Effects of Rate of Presentation on the Reception of American Sign Language Previous research on the visual reception of fingerspelled English suggests that communication rates are limited primarily by constraints on production. Studies of artificially accelerated fingerspelling indicate that reception of fingerspelled sentences is highly accurate for rates up to 2 to 3 times those that can be produced naturally. The current ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1999
Effects of Rate of Presentation on the Reception of American Sign Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan D. Fischer
    National Technical Institute for the Deaf Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY
  • Lorraine A. Delhorne
    Research Laboratory of Electronics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
  • Charlotte M. Reed
    Research Laboratory of Electronics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
  • 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
Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1999
Effects of Rate of Presentation on the Reception of American Sign Language
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1999, Vol. 42, 568-582. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4203.568
History: Received January 26, 1998 , Accepted November 30, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1999, Vol. 42, 568-582. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4203.568
History: Received January 26, 1998; Accepted November 30, 1998

Previous research on the visual reception of fingerspelled English suggests that communication rates are limited primarily by constraints on production. Studies of artificially accelerated fingerspelling indicate that reception of fingerspelled sentences is highly accurate for rates up to 2 to 3 times those that can be produced naturally. The current paper reports on the results of a comparable study of the reception of American Sign Language (ASL). Fourteen native deaf ASL signers participated in an experiment in which videotaped productions of isolated ASL signs or ASL sentences were presented at normal playback speed and at speeds of 2, 3, 4, and 6 times normal speed. For isolated signs, identification scores decreased from 95% correct to 46% correct across the range of rates that were tested; for sentences, the ability to identify key signs decreased from 88% to 19% over the range of rates tested. The results indicate a breakdown in processing at around 2.5–3 times the normal rate as evidenced both by a substantial drop in intelligibility in this region and by a shift in error patterns away from semantic and toward formational. These results parallel those obtained in previous studies of the intelligibility of the auditory reception of time-compressed speech and the visual reception of accelerated fingerspelling. Taken together, these results suggest a modality-independent upper limit to language processing.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Grant 5-R01-DC00126 from the National Institutes of Health. The authors wish to thank W. M. Rabinowitz for sharing his technical expertise on the mechanisms involved in variable-speed playback.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access