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Signs of enhancement? : a comparison of visual spatial skill in signers and non-signers Springford, Janice A.


The effect of sign language experience on performance of visual spatial tasks was investigated in this study. Performance by signers and non-signers was compared on the Knox's Cube Test—Revised (KCT—R) in standard and experimental administrations, Color Trails Test Parts 1 & 2 (Form A) (CTT), and the Benton Test of Facial Recognition (BFT). Participants were 30 Deaf adult signers, 28 hearing adult signers, and 30 hearing adult non-signers. Deaf and hearing signers were also compared as subgroups of 1) native signers who learned sign language from their Deaf signing parents and 2) non-native signers who began to learn sign language later in childhood or in adulthood. Analysis of variance on raw and/or total scores indicated that hearing signers outperformed non-signers significantly on the CTT, Part 2. Both Deaf and hearing signers significantly outperformed non-signers on the CTT, Part 1. Differences between hearing signers and non-signers approached significance on the experimental administration of the KCT-R. No differences between signers and non-signers were found on the Benton Test or the KCT-R, standard administration. This study suggests that sign language experience may be enhancing some general visual spatial skills.

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