Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

The Effect of Signing Key Words for Demonstrating Work Instructions to Students with Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

The Effect of Signing Key Words for Demonstrating Work Instructions to Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

This experimental study was designed to test the effect on work productivity of using signed key words to demonstrate work instructions to high school students with learning disabilities. All qualified students with learning disabilities who had reading problems performed the same work task. The control group received standard written work instructions for the work task. A second group received work instructions for the work task using the experimental method, which consisted of the standard written instructions with the addition of signing key words. The findings showed that the quantitative and qualitative work productivity level of the students in the experimental group was significantly better than that of the students in the control group.

Recognition by the Rehabilitation Services Administration of specific learning disability as an appropriate disability category has facilitated the delivery of rehabilitation counseling services to individuals with this disability. According to the United States Department of Education (1990), in 1988 47% of the handicapped children and youth in the educational programs for the handicapped were categorized as having learning disabilities. Students with learning disabilities have difficulties in many areas of academic performance, but poor reading is the most frequently reported academic problem (Deshler, Schulmaker, Lenz, and Ellis, 1984).

Individuals with a "Specific Learning Disability (SLD) have a disorder in one or more of the central nervous system processes involved in perceiving, understanding, and/or using concepts through verbal (spoken or written) language or nonverbal means" (RSA, 1985, p. 2). Due to the complexity of this disability, a student with learning disabilities may develop reading patterns that differ qualitatively from the typical reading pattern (Lerner, 1985). Often such students have visual and/or auditory processing difficulties that can be complicated by poor attending skills. These students may not be able to comprehend the order of letters in words or sentences, and they may attend to only the beginning or ending of words.

Students with learning disabilities have problems that go beyond decoding. Some students have difficulty with comprehension due to linguistic and insufficient learning strategies. Other research on reading comprehension learning problems (Baker, 1982) suggests that students do not effectively monitor their comprehension while reading. Studies (Torgensen & Goldman, 1977; Wong, 1980) also have demonstrated that students with learning disabilities may have appropriate capacities, but fail to activate and employ them spontaneously.

One of the problems faced by students with learning disabilities is that many of them are seriously handicapped in vocational adjustment. Their problems are often related to the inability to comprehend written or oral material, which has important implications as they begin to make vocational plans. Traditional assessment procedures do not address the reading problems faced by many adolescents with learning disabilities. These problems are not ameliorated simply by having the examiner read the instructions to the students because it is often necessary for the students to remember the instructions, or be able to refer back to the instructions. An individual who does not understand the verbal instructions on a vocational test may not respond appropriately, and it follows that the measure of the person's ability may be inaccurate. Specific assistance in helping someone with a learning disability to comprehend and remember instructions may promote a more accurate vocational evaluation.

One type of assistance that may be provided is the use of signed key words for demonstrating work instructions in a vocation evaluation, which can be used simultaneously with a standardized methodology for demonstrating work instructions. The key words to be signed are taken from American Sign Language, but there is no attempt to teach American Sign Language as a system of communication. …

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