Saint Joseph's University

SPE 734 Sign Communication in Instructional Settings

Discover new instructional opportunities with the use of sign language in teaching content areas.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

Format: Online

Duration: 16 weeks

Credits: 3 credits

Through time, sign language has been a communication method widely understood by those who are deaf or hard of hearing and those who want to converse with them. For young children and new parents, this learning can be challenging, but ultimately rewarding. For educators, sign language can provide an opportunity to help these students develop greater language and reading skills.

In this course, you learn how a variety of sign language methods are used and how to evaluate which ones are the most effective in a variety of settings. You meet several hypothetical students and learn how signing has affected their lives. You explore valuable research and use your own signing skills to further your understanding of the use of sign language in the educational setting.

This course provides the basis for understanding and improving the use of sign language in educational settings. You’ll learn varieties of sign language and signing techniques, and gain practical experience in the use of sign language in lesson planning and implementation. 

The study of sign language interpretation in educational settings is also part of this course.  Practical experiences such as signing stories, signing test items and signing in content academic areas are included. Topics include the importance of literacy activities for deaf toddlers, the challenges of teaching math in sign language and the validity of assessments conducted using a sign language interpreter.

Please note: All students in this course are expected to meet or exceed minimum sign language competencies required for entry into the certification program. This is not a course in learning sign language, but rather a course about the instructional use of sign language.

Sample Course Topics  

Throughout this course, weekly topics may include:

  • The History of Sign Language Use in Education
  • Varieties of Sign Language Use
  • Sign Language Interpretation and Transliteration
  • Signing to Young Children
  • Signing Math Word Problems
  • Sign Language in Test Taking
  • Communication Opportunities for Parents and Families

Examples of What You’ll Learn

Upon completing SPE 734, you will be able to:

  • Describe the use of sign language through the centuries and how it is used in direct instruction and interpreted instruction.
  • Explain the difference between using a natural, indigenous sign language and a manually coded representation of a spoken language.
  • Appreciate the differences between sign language interpretation and transliteration, as well as how interpreting affects the classroom dynamic.
  • Understand the interaction between spoken language and signed language in the early language acquisition process.
  • Use sign language to enhance the linguistic and cognitive development necessary for beginning reading, writing and academic skills in the preschool years.
  • Discuss how English-language math concepts and word problems can be signed accurately.
  • Describe what kinds of accommodations should and can be used to provide access for signing deaf students for statewide tests.

To learn more about the online Master of Science in Education – Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12 certification curriculum from Saint Joseph’s University, including Sign Communication in Instructional Settings, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

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