Research Methods in Sign Language Studies: A Practical Guide
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More About This Title Research Methods in Sign Language Studies: A Practical Guide


Research Methods in Sign Language Studies is a landmark work on sign language research, which spans the fields of linguistics, experimental and developmental psychology, brain research, and language assessment.

  • Examines a broad range of topics, including ethical and political issues, key methodologies, and the collection of linguistic, cognitive, neuroscientific, and neuropsychological data
  • Provides tips and recommendations to improve research quality at all levels and encourages readers to approach the field from the perspective of diversity rather than disability
  • Incorporates research on sign languages from Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa
  • Brings together top researchers on the subject from around the world, including many who are themselves deaf


Eleni Orfanidou is Lecturer of Cognitive/Experimental Psychology at the University of Crete, Greece. She was previously Postdoctoral Research Fellow at City University London, UK, and Research Fellow at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College London, UK. She has published on various aspects of psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of Memory and Language, and Nature Communications.

Bencie Woll is Professor of Sign Language Studies and Director of the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College London, UK. She was elected as a fellow of the British Academy in 2012. She is the co-author or co-editor of many books, including her most recent, Sign Language: An International Handbook (2012) and The Signs of a Savant (2010).

Gary Morgan is Professor of Psychology at City University London and Deputy Director of the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College London, UK. He has published widely on sign language acquisition, theory of mind development, and psycholinguistic studies of sign languages, and he has developed several tests for assessing language skills in children. He is the co-author of several books, including Directions in Sign Language Acquisition (2002) and The Signs of a Savant (2010).


Notes on Contributors vii

Introduction 1

Eleni Orfanidou, Bencie Woll, and Gary Morgan

Part I Collecting Data WITH the Deaf Community 5

1 Ethics, Deaf-Friendly Research, and Good Practice When Studying Sign Languages 7

Jenny Singleton, Amber Martin, and Gary Morgan

2 The Deaf Community as a “Special Linguistic Demographic”: Diversity Rather Than Disability as a Framework for Conducting Research with Individuals Who Are Deaf 21

Thomas E. Allen

3 Dissemination and Transfer of Knowledge to the Deaf Community 41

Robert Adam

Part II Different Ways of Collecting Sign Language Data 53

4 Collecting and Analyzing Sign Language Data:

Video Requirements and Use of Annotation Software 55

Pamela Perniss

5 Transcription and Notation Methods 74

Onno A. Crasborn

6 Instrumented Measures of Sign Production and Perception:

Motion Capture, Movement Analysis, Eye-Tracking, and Reaction Times 89

Martha E. Tyrone

Part III Collecting Linguistic Data on Sign Languages 105

7 Sign Language Fieldwork 107

Victoria Nyst

8 Research Methods for Studying the Form of Signs 123

Rachel Channon

9 Methods of Research on Sign Language Grammars 141

Carol A. Padden

10 Documentary and Corpus Approaches to Sign Language Research 156

Jordan Fenlon, Adam Schembri, Trevor Johnston,and Kearsy Cormier

11 Methods in Carrying out Language Typological Research 173

Nick Palfreyman, Keiko Sagara,and Ulrike Zeshan

12 Data Collection in Sociolinguistics 193

Joseph C. Hill

Part IV Collecting Cognitive Data on Sign Languages 207

13 Research Methods in Psycholinguistic Investigations of Sign Language Processing 209

Jill P. Morford, Brenda Nicodemus, and Erin Wilkinson

14 Methods in Bimodal Bilingualism Research: Experimental Studies 250

Ronice Müller de Quadros, Deborah Chen Pichler,

Diane Lillo-Martin, Carina Rebello Cruz, L. Viola Kozak,

Jeffrey Levi Palmer, Aline Lemos Pizzio, and Wanette Reynolds

15 Studying Sign Language Acquisition 281

Amy M. Lieberman and Rachel I. Mayberry

16 Research Methods in Studying Reading and Literacy Development in Deaf Children Who Sign 300

Fiona E. Kyle 

Part V Collecting Brain Data on Sign Languages 319

17 Studying Sign Language Processing Using Functional Neuroimaging Techniques: FMRI, ERP, MEG and TMS 321

Cheryl M. Capek and Helen J. Neville

18 Studying Sign Language Disorders: Considering Neuropsychological Data 336

Peter C. Hauser, David Quinto-Pozos, and Jenny L. Singleton

19 Using and Developing Language and Cognitive Assessments with Deaf Signers 352

Tanya Denmark and Joanna Atkinson

Index 000


“The study of sign language has enriched our understanding of what it means to be human.  The editors of this book have selected leaders in the field to share their knowledge and tools with a growing community.” Mark Aronoff, SUNY

“This book is required reading for anyone conducting research within the deaf community. New and experienced sign language researchers will discover extremely valuable information about the methodologies, techniques, databases, and other tools that are now available for use across a wide range of linguistic fields.” Karen Emmorey, San Diego State University