Linguistics and English Language

Linguistic Circle

Speaker: Audrey Cameron (University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education)

Title: Signing to Know: Unlocking scientific concepts for deaf children in the UK

Abstract: The historical prevalence of oralism in deaf education spanning over a century has left a substantial void in signed language vocabulary in the field of STEM (Kurz and Pagliaro, 2020). After the BSL Scotland Act was passed in 2015, the Signing to Know project was established to gain insights into the persistent and widening education and language gaps experienced by deaf children in science education across the UK. We also wanted to find ways to unlock the cognitive process underpinning access to learning in STEM for young people (Henner et al., 2021, 2023). By understanding how ‘science talk’ takes place amongst deaf sign language users, the aim was to develop online language resources that will enable educators and sign language interpreters to facilitate enhanced learning experiences for deaf children learning in BSL. This, in turn, seeks to dismantle systemic barriers for deaf signing students pursuing STEM subjects (Royal Society, 2020) and address the social disadvantages that adversely impact health outcomes in the wider deaf community (Pollard and Barnett, 2009; Emond et al., 2015). This presentation outlines the internationally recognised BSL STEM Glossary project based at the Scottish Sensory Centre, University of Edinburgh. I will explain the method we developed through collaborating with a collective of Deaf BSL users, including Deaf scientists, Deaf teachers of deaf children and Sign Linguists, to create new BSL signs for talking about science with children. I will also share some preliminary findings from my classroom observations in deaf schools in the UK, which were based on applying a linguistic ethnographic methodology (Goico, 2020; Hou and Kusters, 2020).

Further information

Please join us for a reception after the talk in the Dugald Stewart Building, 7th Floor common area.

Contact details

Linguistic Circle committee

Nov 23 2023 -

Linguistic Circle

2023-11-23: Signing to Know: Unlocking scientific concepts for deaf children in the UK

G.04 Screening Room, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH; online