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

Published On


Page Range

pp. 235-280

Print Length

45 pages

7. Use of Manual Signs and Gestures by Hearing Persons

Contemporary Perspectives

  • John D. Bonvillian (author)
  • Nicole Kissane Lee (author)
  • Tracy T. Dooley (author)
  • Filip T. Loncke (author)
In Chapter 7, the authors change focus from the use of signs by deaf persons and with individuals with disabilities to how signing may enhance the learning and processing of spoken language by typically developing hearing children and adults. The first topic examined is the use of signs to foster infants’ and young children’s acquisition of their principal spoken language. Signs may further serve as an effective intervention strategy in academic settings for children with ADHD or as a means to improving vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension for children who lag behind their age group on various language performance measures. Iconic signs and representative gestures may also be used to facilitate the acquisition of foreign language vocabulary when the signs are paired with the to-be-learned words. Finally, various studies concerning the positive benefits of learning to sign promote the possibility that using the visual-gestural modality may confer increased skills in various cognitive domains such as spatial memory, mental rotation, and facial discrimination.


John D. Bonvillian


Nicole Kissane Lee


Tracy T. Dooley


Filip T. Loncke