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M.A. Theses in Linguistics
at the University of North Dakota
Keogh, Jennifer 2013
A survey of those in the U.S. Deaf community about reading and writing ASL
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.
Download thesis from http://arts-sciences.und.edu/summer-institute-of-linguistics/theses/_files/docs/2013-keogh-jennifer.pdf