Cecilia Flood's Dissertation

Stephanie Berk stephanie.berk at UCONN.EDU
Sat Jul 12 21:30:45 UTC 2003

Hello Everyone.

    I have been reading the emails on the list now for about 6 months,
but have not yet introduced myself, although I do feel I know many of
you from the emails.  My name is Stephanie Berk and I am finishing my
Ph.D.  dissertation at the University of Connecticut, on the acquisition
of American Sign Language when first language exposure is delayed by
almost 6 years.  I am currently living in Pittsburgh, PA and will be
here for at least another 2 years.
    Here at University of Pittsburgh, we have a reading and writing
systems scholar, named Dr. Charles Perfetti.  I am hoping, with Dr.
Perfetti as one of my mentors, to do a post-doctoral study of writing
systems for ASL, within the scope of the recent findings that language
proficiency plays a large role in literacy.  I would like to contrast
two different sign language/ASL writing systems with two levels of ASL
proficiency(High and Low).  While I will spare you all the details in this email, the main hypotheses are 1)  If language proficiency is the main contributor to learning to read/write, then children learning different types of writing systems should "score" similarly within proficiency groups on
the 2 writing systems. 2) If a specific writing system is better at
capturing the salient aspects of the language, then children of
different language proficiencies should learn that writing system better
than the other one.
    I would like to assess both how well the reading/writing systems are
learned and how this can positively impact Deaf literacy and education.
 I am planning on emailing Dr. Cecilia Flood, when she gets back, to ask
if she and her students would be willing to participate in this study.
 I have submitted one grant proposal to a private foundation for this
potential project, and am planning on also submitting an NRSA
re-submittal that would be for this project. (The first submittal did
not get funding.)
    I think that SignWriting and Deaf literacy are very important in the
empowering of the Deaf community.  I am hoping to address some of the
questions that Dan Parvaz raised, as well as others that I have been
thinking about for the past while.
        (I am hearing,but I have been signing (ASL) since I was 2 1/2 years old.)

    I am open for any suggestions and constructive criticism *smile*.


Valerie Sutton wrote:

> SignWriting List
> July 11, 2003
> On Friday, July 11, 2003, at 06:15 AM, Dan Parvaz wrote:
>> I haven't read Cecelia's dissertation, but I did attend her defense.
>> While I remember a lot of discussion on how using sign writing boosted
>> feelings of ownership of the writing process (writing in "my language")
>> and of making connections between signs and printed  symbols -- and I'm
>> not knocking that -- there wasn't a whole lot of talk about more
>> concrete outcomes. Does anyone (Cecelia, are you still here?) know if
>> that was addressed? -Dan.
> Cecilia Flood's dissertation did not have the goal, to specifically
> test how people type, or to test how certain symbols work, or to test
> for improved grammar etc...Cecilia's intent was to show that Deaf
> children's self-esteem improved, and their ability to take over a
> project, and to feel proud of their accomplishments all improved, when
> they had a way to read and write their own language of ASL...so Cecilia
> was trying to show that it was not a negative influence, but quite the
> opposite - a positive influence if the deaf child learned SignWriting
> along with other subjects in school...and she succeeded to show
> that...Thank you, Cecilia!
> The specific kind of testing and studies you mention above would be
> most welcome and I hope others will write those dissertations...
> Cecilia's dissertation was a long one, and is a thick book that will be
> published in time. Meanwhile, I do have Chapter 3 only, available for
> download for those interested:
> Document 68...go to:
> http://www.SignWriting.org/library/pdf
> Val ;-)

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