Ted Supalla, Ph.D.
Ted Supalla, Ph.D., is associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, linguistics, and American Sign Language at the University of Rochester, where he directs the program in ASL and the Sign Language Research Center. He is author of the forthcoming Film and Deaf Culture (Dawn Sign Press).
Children Need Natural Languages, Signed or Spoken
Sign languages are as different, and as specific to their communities, as spoken languages. They are, in fact, true natural human languages—a relatively recently discovered fact with crucial implications for the education of deaf children, say cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier and her colleagues. They probe both the profound similarities and notable differences that characterize signed and spoken languages, including how they are processed by the brain, and ask if the “devised systems” of communication now being tried with deaf children can ever replace the benefits of natural language.