Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Kathryn L. Hansen

Abstract

On average, students who are deaf do not develop English literacy skills as well as their hearing peers. The linguistic interdependence principle suggests that literacy in American Sign Language (ASL) may improve literacy in English for students who are deaf. However, the Deaf community in the United States has not widely adopted a written form of ASL. This research surveys individuals in the U.S. Deaf community to better understand the opinions surrounding literacy in ASL.

The survey was presented online, containing both ASL in embedded videos and written English. The survey asked for the participants' demographic information, language and educational background, opinions about reading and writing ASL, and opinions on specific writing systems. Sixty-two surveys were analyzed using Chi-square Goodness of Fit tests and Tests of Independence.

The results show that those who desire to read and write ASL are in the minority. The respondents were evenly divided among those who supported literacy in ASL, those who opposed it, and those who felt ambivalent about it. The factors that influenced their opinions were (1) the widespread use of a written form of ASL; (2) the value of literacy in ASL; (3) the style of a writing system; (4) writing with other Deaf individuals; (5) the face-to-face culture in the Deaf community; (6) video technology; and (7) the dominance of English. The respondents were highly educated, which may have influenced these results. Surveying a more representative population is necessary to better understand the opinions about literacy in ASL in the U.S. Deaf community.

AppendixD-SurveyResponsesandSummaryStatistics.xlsx (102 kB)
Appendix D - Survey Responses

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