A Study of the Tactual Reception of Sign Language One of the natural methods of tactual communication in common use among individuals who are both deaf and blind is the tactual reception of sign language. In this method, the receiver (who is deaf-blind) places a hand (or hands) on the dominant (or both) hand(s) of the signer in order ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1995
A Study of the Tactual Reception of Sign Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Charlotte M. Reed
    Research Laboratory of Electronics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge
  • Lorraine A. Delhorne
    Research Laboratory of Electronics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge
  • Nathaniel I. Durlach
    Research Laboratory of Electronics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge
  • Susan D. Fischer
    Department of Communication Research National Technical Institute for the Deaf Rochester, NY
  • Contact author: Charlotte M. Reed, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Room 36–751, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.
    Contact author: Charlotte M. Reed, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Room 36–751, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1995
A Study of the Tactual Reception of Sign Language
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1995, Vol. 38, 477-489. doi:10.1044/jshr.3802.477
History: Received November 29, 1993 , Accepted November 1, 1994
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1995, Vol. 38, 477-489. doi:10.1044/jshr.3802.477
History: Received November 29, 1993; Accepted November 1, 1994

One of the natural methods of tactual communication in common use among individuals who are both deaf and blind is the tactual reception of sign language. In this method, the receiver (who is deaf-blind) places a hand (or hands) on the dominant (or both) hand(s) of the signer in order to receive, through the tactual sense, the various formational properties associated with signs. In the study reported here, 10 experienced deaf-blind users of either American Sign Language (ASL) or Pidgin Sign English (PSE) participated in experiments to determine their ability to receive signed materials including isolated signs and sentences. A set of 122 isolated signs was received with an average accuracy of 87% correct. The most frequent type of error made in identifying isolated signs was related to misperception of individual phonological components of signs. For presentation of signed sentences (translations of the English CID sentences into ASL or PSE), the performance of individual subjects ranged from 60–85% correct reception of key signs. Performance on sentences was relatively independent of rate of presentation in signs/sec, which covered a range of roughly 1 to 3 signs/sec. Sentence errors were accounted for primarily by deletions and phonological and semantic/syntactic substitutions. Experimental results are discussed in terms of differences in performance for isolated signs and sentences, differences in error patterns for the ASL and PSE groups, and communication rates relative to visual reception of sign language and other natural methods of tactual communication.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Grant Number 5-R01-DC00126 from the National Institutes of Health.
We are grateful to the 10 subjects for their enthusiastic cooperation with our research. We also wish to acknowledge the efforts of Susan Hajjar in helping us locate subjects for our study as well as for serving as our sign-language interpreter and sender in the PSE experiments; and Susan Philip and Alma Boumazian for serving as senders in the ASL experiments. Finally, we wish to thank the Deaf-Blind Department of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, for its cooperation with our research.
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