Sign Language can impact children as early as 5 months old

A National Technical Institute for the Deaf researcher used eye-tracking technology to determine patterns in deaf babies with signing parents.

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Professor Rain Bosworth studied children by recording their gaze as they watched a signer. The goal was to learn, just from gaze patterns alone, whether the child was from a family that used spoken language or signed language at home. She says:

“This is the earliest evidence, that we know of, for effects of sign-language exposure. At first, it does seem counter-intuitive that the non-signers are looking at the hands and signers are not. We think signers keep their gaze on the face because they are relying on highly developed and efficient peripheral vision. Infants who are not familiar with sign language look at the hands in signing space perhaps because that is what is perceptually salient to them.”

Read a news release about the project here or the study itself in the journal Developmental Science.