Wednesday, November 5, 2014

General Meeting Minutes #5

Hi NSSLHA! A big thank you to all of our members that came out to our meeting yesterday despite the rainy weather we've been having. Below, a list of current and future point opportunities will be listed as well as a recap from our guest speakers from last night. I will also send out the powerpoint presented through email so please save that if you're interested in reading more in depth about their research or if you would like to email them with any questions!

Service Opportunities
Brook Elementary School SCORES Program: As mentioned last meeting, this event will begin this coming week on Tuesdays, from 8-10am as well as 1-2:40pm. Tasks include shadowing students that are being evaluated for Autism, documenting information from these students, seeing the teachers in action, and working with these students side by side.
The University of Texas Child Development Campus Book Drive: This event is ongoing as well, so please donate gently used children and parenting books. Remember: 2 books = 1 point. For NSSLHA points, please donate the books to the Leadership Suite at the BMC.
DSACT Speech Program: This event is a year-long service opportunity that starts January 2015 and ends December 2015. For a few hours 1-2 times a month on Saturdays you will assist in child-directed play, prepare the space for instruction, as well as aid families with behaviors.
Thanksgiving Baskets for Families in Need: Next meeting, November 18th, we will be making these basket during and after our meeting. Please bring in canned food donations. 4 cans = 1 service point, so please limit 1 point for donations. Also, try to bring a variety of canned foods, such as green beans and corn bread mix. 
REMINDER: Please turn in Volunteer Sign-Off Forms for individual volunteers events by the December 2nd meeting to Diana Mendoza. 
Austin Speech Labs Volunteers: 2 weeks of ASL = 2 service points. Please get signed off for at least 2 weeks to receive service point credit! 

Fundraising and Social Events 
Bake Sale: The bake sale has been postponed until next week, November 12 from 10-3, because of all the rainy weather that's supposed to continue through this week. Gabby should have emailed you if you had originally signed up for a shift. Please check the Facebook event for any other updates.
Texas School for the Deaf Football Game: Happening this Friday, November 7th! Tickets are between $3-5. Tyler has already sent out an email about this event, but in case you haven't checked rides will be meeting at Littlefield Fountain and will leave at 6:30. Please check out this spreadsheet for info!
Starbucks Study Session: Come out and study with us next Tuesday, November 11th at Starbucks on 24th from 8-10PM. You must stay for an hour for your social point to be counted.

Miscellaneous Points
Brown Bag Meet Ups: Ongoing! So please meet with your brown bag partner and don't forget to send a picture to Lindsey at
National Stuttering Association Open House: Monday November 10th at BUR 216 from 7-9pm. There will be free pizza and refreshments! Please RSVP to Ryan McDermott by November 8th at

Guest Speakers
Sign Language: Perspective from Language & Cognitive Development, Linguistics and Education 
Matthew Hall, Grace Hamilton & Leah Geer - University of Connecticut 

Leah Geer: PhD Student in the Linguistics Department at UT Austin
Sign language structure: focusing on differences between signed and spoken languages
Similarities: Multiple levels of structure, sub-lexical structure, and similar L1 acquisition patterns by native users

Signs have:
place of articulation: have to produce the sign somewhere, where it is just like in spoken language
movement: variation of the movements of sign and how they are created
palm orientation

Acquisition errors are just one of the ways to prove the existence of the aforementioned parameters. Acquisition errors in children demonstrate the awkwardness and incoordination and the errors that they make and how those are similar to those that speaking children make.

Videos presented last night featured a 17-month old baby signing :
Baby signing the word "elephant": Produced the sign in the wrong location and made it a more simple movement
Baby signing the word "flower": Simplification of the movement
Baby signing the word "lion": Changes the manner and location of the movement

Differences between signed and spoken languages
Rate of production: how fast someone can speak or sign
People can speak faster than they can sign because the tongue only has to move a small area while your arms have to make larger gestures; size of articulation
Whatever the concept is that you're trying to convey, it can take the same amount of time in both sign and speaking

Simultaneous layering of linguistic information
When you speak, you have different sounds in a sequential order, but in signs you have more stuff happening simultaneously
This means that the whole rate of production is slower, more information is conveyed per unit of time

In summary, signed languages and spoken languages have a lot of similarities but there are difference in modality.
In sign, you have both hands while in spoken language, you only have one tongue.

Matthew Hall: Post Doctoral Researcher at the University of Connecticut, PhD of Cognitive Psychology, studying language and cognitive development of deaf kids
Conducting research at TSD

Role of sign language in language development and cognitive development
Does sign language exposure threaten speech acquisition in deaf children?
Is deafness the root cause of cognitive problems in cochlear implant recipients?
The answer to both of those questions is no.

Don't oral kids do better?
"Children who sign make only about half the gains that children using full time oral communication make."

Better than whom?
Existing studies compare oral only vs. total communication
Total communication: technically defined as a philosophy that says we should use any and all communicative methods that can work for a child
In practice, it means that you speak perfectly grammatical English and occasionally accompany that by signs
Important to distinguish total communication from sign language that has natural modality
Sign language evolved naturally to have the patterns it needs to have

However, there is a third option.
Looking at kids who acquire ASL at a first language and thus prepares them for bilingual acquisition
of speech through a cochlear implant.
There was no evidence of this until 2 years ago.
Study conducted by Hassandzadeh
CI recipients from Deaf signing families performed better than CI recipients from hearing, non-signing families.
Last fall, a similar study was conducted on a comparison of CI recipients and their hearing siblings and their performance was just as well and better than previously reported findings from non-signing CI users on the same tasks

Language Development: Sign language does not threaten speech acquisition

Cognitive Development
Executive Function (EF): combination of skills that include attention, working memory, thinking ahead, and impulse control
Tasks can be created to measure the EF but this can also be observed by asking parents for a checklist of problem behaviors such as worse scores in deaf kids compared to hearing
A paper recently claimed that reduced access to auditory experience is responsible of the problems these children are having.

However, are these problems really about deafness?
Previously, a study reported elevated or impaired scores on the measure.
Scores that are higher up are bad, black lines are the medians.
If deafness is really the problem, that should only be the problem. But there is another possibility that language exposure is the actual problem.

The charts suggest that deafness isn't the culprit. It could be sign language but there is still a lot we don't know. Deaf and hearing families differ in many ways and there is no confirmed benefit. We also don't know how to transfer benefits from deaf children in deaf families to deaf children in hearing families. But we can try and get the information that is beneficial and transfer it to them.

Grace Hamilton: 5th Year PhD Student in the Special Education Department
Focused on emotional and behavioral disorders for hearing and deaf students

Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Educational Systems 
Possible issues that might appear with deaf children in public schools and mainstreaming 
How to work with a deaf or hard of hearing child in a public school setting and how it differs from deaf schools 

Scope of issues 
Deafness/hard of hearing, bilingual/bicultural, oral: highly contentious topic 
Competing ideologies: who gets the benefit?
Parental and family preferences: based on what the values are of their family, based on education, experiences, beliefs, family structure  
Identification and timing: when we notice that a child might be hearing different than what is expected, what is the reaction? when does intervention take place? 
Placement options: where the child goes to school 
Teacher qualifications: general vs. special education; how are teachers taught to work with children? 

Consideration of Access
Access to language, peers, opportunities of socialization 
Is a deaf child limited? How do these access issues impact the child?
Bilingual/Bicultural: some areas are very accepting and offer more options whereas other areas don't offer any options 
Education type: Total communication is not successful in the field. People will depend on how they gain the information, from either sign or spoken language 
ASL has its own language, however using Total Communication and general education systems cases the child to miss out. 
Educational interpreter can make or break the educational opportunities presented to the child 
Cultural, social and linguistic opportunities affects the child's success when they leave the educational system; What happens to them as an adult is based on their K-12 experience 

Teacher qualifications 
Concern is general education vs. special education 
General Education teachers are prepared to become a teacher but only take maybe 1-2 special education courses that briefly mention deaf or hard of hearing children. 
Although deafness and hard of hearing are low incident disabilities, there are a lot of needs that are not being met.
General education teachers have a lot of influence on these children and they are not being provided with the information that they need. 
Special education teachers are still not getting enough information either to work with these students. 
This is a systematic problem. 

IEP: Individualized Education Plan 
Here in Texas, they are called ARDs.
Deaf and hard of hearing children only have an IEP if their disability requires educational needs to access the curriculum. Some of these students are not placed in special education or are not needed to be placed in special education. 
These students are missing information and never have full access to the material that is being taught. Teachers need to become responsible, even if the child seems to be doing well. 
How we serve the field is not necessarily how we serve the child. Each child is unique in the assistance they need so we can't generalize the environment they need to be in. Each child's needs need to be met. 

We have to figure out a creative way to work with the parents as well as honoring their family values. Accommodations are dependent on the child. 

ASL is a language with its own systems. It IS a language, yet people still argue about it. It's an option that can prove to be beneficial and if it's not, that's okay too. 
Technology is ever-changing and has had a huge impact. This directly impacts the deaf community. 

Please take a look at the powerpoint included in the email I sent out if you would like more direct and concise information from our speakers. That's all for now and we'll be seeing you at our next meeting on November 18th. Don't forget to comment below :) 


  1. Saige Hassan

  2. Danielle de la Rosa

  3. Looks like I missed a good one.

    Brandi Barrow BRB2468

  4. Monica Nevarez

  5. Cameron Ruiz

  6. Stephanie Alexander
    Read :)

  7. Celeste Krimsky

  8. Mary Mellencamp mem5233

  9. Izzah Ahmad

  10. Rosa Benavidez

  11. Bridget Black, bnb975

  12. Kari Yanez kly267

  13. Kheren Garcia (kjg785)

  14. read!
    nisha george

  15. Read
    Crystal Omondi

  16. Read
    Heather Grosenbacher

  17. Sana Naiyer, sn7455

  18. Read Madison Kurtz

  19. Hannah Humphrey

  20. Mikayla Thomson

  21. Read -Josie Muniz

  22. Read!! Kaley D'Aunoy kad2566 :)

  23. Caroline Dawson

  24. Sara Montemayor

  25. Erika Lovfald

  26. Arron Reinhardt

  27. Shelby Stephen

  28. Erin Morgan emm3332

  29. Halle Finkley hf3795

  30. Carly Miller

  31. read! leslie rodriguez lmr2693