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

Published On


Page Range

pp. 281-310

Print Length

29 pages

8. Development of the Simplified Sign System

  • John D. Bonvillian (author)
  • Nicole Kissane Lee (author)
  • Tracy T. Dooley (author)
  • Filip T. Loncke (author)
Chapter 8 provides background information on the development of the Simplified Sign System. These steps are included so that investigators may replicate research findings and/or develop additional signs for their own sign-intervention programs. The authors first discuss efforts to find highly iconic or representative gestures in the dictionaries of various sign languages and sign systems from around the world. If necessary, signs were then modified to make them easier to produce based on the results of prior studies of signing errors made by students with autism, the sign-learning children of Deaf parents, and undergraduate students unfamiliar with any sign language. These potential signs were then tested with different undergraduate students to determine whether the signs were sufficiently memorable and accurately formed. Signs that did not meet criterion were either dropped from the system or subsequently modified and re-tested. Initial results from comparison studies between Simplified Signs and ASL signs and between Simplified Signs and Amer-Ind signs are presented as well. Finally, feedback from users influenced the course of the project. Memory aids were developed, especially for those persons who have less familiarity with sign languages, to help explain the ties between each sign and its referent in case that relationship is not readily or immediately apparent to a potential learner.


John D. Bonvillian


Nicole Kissane Lee


Tracy T. Dooley


Filip T. Loncke