Summaries Home Page

An Initial Investigation of Sign Reception Gaze Duration

Mary V. Compton, Edgar H. Shroyer, & Tom Wingerath, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The ability to attain competency in both expressive and receptive aspects of signing is central to the preparation of appropriately qualified teachers and educational interpreters. To participate in reciprocal, interactive communication with their students, teachers and educational interpreters need to be aware of strategies to improve their receptive signing abilities. One such strategy involving eye fixations has been documented in observational research by Siple and Christie, Miller, and Swisher. These findings indicate that deaf signers use eye fixations on a certain portion of the sender s face in receiving signed messages.

The roundtable presentation displayed the results obtained from objective measures of gaze during durations of students preparing to be teachers or educational interpreters and young deaf adults as they viewed a videotape of a deaf adult signing a personal narrative in American Sign Language. Subjects were divided into a total of five cohorts based upon the number of signing classes completed with one cohort of age-matched young deaf adults. Mean gaze durations were computed for each group with analyses of variance applied to the five cohorts. Preliminary findings confirm previous researchers observations that more experienced receivers of signed communication direct their sustained visual attention to the area to the lower right side of a partner s head. Implications of the findings were discussed relative to teaching signing classes and developing receptive signing proficiency.