A Sign Language Curriculum for the Deaf and Disabled: Developing it from Scratch

Before I say anything else, I have to say that I put this together by the grace of God and with much prayer. That statement covers every aspect of the process. Now for particulars;

(If you couldn’t care less about how I did it, but re interested in seeing it, just click here)

First, I spent time with kids and nannies. I saw what went on, what needs needed to be communicated, what their environment was in terms of objects and actions. I took lots of notes.

I played with the kids, helped meet basic needs (changed diapers, gave them water) tried to teach them signs as I went and tried to teach them a bunch of signs at once. I did some trying and some failing. I had some sweet successes. I took lots of notes.

I ran into lots of problems with the physical and mental handicaps of the children. I thought through new ways of teaching, new things to teach, and looked at the situation from different angles. I talked to staff and friends and family asking for wisdom. And I took more notes.

All of that added up to these conclusions:

Home signs (signs the kids already used to communicate) should be kept.

All signs needed to be simplified (the physical and neurological disabilities make even very simple handshapes – like the universal “ok” sign, for instance – impossible) and have a one-handed option for the kids who could only use one hand.

Since home-signs and simplified and one-handed signs would be used, they would all need to be cataloged for future reference.

Since teaching these children sign was akin to teaching infants sign because of their physical and mental states, the signs need to be taught throughout the day when the need would naturally be communicated. (For example, the sign for water being taught when the child is drinking water)

Because of their disabilities, each child’s capacity to learn, retain, and use this sin language is very limited (though what can be learned will be SO useful!)

Due to his fact, the most important signs needed to be learned first.

After that, the children can branch out, learning signs relevant to them as much as their abilities allow.

So, I developed this curriculum which catalogs the tailored signs, teaches the staff how to teach the kids in stages according to the kids’ capabilities, and provides further resources for learning along with an opportunity to comment and ask me questions even when I am back home.

I am so grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to put this together, an I would greatly appreciate your prayers for the staff and the children as they learn through it. I pray that The Lord will make up for the inadequacies of this endeavor and make His glory shine in it.

If you’d like to check it out, go to raisinghandssigns.wordpress.com

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2 thoughts on “A Sign Language Curriculum for the Deaf and Disabled: Developing it from Scratch

    1. It’s a mix of home signs and American and Indian sign language which has been adjusted according to the mental and physical disabilities of these specific kids. It’s very tailor-fitted to these kids and to the staff that will have to teach the kids. So, it certainly had not been done before at this orphanage, though I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this has been done before elsewhere.

What do you think about my post? Anything to add? Any related prayer requests? I really want to hear from you. So, please do comment, if you'd like. :)

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