Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Special Education


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Kuder, S. Jay


Children with mental disabilities--Education; Sign language


Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this thesis was to determine if the use of sign language with mildly mentally retarded children would increase their social interaction and communication. All the children in the study have been described as having moderate to severe language delays. Pre and post intervention observations were conducted for five consecutive days during free play in the classroom setting. After the completion of data collection, intervention was begun. Intervention consisted of a selection of basic signed vocabulary pertinent to classroom activities which were introduced during a sign circle three afternoons a week for ten minute sessions. After the signs were introduced, the children were given the opportunity to practice the signs. The children were also continually exposed to sign, due to the fact that there is a deaf child among the classroom population.

The results of this study indicate that using sign language to increase communication and interaction among mildly mentally retarded students had positive results. Overall initiations of interaction increased as well as positive responses to interactions. While the sign used in this study was limited, it should be viewed as a basis upon which a more complex use of sign can be built.