Glasgow-based grammar pilot helping deaf people

A new approach to teaching English-language reading and writing skills to deaf people is delivering “immensely promising” results, a charity has said.

Glasgow-based, Deaf Connections, is the first organisation in Europe to pilot Manipulative Visual Language (MVL).

The system makes use of coded “tactile wooden blocks” to symbolise different aspects of English grammar, which deaf people can find difficult to grasp.

Trials of MVL began in January on 12 deaf people from Glasgow.

So far, the results have impressed literacy tutor, Lucy Cole, who is overseeing the project.

“Basically, it can be very difficult for people who are deaf to grasp the grammatical rules underpinning English language,” she said.

‘Grammatical concepts’

“The MVL system breaks down this difficulty and addresses the unique learning needs of our profoundly deaf literacy students.

“Many people who are born deaf and have grown up pre-lingually deaf use British Sign Language as their first language and this may have huge implications on their English language development.

“BSL is very different from English in relation to grammatical concepts and structures.”

MVL was developed over the past decade by Jimmy Challis Gore, a professor at Gallaudet University in Washington State and Rob Gillies, a teacher at the Governor Baxter School for the deaf in Maine.