John D. Bonvillian; Nicole Kissane Lee; Tracy T. Dooley; Filip T. Loncke

Published On


Page Range

pp. 93-140

Print Length

47 pages

4. Sign Communication in Persons with an Intellectual Disability or with Cerebral Palsy

  • John D. Bonvillian (author)
  • Nicole Kissane Lee (author)
  • Tracy T. Dooley (author)
  • Filip T. Loncke (author)
In Chapter 4, the authors begin an in-depth discussion of the use of signs with special populations, including an early study that occurred in the West of England in the 1840s with deaf students with intellectual disabilities. Various types of intellectual disability are identified, including fragile X syndrome, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, and Angelman syndrome. The successes and failures of speech-based and sign-based interventions are covered for individuals with these syndromes (particularly the latter two) as well as in persons with multiple disabilities. The authors next move on to a discussion of the relatively sparse research related to teaching signs to children who have cerebral palsy. Recommendations for enhancing the sign-learning environment are provided so that all persons who use signs as an augmentative or alternative means of communication may derive the greatest benefit from their communicative interactions. In addition to maximizing the positive atmosphere in which signing individuals interact with others at school, at home, and in public, the authors suggest that the types of signs employed may also have an impact on whether or not signing is successful.


John D. Bonvillian


Nicole Kissane Lee


Tracy T. Dooley


Filip T. Loncke