SBIR Phase I: Signing Science for Kids

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Institute for Disabilities Research and Training
11323 Amherst Avenue
silver spring, MD 20902
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to addresses the need for improved science literacy and knowledge of young deaf children by producing an e-book series on STEM topics with American Sign Language (ASL) translations. Each e-book will focus on a specific topic and include three original related sub-topic stories. Each story will be accompanied by: 3 interactive learning games (9 in total) that foster developmentally appropriate critical thinking skills with scientific applications; study questions accessible on each screen that provoke further thought and investigation, and recommended experiments to do at home or in the classroom. The topic area chosen for the Phase I e-book is Weather, and the stories will focus on Wind, Temperature, and Rain/Clouds/Rainbows. These e-books will contain options to view the story content in ASL (video), as well as English text and audio. All science terminology will be viewable individually as a sign video clip. All instructions within the e-books will include ASL video translations with voice-over. A Dictionary, accessible through any of the screens, will enable users to read, play ASL video of, and print graphics of the signs and concepts related to all of the scientific vocabulary used in the e-book. The broader impact of the ASL-translated STEM e-book series is increased knowledge and reading achievement scores of deaf children through the use of these assistive materials. Reading achievement scores of deaf children usually fall far short of those of hearing children with comparable abilities because English is a second language for deaf children (ASL being their primary language). While many deaf students may not understand a sentence in print, they may understand it perfectly if it is presented in ASL. Incorporation of ASL into science content positively impacts on reading achievement and information retention. A major reason deaf people frequently have limited knowledge of science and are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is that much formal scientific information is not in accessible formats. In fact, nearly all scientific information currently available is audio and text-based and without interpretation into sign language. By starting with young children, we can stimulate early interest in STEM fields. This product will be tremendously useful to teachers, parents, speech/language pathologists, etc. who have a need to support understanding of early science instructional materials, and particularly STEM terminology and symbols, with ASL signs for purposes of literacy improvement and curriculum enhancement.