Retention of signs following a one-day key word sign training

Publication Type:
Journal Article
British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 2019, 47 (1), pp. 50 - 58
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd We taught teachers sign language to use with children with a disability We asked teachers if they liked the training and learning signs We tested their memory of signs after training and 6 and 12 weeks later We found that teachers can learn signs in a one-day workshop and remember them later Teachers forgot some of the signs by 6 weeks later Teachers want follow-up sessions to practise the signs to help them remember the signs. Abstract: Background Children and adults with developmental disability frequently require either aided or unaided alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). Key word sign (KWS) involves using natural gesture and sign language to support the key words in spoken utterances. The purpose of this study was to determine whether communication partners of children and adults with developmental disabilities can learn and retain a basic KWS vocabulary. Materials and Methods Communication partners attended a one-day training workshop where they were taught 100 signs. Measures of sign recognition and production were taken prior to the training, immediately after the training on the day and at 6 and 12 weeks later. Results Participants were able to learn signs during the workshop and demonstrate receptive and expressive knowledge of KWS. However, sign knowledge decreased after 6 and 12 weeks. Participants noted that having to be tested again after several weeks, motivated them to practise and served as a follow-up. Conclusion This paper provides evidence that KWS training enables participants to learn and retain signs, but that there is a need for ongoing training and support even for communication partners who use sign regularly.
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