One of the major breakthroughs in the development of communication skills in hearing, but nonspeaking autistic, mentally retarded, and aphasic individuals took place some years ago with the introduction of sign language training. Through sign communication, these individuals learned to communicate effectively for the first time. However, even with this new arena of manual communication, problems encountered by the autistic, mentally retarded, and aphasic individuals in accurately forming and comprehending the signs, severely limits sign acquisition.
The combination of motor impairments and cognitive limitations associated with the special populations, as well as the formation complexity and abstract nature of many signs, seriously constrained the individual’s sign acquisition. The sign-learning difficulties encountered by hearing, but nonspeaking, populations is addressed on this web site through the proposal of a simplified form of sign communication.
A Simplified Sign System has been developed in Professor John D. Bonvillian’s Developmental Psychology and Psycholinguistics Research Lab at the University of Virginia. Professor Bonvillian and fellow research assistants in the lab, selected strongly iconic and motorically simple signs from 20+ formal sign language dictionaries. They also generated signs for the special needs of hearing, but nonspeaking, disabled populations (i.e. in medical settings, in the classroom, and in the case of emergencies specifically related to associated medical problems).
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