March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


3/14/2016  |   3:20 PM - 3:50 PM   |  Topical Session 3   |  Royal Palm 5/6   |  3 - Language Acquisition and Development

To Fingerspell or Not to Fingerspell? That May Be a Highly Debated Question

Fingerspelling is a complex phenomenon and many do not fully understand its power in the process of language and literacy learning and instruction for deaf and hard of hearing children. Of the 2 million or so users of American Sign Language (ASL), the use of fingerspelling plays a major role in both communication and as a teaching tool, particularly in the teaching of literacy (Baker, 2011). Current research on fingerspelling providing as a link to early reading skills in deaf and hard of hearing children shows that children are able to utilize knowledge of the English alphabet in the early stages of reading. By understanding the purpose of fingerspelling as a bridge between ASL and written English (spoken when appropriate), parents and professionals in the education of the Deaf would understand how it may impact the early language development on achieving school-readiness.

  • apply techniques and strategies using fingerspelling as a link between ASL and written English with young deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • justify why fingerspelling may be the critical link in children early language development.

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Heidi MacGlaughlin (Primary Presenter), Lamar University, hmacglaughli@lamar.edu;
Heidi M. MacGlaughlin is currently a doctoral student in the Deaf Studies Deaf Education Department at Lamar University. Her research interests center on language and literacy among young Deaf children. She works as a Curriculum Specialist at the Texas School for the Deaf, focusing primarily in the Early Childhood Education through 2nd grade. She also provides curriculum support to the Physical Education and Aquatics department. Heidi also directs her research on the topics of research ethics within Deaf communities and social justice.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.