Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Physics words get sign language equivalents

STEM-DC (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Disability Committee) have been working on a project to ensure that hearing loses don’t deter students from learning science in lessons. As a reult  116 new Physics and Engineering terms and definitions have been developed in British Sign Language. New signs helping to communicate the topics of movement, the Universe, light and sight, and energy and radiation have been developed to give secondary school science signing students a better opportunity to engage with Physics and Engineering.
Phrases like light year and x-ray now have their own sign when previously finger-spelling and lip-reading were the most common methods for teachers assistants to communicate the meaning of their lessons. The signs use common BSL techniques to help students understand the concepts behind the phrases. BSL metaphors are used to produce signs for ‘mass’ and ‘weight’; the researchers use a closed fist to communicate ‘mass’ while ‘weight’ is communicated by a fist being pulled down (the effect of gravity on mass being metaphorically implied).

Using the five features of British Sign Language’s phonology (handshape, orientation, location, movement and facial expression) the new signs have been developed. The project has also developed, in BSL, definitions for each term. These definitions explain the meaning of the term or provide an example of how it can be used.

The research team from The Scottish Sensory Centre, launched the new signs during the event at the Royal Academy of Engineering, 19 June.

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