In this study, I use a very simple technique to test whether infants can tell the difference between two sign languages. Your child will watch two videos playing simultaneously, one on the left and one on the right of the screen. The same signer is producing two different languages or sign systems. I will record the infant's eye gaze to see if they have a preference for one video over the other. If they do have a preference, then we can assume that they can tell the difference between the two forms. The entire procedure takes around 8 minutes.
Requirements for participation:
An infant between the age of 5 months–18 months
An internet connection that is strong enough to watch videos clearly
A tablet or computer that can run Zoom (screen at least 10”) and allow you to participate with video
A time when you and your infant will be uninterrupted for 15 minutes
A quiet space in your house without any toys or other distractions
Make sure that Zoom is installed on your computer/tablet. If you have not installed Zoom before, please go to https://zoom.us/support/download to download the desktop app.
We will set up a time to meet on Zoom to practice technology and check set up. This can be the same day as we run the study, or it can be earlier.
We will look at the space you plan to use and make sure it can be set up correctly. We will test video quality in that space.
We will review the consent forms to make sure you feel comfortable and all of your questions have been answered.
I will run through a short interview with you about language use at home.
At the meeting:
We will meet on Zoom.
You will be seated with your infant facing the computer. You will be positioned with your back to the door, and no toys or other distractions in sight.
I will start showing your child short video clips of sign language. In between each video is an attention-getter video with a cute cartoon figure.
We will continue as long as your child is attentive.
Your participation is voluntary and you may change your mind at any time. If at any point you decide you would like to stop, we will stop immediately.
After the meeting:
I will gather data from many children and see if there is a statistically significant response that indicates a) how children respond to unknown sign languages and b) when deaf children go through perceptual narrowing.
I will take an exploratory look at early language experience, and see if there are any indicators about the impact of early language on perceptual development.
No identifying information or images will be used in the data analysis or presentation. Your information is completely confidential.
I am very happy to share your child's results with you, but please remember that this experiment is not diagnostic, nor are individual results necessarily meaningful. Individual children all develop differently; we are looking for results that indicate a general trend.