Sign Language in Light of Mathematics Education : An Exploration Within Semiotic and Embodiment Theories of Learning Mathematics

Research rarely focuses on how deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students address mathematical ideas. Complexities involved in using sign language (SL) in mathematics classrooms include not just challenges, but opportunities that accompany mathematics learning in this gestural-somatic medium. The authors consider DHH students primarily as learners of mathematics, and their SL use as a special case of language in the mathematics classroom. More specifically, using SL in teaching and learning mathematics is explored within semiotic and embodiment perspectives to gain a better understanding of how using SL affects the development, conceptualization, and representation of mathematical meaning. The theoretical discussion employs examples from the authors’ work and research on geometry, arithmetic, and fraction concepts with Deaf German and Austrian learners and experts. The examples inform the context of mathematics teaching and learning more generally by illuminating SL features that distinguish mathematics learning for DHH learners.


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