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

Published On


Page Range

pp. 311-346

Print Length

35 pages

9. Application and Use of the Simplified Sign System with Persons with Disabilities

  • John D. Bonvillian (author)
  • Nicole Kissane Lee (author)
  • Tracy T. Dooley (author)
  • Filip T. Loncke (author)
In Chapter 9, various approaches to teaching signs to non-speaking or minimally verbal persons are examined, including general exposure, an incidental or milieu approach, games and group activities, and specific training sessions. Learning goals are identified not only for the main or primary user of the system, but also for that person’s communication partners (family members, caregivers, friends) and persons in the wider environment. Guidelines for using the Simplified Sign System with the target populations are provided in order to establish good and consistent communication practices that will help to maximize users’ success with the system. Such guidelines or strategies include ensuring a positive signing environment, establishing visual contact, using key word signing, accepting errors in sign formation from the main user, rewarding progress, using facial expressions and environmental cues or contextual information to enhance vocabulary acquisition, and adapting the rate and frequency of signing. Finally, the authors anticipate and address many of the questions or concerns that teachers or caregivers may have as they embark on a program of using Simplified Signs.


John D. Bonvillian


Nicole Kissane Lee


Tracy T. Dooley


Filip T. Loncke