Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2007

Deborah Chen-Pichler
Linguistics
Effects of Bilingualism on Word Order and Information packaging in ASL
R. Steven Ackley
CCC-A Audiology Graduate Programs
Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials: Evaluating and Standardizing a Balance Assessment Procedure in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Subjects
Sarah Taub, Susan Mather, Dennis Galvan, Pilar Piñar
Linguistics Psychology, Foreign Language
Gesture and ASL Acquisition
Cynthia Roy, Melanie Metzger
Interpreting
Investigating Interactive Interpreting

NEW GRANTS

Effects of Bilingualism on Word Order and Information packaging in ASL
Deborah Chen-Pichler

Linguistics

This project aims to study the development of information packaging by ASL monolingual and ASL/English bilingual children. Information packaging refers to the ways in which speakers organize old and new information during discourse with an interlocutor. Recent reports in the acquisition literature have demonstrated that Deaf children as young as 1;6-2;0 appear to make use of topic and focus structures. However, the extent to which these structures adhere to target-like discourse/pragmatic requirements is not clear. It is also not clear from these reports whether children accurately produce the nonmanual (prosodic) features or noncanonical word order that accompany such information structures in adult ASL. This study will collect both longitudinal and experimental data with the goal of uncovering the developmental patterns for topic and focus constructions, as well as their effects on word order and nonmanual prosody. In addition, inclusion of both mono- and bilingual signers will allow investigation of possible cross-modality transfer effects between English and ASL. Bilingualism across two modalities presents opportunities for a wider variety of potential transfer effects than traditional monomodal bilingualism on which current models of transfer are based, and can thus serve as a crucial test case for refining this aspect of linguistic theory.


CONTINUED GRANTS

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials: Evaluating and Standardizing a Balance Assessment Procedure in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Subjects
R. Steven Ackley, Ph.D., CCC-A

Audiology Graduate Programs
(ends September, 2006)

This study proposes to examine 100 Deaf and severely Hard of Hearing (HoH) subjects using a relatively new technique known as vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) assessment. Preliminary findings conducted at the Gallaudet Hearing Clinic corroborate clinical findings reported in the literature and indicate that in subjects with vertigo or imbalance or history of these disorders VEMPs tend to be abnormal with respect to amplitude, latency and/or augmented calculations. Further, the findings suggest that subjects with vertigo or imbalance may be tested accurately and without discomfort using this procedure unlike other traditional test methods. However, there is a dearth of literature regarding clinical application of this procedure to Deaf and Hard of Hearing subjects. The test is a measure of the saccule, an inner ear balance organ, and loud acoustic signals are used to generate the response. Although pilot data collected by this researcher indicates that this test is useful in assessing balance function in Deaf/HoH patients, important baseline data is yet to be reported on these subjects. Indeed, preliminary indications suggest a possible decrease in VEMP amplitude in Deaf/HH subjects when compared to control subjects and patients with normal hearing. To this end, testing a large series of these subjects would provide definitive data for widespread clinical application of the test. It is hypothesized that a significant decrease in VEMP amplitude will be determined for Deaf/HH subjects as compared to controls with normal hearing, which will then serve as a clinical standard when testing Deaf/HH patients using VEMP procedures to assess balance disorder.


Gesture and ASL Acquisition
Sarah Taub, Susan Mather, Dennis Galvan, Pilar Piñar

Linguistics; Psychology; Foreign Language

The main goal of this project is to identify whether preexisting, communicative gestural behavior serves as a bootstrapping mechanism for acquiring the grammaticalized gestural elements of ASL (e.g, spatially modulated verbs and pronouns, role shift, grammatical facial expressions) among adult hearing learners. More specifically, our goal is to investigate whether the quality of co-speech gesture can serve as a diagnostic to predict ASL aptitude. In order to do this, we propose to collect videotaped data from hearing subjects who are about to begin learning ASL. Our subjects will watch several cartoon vignettes and then will retell the stories in English to another subject. We will develop a coding system to analyze the subjects' gestures according to factors such as number of gestures, size of gestures, spatial coherence of gestures, number of gestures in which hands represent referents, number of gestures in which the speaker takes on a character's persona, and frequency of shifts between types of gestures. Subjects will also be rated on their comprehension of the vignettes and on their involvement with the task, as both can affect gesturing.

Data from two different groups of subjects will be collected offset by one year. Subjects' skills in ASL after 8 and 20 months of exposure will be rated in at least the following areas: vocabulary, inflectional morphology, word order, facial expressions, use of classifiers, use of role shift, and discourse factors. ASL course grades will provide one measure of overall proficiency. Subjects' ASL narratives will be rated in these areas as well by a trained ASL consultant. Statistical analyses will test for correlations among gestural factors and ASL skill areas within and across subjects.


Investigating Interactive Interpreting
Cynthia Roy and Melanie Metzger

Interpreting

Our purpose is to investigate face-to-face interpreted encounters in medical, mental health, legal, educational, government and business settings from a discourse perspective. The assistance of interpreters is a necessary way for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons to overcome language barriers in the everyday routines of many public institutions. Most of these routines are accomplished by talking face-to-face, by having a conversation. How these conversations are accomplished through an interpreter has not been thoroughly investigated. We propose to video-record ten interpreted encounters and analyze them using discourse analysis methodology from the various approaches within linguistics. We will account for interpreter-mediated conversation as a mode of communication, about interpreters and their responsibilities, about what they do, and what others expect them to do in face-to-face, institutional encounters. If interpreting is to be acknowledged as a profession when it occurs in the everyday life of public institutions and organizations, and if we are to teach this professional endeavor and gain the confidence and respect of the public, we need to have well-founded and shared ideas about what interpreting in these settings is all about, what interpreters are good for, and about preferred standards to apply in various situations.

[Last modified: 2011.12.05 16:50:38. by Kevin Cole]

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