Deaf children in communication : a study of communicative strategies used by deaf children in social interactions
Sammanfattning: This is a descriptive study of communicative strategies used by fifteen deaf preschool children. Five of the children had early sign language experience (ESL), while ten had late sign language experience (LSL). Seven of the LSL children had been orally trained. Video recordings with simultaneous direct observations were made once a month during semesters in a kindergarten for deaf and hearing children. The children were observed during periods from one half to two years. The descriptions of communicative strategies were based on second-by-second transcriptions and analyses from video recordings of the children’s use of nonverbal behaviors (i.e. gaze, facial expressions, body movements, gestures) and verbal behaviors (i.e. signs, articulation and speech) in interaction with other children. The detailed transcriptions and analyses of the children's actions and reactions showed that there were differences in the way the ESL and the LSL children communicated. The ESL children paid attention to partners in dialogues and in joint activities. This attention pattern was not observed to the same extent for the LSL children. In dialogues the ESL children used signs accompanied by a sophisticated pattern of nonverbal behaviors. They discussed matters concerning the past and future events as well as the ”here and now”. The LSL children used signs in dialogues but also many gross, sometimes exaggerated nonverbal expressions as substitutes for formal signs. The content of the dialogues was only about the "here and now”. The ESL children were observed to modify their way of communicating depending on the partner’s possibilities. This was not observed for the LSL children subjected to oral/aural training. The communicative strategies used by the ESL and the LSL children are discussed with reference to early interactions with the social environment. The importance of giving the deaf child the opportunity to acquire a language spontaneously via the visual-gestural channel is emphasized.
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