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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Feb 9, 2001  3:57 pm
Subject:  Sign Writing for the severely mentally retarded

February 9, 2001
SignWriting List

Denise and Everyone -
I am reposting the letter below from a school in North Carolina. It
is an interesting letter to read, because there is such a diverse
group of Deaf students in their school district - All with unique and
special needs. They have already had success with SignWriting with a
mentally disabled student...which you may be interested in, Denise....

October 12, 2000

Union Pines High School
Union Church Road
Cameron, North Carolina, 28326

Dear Valerie:
The Program for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing from Moore County
Schools, North Carolina, would like to participate in your
SignWriting Literacy Project.

As the assistant principal for the high school, I will serve as the
administrator for this project. Both Mrs. Homesley and Thompson are
here everyday, which will help us to communicate with each other on
the progress that is being made utilizing SignWriting. Mrs. Homesley
will share with me the activities happening at her other two schools
as well.

Presently, we (the county) serve eleven students at three different
schools (elementary, middle and high). We have four full-time
interpreters (We are presently looking for one to two more
interpreters (any suggestions?).) and one full-time itinerant
teacher. Out of the eleven, six require the services of interpreters.
One out of the six is also mentally disabled. Nine are presently on
the diploma track. One student has not been placed on a track yet,
due to his young age/grade.

At the elementary school, there is one first grader. He is oral, but
we would like to see if SignWriting helps him with reading. (He
repeated kindergarten and is still not ready for first grade.).

At the middle school level, there are two deaf students - one is in
the seventh and one is in the eighth. They each have a full-time
interpreter. Both students use English as their signing system.

The high school has seven deaf and hard-of-hearing students. One is
in the ninth grade. She is deaf and signs American Sign Language
(ASL) fluently. There are four tenth graders. Three are
hard-of-hearing and one is deaf. The two hard-of-hearing students are
oral and do not sign. The one that is deaf, signs ASL and is mentally
disabled. The last two students are in the eleventh grade, deaf, and
require the services of interpreters. Their signing system is English.

All of the aforementioned students have difficulty with reading
comprehension, except for three of the tenth graders (hard of
hearing). The low receptive and expressive vocabulary stems from very
little prior knowledge to the information being presented. Their
language base does not have a strong foundation. One reason for this
could be that from all of the students that require services from an
interpreter at school, only one has a parent that signs to her.
Another student (at the middle school) has an aunt that is an
interpreter with our school system. They just have not had the
necessary explosure (in the air, on paper, in conversation,...) to
the written word, for it to be meaningful.

Two members (teacher and interpreter) of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
Program are interested in participating in your project. One of these
members has already introduced some of the students to SignWriting
and that is how the other member became interested. These staff
members are interested in learning and using SignWriting because of
the initial success the deaf-mentally disabled student has had so
far. This success has warranted a closer look at what SignWriting has
to offer the other deaf and hard-of-hearing students as well.

We agree, as a group, to complete three Web Reports in return for the
SignWriting materials and technical support you will donate to us. We
understand that this letter and all three reports will become public
information and will be posted to the SignWriting Email List and
posted on the SignWriting Web Site. You have our permission to use
the information as needed.

Please send SignWriting materials for two staff members (teacher and
interpreter), and for seven students.

Thank you for considering us for your project.


Lisa Akers
Assistant Principal

Robin H. Homesley
Teacher of the Deaf

Donna Thompson
Lead Interpreter

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