“The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading”
Visual Language & Visual Learning (VL2)
What is fingerspelling?
On the most simplistic level, fingerspelling can be defined as the use of handshapes to represent letters of the alphabet.
Key Findings on the Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading:
• Deaf families fingerspell to their deaf children when they are very young.
• Early exposure to fingerspelling helps these children become better readers.
• Fingerspelling, reading, and writing are interrelated.
• Fingerspelling facilitates English vocabulary growth, and larger the lexicon, the faster new vocabulary is learned.
• Fingerspelling positively correlates with stronger reading skills. Deaf and hard of hearing children who are good fingerspellers are good readers, and vice versa.
For complete research findings:
Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2010, July). The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading. (Research Brief No. 1). Washington, DC: Sharon Baker.