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Use Sign Language in English Order With Signing Exact English

Signing Exact English for Learning English


Updated June 27, 2014

It may not get as much coverage, but the Signing Exact English (SEE)(or, Signed English or Manually Coded English) communication option is still with us. SEE is a form of communication/instruction in which signs are used in exact English word order, with some additional signs for conventions such as the "ing" word ending. Over the years, SEE combined with ASL to create Pidgin Signed English (or PSE).

History of Signed English

SEE first appeared in 1972. Its popularity grew as both schools and parents found it a useful tool for instructing deaf children in English. An article, "A history of seeing essential english (SEE I)" in the American Annals of the Deaf, vol 141 No. 1, pp. 29-33, gives more background.

Support for Signed English

The only organization promoting SEE is the SEE Center. Highlights of the SEE Center website:
  • An online brochure - This brochure, available only in HTML format, explains what the SEE Center is, and products and other materials available from the Center.
  • Job listings - On this page there are listings for interpreters and teachers who know SEE.
  • Discussion Forum - Here, people using SEE can talk about only SEE.
  • Educational Sign Skills Evaluation testing - Information about the testing of a person's ability to receive, interpret, or instruct in SEE (and ASL and PSE).
  • Workshops (or skillshops) - The SEE Center sponsors workshops around the nation, to help people learn and practice SEE skills.

Research on Signed English

On the SEE Center web site, there is a downloadable bibliography of articles, available in Word and HTML formats. A companion listing lists articles about the use of SEE with hearing children. In addition, the American Annals of the Deaf occasionally publishes articles related to signed English, such as "Deaf Children Creating Written Texts: Contributions of American Sign Language and Signed Forms of English," from volume 145 No. 5, 394-403.

Literature with Signed English

One of the biggest advantages I have seen to SEE is that children's books can be produced with SEE. Both Gallaudet University and Modern Signs Press have developed and published classic children's books with SEE. These books usually have the stories illustrated on one page, with an adjacent page having illustrations of the signs with text labels under each sign.

Children's Books from Modern Signs Press

  • Grandfather Moose - This two-book series has rhymes and games in sign language.
  • Talking Fingers Series - This is a series of colorful, simple themed books:
    • I Was So Mad - Theme is a children's fight.
    • Little Green Monsters - Theme is directions (here, there).
    • At Grandma's House - About a child who loves being with her grandmother.
    • Popsicles Are Cold - Introduces the concept of opposites like hot and cold.
  • In Our House - Kids like to help around the house.
  • Music in Motion - Twenty two children's songs are presented in sign language. (compare prices)

Children's Books from Gallaudet University

  • Night Before Christmas - the classic story, beautifully illustrated. (compare prices)
  • Little Red Riding Hood - This classic, well-illustrated tale was a favorite of my child's. (compare prices)
  • Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose - This was another book that was well-liked by my child. (compare prices)
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears (compare prices)

Gallaudet University Press has also produced a series of easier children's books (the titles are self-explanatory) at three levels of simplicity, including:

Children's Books from Garlic Press

Garlic Press also publishes children's books that use conceptually accurate signed english or have a loose English structure, including:

Signed English Instruction Books

Modern Signs Press has published a comprehensive dictionary, Signing Exact English, complete with all the conventions. It is available in paperback, hardcover, or a pocket edition.(compare prices) Gallaudet University Press has its own book, The Comprehensive Signed English Dictionary (compare prices), and another book, the Signed English Schoolbook (compare prices). Garlic Press also publishes two instructional books, A Word in the Hand Book One (compare prices) and A Word in the Hand Book Two (compare prices).

Related on About.com: Signing With Children - Video with transcript on page

Related Video
Common Sign Language for Babies
Teach a Baby to Sign

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