Title: 'The Importance of Visual Language - Using ASL, SEE, Cued Speech or Spoken English'
Track: 3 - Language Acquisition and Development
Keyword(s): ASL, oral, SEE, language develoment
Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will be able to discuss and paraphrase the inherent differences in ASL and English as well as describe how each language can be used in a visual way - both signed and in the air.
  2. Participants will be able to describe the difference between conversations/language and visual language.
  3. Participants will be able to analyze conversations/language and describe how to make them more visual in nature whether in ASL or in spoken English.


We use language everyday to communicate with others. English is a low context language and we rely on the listener to fill in the blanks as we converse. We almost expect them to read our mind. We assume our conversation partner knows our topic or can easily discern the topic as we are speaking. In contrast, American Sign Language (ASL) is a high context language. Users of ASL often start at the beginning of their experience to relay a story or a point. Sometimes, the story is so specific that the general point is lost in the details. Using everyday conversation topics, this workshop will focus on analyzing the words we use, how we use them, determine the underlying meaning of those words, and work to make our language more visual - both in ASL and in spoken English to be clearer communicators. We will touch on using features of ASL such as spatial relationships in Signing Exact English (SEE) to be clearer using that mode of communication. This workshop will be designed to benefit families and school staff. Examples from early intervention to middle school will be used. Key words: ASL, oral, SEE, language development Contact Information: Donna Sorensen dsorensen@msdb.mt.gov 406-771-6091
Presentation: 1325DonnaSorensen.pdf

Handouts: Handout is not Available
Donna Sorensen - Primary Presenter
Montana School for the Deaf and Blind
     Credentials: BS - Deaf Education MA - Parent Infant Education NBCT - Exceptional Needs Specialist/Deaf and Hard of Hearing RPCV, Kenya 2003-2005
      I taught in a Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) mainstreamed program north of Seattle for 9 years - preschool 6 years, elementary 2, and middle school for one year. I volunteered with Deafblind individuals as an interpreter and guide. I completed the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification process certified in 2002. This is one of the best professional development endeavors as it forced me to examine my teaching practice and reflect. Because of this process, I am consistently reflective about my work, my interactions, my leadership, and my learning. In 2003, I joined the US Peace Corps teaching DHH children in Kenya for 2 years. This experience tried my patience; expanded my skills; and shattered my heart when my service was complete and I returned to the US. I currently serve as the Outreach Director at MSDB working with amazing people!

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.