TITLE: The Deaf Way of Signing and Interpreting Mathematical Concepts

PRESENTERS:   Outi Ahonen

Numerous studies have shown that deaf children and adults lag behind hearing individuals in terms of arithmetical and mathematical performance. Deaf students’ learning difficulties in mathematics are seen as being related to linguistic problems, but this bias should, however, be questioned since in most of the studies there is no evidence to suggest that deaf people would have had the opportunity to apply their visual calculation strategies in sign language or that their way of counting would have been correctly interpreted in spoken language. 

“Visual counting” is carried out using fingers, both hands and the three-dimensional neutral space in front of the signer. Fingers, hands and space are used as buoys to retrieve, for example, subtotals in a regular, syntactically well-defined manner. –The process is intelligible for native signers monitoring the calculation process, but not for hearing teachers, researchers or interpreters of (Finnish) sign language.

In this workshop, we will show examples of signed mathematical discourses and problem-solving monologues and dialogues in Finnish Sign Language where mental arithmetic processes (e.g. addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and percentage counting) are articulated in Finnish Sign Language, and consequently, numerically translated.

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