Terms Related to Communication

American Sign Language: A visual-gestural-spatial language in which the placement, movement, and expression of the hands and body are part of the language. It has a complete grammar and syntax different from English. ASL is considered by the Deaf community to be the natural language of people who are deaf.

Aural-Oral: A communication method in which listening is the primary means of understanding language and speech (talking) is the primary means of expressing language. In addition to listening, a child is encouraged to watch the speaker for additional information from speechreading, facial expression, and gesture. No sign language is used. This method is sometimes called auditory-oral.

Auditory-Verbal: A specific communication philosophy within the broader aural-oral category. The development of spoken language through listening and the use of residual hearing are central. One-on-one teaching, parent involvement, and inclusion in general education (rather than special or deaf education) are also emphasized.

Babbling: Term used to describe an infant’s first use of speech sounds. With an infant’s earliest babbling, there is no communication or language intent. Later babbling may be used as a part of a young child’s beginning communication system.

Bilingual/Bicultural: Being fluent in two languages and comfortable in two cultures. For a per-son who is deaf, this terminology refers to a person who is fluent in both American Sign Language and English and comfortable in both the Deaf Culture and the Hearing Culture.

Cognitive: Refers to the ability to think, learn, and remember.

Communication: The exchange of information through verbal or non-verbal means. Communication can include gestures, facial expressions, words, and/or signs. Children’s earliest communication with parents or other caregivers occurs before they use either words or signs.

Cued Speech: A communication method designed to make visually available all the elements need-ed to understand spoken English. The system combines information that can be seen through watch-ing lip movements with information from additional handshapes and hand positions near the face, used to identify sounds that can’t be seen on the lips or that look the same on the lips.

Fingerspelling: Using a visual, manual form of the English alphabet to spell out words. Finger-spelling is most often used to spell out words for which there are no formal signs.

Gesture: The movements of the hands or body that express an idea. Gestures include pointing, head nodding, waving good-bye and many others. Gestures can be used alone or in combination with words to communicate thoughts and ideas.

Jargon: Term used to describe the stage of language development when children string together sentence-like expressions t hat are not very understandable a s true words. Children can use either speech or sign jargon depending on their communication system.

Language: Shared code, used by a group of people, that determines what words mean and the rules for how words a re combined and used to convey ideas to others. Language can be spoken, signed, or written. “Receptive language” refers to our ability to understand the information conveyed by others. “Expressive language” refers to our ability to share information with others.

Manual Babbling: Term used to describe the early hand-shapes used by infants or toddlers who see sign language in t heir everyday environment. As with speech babbling, early manual babbling may not represent any true signs or words. Later manual babbling may be used as part of a young child’s beginning communication system.

Manually Coded English: A sign language system that uses a visual (signed) form of the English language. There are a number of system s for manually coding English. Most of these systems us e American Sign Language (ASL) signs as a base and also use English word order. Each system for manually coding English has its own variations and rules.

Simultaneous Communication (Sim-Com): A communication system in which spoken English and its manually coded (signed) version are used at the same time. The term “total communication” may at times be used to describe simultaneous communication.

Speech: Generally used to mean the expression of language through the spoken word. The term “speech sounds” refers to the individual consonant and vowel sounds that make up a language such as English.

Speech-Language Pathologist: A licensed professional who holds a degree in speech-language pathology and who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of speech, language, and voice disorders. This may include children whose speech or language problems are the result of a hearing loss.

Total Communication: In this communication system, the word “total” refers to the use of any form of communication that will enable the child to learn language. Manually coded English is one part of the system, which also includes speech, listening through amplification, print, and speechreading. The term “total communication” may at times be used to describe simultaneous communication (sim-com).