Though some deaf children acquire a signed language from their deaf parents in much the same way that hearing people acquire spoken language, it is not so easy for many deaf children. Most deaf children have parents who do not know sign language, and if these children cannot hear speech sounds they are at risk for not learning any language at all. This is called language deprivation. Our research looks at the relationship between language deprivation and the sign language lexicon. We ask questions like:
What are the signs of ASL and their properties?
How do children with and without language deprivation acquire new signs?
What are the long-term effects of language deprivation on sign processing?