Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Adopting the Holistic approach.

Archived webinar from October 09, 2019 with Dr. Nicola Grove.

As professionals planning and delivering interventions with children with disabilities, we all surely subscribe to the philosophy of Total Communication - the value of all modalities and resources harnessed to support communication development. But what does this mean in practice? Are all modalities regarded as important? Do we really take account of children’s skills and preferences when we allocate resources? 

What do we know about the affordances of particular modalities for functional communication purposes? Manual signing is used worldwide by millions of Deaf people for whom it is a first or preferred language and with hundreds of thousands of individuals who have communication disabilities. The last half of the 20th century saw numerous research papers and practical resources dedicated to issues of how to teach, use and develop signing within the framework of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, but currently, these have been superseded by an almost exclusive focus on aided systems and devices. 

There are still remarkably few studies of signing development over time, or of everyday use. As a result, speech /pathologists and educators have limited resources on which they can draw to support the evidence-based practice to which they are committed. A second critical issue is that there is increasing evidence of deaf children who have additional needs and disabilities, whose signing is delayed or disordered. 

For these children, even with the support of cochlear implants, sign remains the primary communication system. There are also many hearing children with disabilities born to native signing Deaf parents. Teachers and therapists are in need of information about how best to plan intervention for these children. The webinar will be based on the research and practice drawn together in the first-ever text dedicated to this topic - Manual Sign Acquisition in Children with Developmental Disabilities, edited by Nicola Grove and Kaisa Launonen (Nova, 2019). 

This book integrates findings from both sign language and Key Word Sign; considers practical issues of intelligibility, vocabulary and semantics, grammar and pragmatics; and provides evidence of sign development in different clinical populations. You are invited to participate in this webinar by bringing your own experiences and questions for discussion. Here are a few reoccurring questions that will be addressed in this webinar. 

-What is the role of manual sign and gesture in AAC?

 - Is there really any evidence that the effort involved in teaching signs to children with disabilities is worth it? 

- Are aided systems or signs the best way to promote communication for children with various disabilities (eg. autism, cerebral palsy)? 

- Are there prerequisite skills that should be taught before introducing children to manual sign? 

- How can we encourage children to generalize their use of taught signs? 
- Do signs increase stigma for children with disabilities by making them more conspicuous? 

- Should we be promoting sign language or keyword sign systems with deaf children who have additional disabilities? 

-Do children have a human right to use signs?

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