Sign Language as a tool for communication with pre-verbal babies when he noticed that babies raised in the Deaf Community were using Sign Language to communicate from a very young age. His formal research began in 1987 as part of his Masters Program at Alaska Pacific University. The objective of his study was to determine the age at which infants can use expressive communication, and to learn what role signing could play in this process.

Seventeen families participated in Mr. Garcia's initial study. The results of the study indicated that babies who are exposed to signs regularly and consistently at six to seven months of age can begin to use expressive communication by the eighth or ninth month.

Through an initial pilot study conducted in early 1999, Dr. Kimberlee Whaley, discovered that babies as young as nine months of age could use Sign Language to communicate with their caregivers. Whaley notes, "It is so much easier for our teachers to work with 12-month olds who can sign that they want their bottle, rather than just cry and have us try to figure out what they want. This is a great way for infants to express their needs before they can verbalize them." Click here to read more about this pilot study.

In a longitudinal study involving 140 families, Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn discovered that babies exposed to signs outperformed non-signing babies in comparison after comparison. The study demonstrated that signing babies understood more words, had larger vocabularies, scored higher on intelligence tests, and engaged in more sophisticated play than did their non-signing counterparts.

Parents of signing babies in the study reported decreased frustration, increased communication, a deepened bond with their child, increases in their child's self-confidence as well as increases in their child's interest in books. Additionally, when Acredolo and Goodwyn revisited the families in the original study when the children were seven and eight years old they found that the children who signed as babies had a mean IQ of 114 compared to the non-signing control group's mean IQ of 102.

Click here to read about Acredolo and Goodwyn's methodology and latest findings.

In 1994, Marilyn Daniels first reported her findings that preschoolers who receive sign instruction test significantly higher on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test than do other preschoolers. She concluded that a child's vocabulary development can be enhanced by simultaneously presenting words visually, kinesthetically, and verbally. Other researchers have found a correlation between exposure to Sign Language and improved reading scores. You can read about these ideas further in the following journal articles and books:

      Daniels, M. (1994). The Effects of Sign Language on Hearing Children's Language Development. Communication Education, October, v43 n4, p291(8).
  Daniels, M. (1996). Seeing Language: The Effect Over Time of Sign Language on Vocabulary Development in Early Childhood Education. Child Study Journal, 26, 193-208.
  Daniels, Marilyn, Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children's Literacy. Bergin & Garvey, October 2000. ISBN: 0897897927.
  Hafer, Jan C, and Robert M. Wilson. Signing for Reading Success. Gallaudet University Press, December 1998. ISBN: 0930323181.

Refer to the following to find out more about Cutter and Zneimer's hypothesis that early acquisition of American Sign Language may be an innovative approach for treating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder:

      Click here (then click on PDF file referenced near the very bottom of the page entitled "Early Acquisition of ASL, an Innovative Approach to Treating ADHD.")

Please contact us if you know of other scientific research related to the benefits of Sign Language so that we may share this information with others.

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