Priority Grants Research Fund

Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2008

Gina Oliva
Physical Education and Recreation
Motivations and goals of owners, managers, and counselors of planned recreational (summer and weekend) programs for deaf and hard of hearing children.
Deborah Chen-Pichler
Linguistics
Effects of Bilingualism on Word Order and Information packaging in ASL
Cynthia Roy, Melanie Metzger
Interpreting
Investigating Interactive Interpreting
Dennis Galvan, Pilar Piñar, Susan Mather, Sarah Taub, Amanda Holzrichter
Linguistics Psychology, Foreign Language
Gesture and ASL Acquisition

NEW GRANTS

Motivations and goals of owners, managers, and counselors of planned recreational
(summer and weekend) programs for deaf and hard of hearing children

Gina Oliva

Physical Education and Recreation

There are approximately 70 known summer camps for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth around the United States. In addition, weekend programs directed at mainstreamed deaf and hard of hearing youth are emerging around the United States as education and mental health professionals strive to provide the crucial social experiences that are frequently lacking in mainstream settings.

This study is the first to focus on this phenomenon and is now in its third year. Given the dearth of research on these programs, the focus is on very foundation of the program — the administrators, the program staff and the actual activities offered. What are the motivations and goals of owners, managers, and counselors of summer and weekend programs for deaf and hard of hearing children? How are these motivations and goals reflected in staffing patterns (qualifications, training provided, expectations), actual activities, perception of ongoing challenges, and marketing efforts? To what extent do these patterns, activities and perceptions include sensitivity to and a special effort towards solitary and almost solitary children and youth?

This qualitative study will attempt to answer these and other questions, to provide rich description of the current state of affairs and promote further study of various elements of this phenomenon.


CONTINUED 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.


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.


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

Psychology; Foreign Language; Linguistics

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.

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

DISCLAIMER: This website contains documents with terms that may be considered by today's reader as outdated and even offensive. For example, the term "hearing impairment" is sometimes used as a category for levels of hearing loss, such as hard of hearing and deaf. Some people now see cultural identification and communication preference as defining characteristics behind terms such as hard of hearing and deaf, and they do not favor terms conveying medical distinctions and loss. Yet we recognize that removing and changing terms may alter the precise meaning of the scientific author. A solution may be found by expanding the scope of future research to include non-medical perspectives.
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