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What is SEE?

Signing Exact English (SEE) is a sign system that matches signs with the English language. It is one of the first manual English systems to be published (1972) and has become extremely popular in the schools. Children who are exposed at an early age to SEE are able to learn idiomatic standard English and thus have learning opportunities similar to those of hearing children.

What is the difference between SEE and American Sign Language?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a language in and of itself. It has its own grammar, syntax and idioms. It is as different from English as are Spanish, German or Chinese.  In contrast, Signing Exact English (SEE) is a sign system modeled after the English language. SEE includes many signs that are taken from ASL; however, the sentence structure, the idioms, the verb endings, etc. are taken from English. In essence, SEE is a visual form of English.

Is SEE a replacement for American Sign Language (ASL)?


Absolutely not! SEE has never been intended to take the place of ASL, which is an important part of the Deaf Community. Historically, knowledge of ASL has been important to permit communication within the Deaf Community. Today, it is important for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to know both ASL and English. Students who learn to communicate using SEE gain an understanding of the English language which allows them to effectively read and write English, despite not being able to hear the spoken words.

Does SEE help develop better English?

In recent years, researchers have begun testing children exposed consistently to SEE at home and at school. They are finding good, idiomatic English skills, with many children reading at or above grade level. It was found that these students had internalized some of the most complex rules of syntactic structure in English.

Who uses SEE?

The biggest user group consists of deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their parents, families, friends and teachers. Children born with hearing loss can learn signs at the same rate as hearing children learn spoken words. Children who are deafened at a later age also benefit from SEE.

A second user group of considerable size is the language delayed. Included in this group are hearing, but basically non-verbal, children who are severely, moderately or profoundly retarded, aphasic, cerebral palsied or autistic. With this group SEE provides a means for communication when spoken language is not feasible.

Another area of growing interest is in school programs for hearing students where teachers are incorporating sign language as an enrichment tool in their regular curriculum with songs and storytelling.

How is SEE learned?

SEE can be used in school and at home, by teachers and by parents. In the best possible situation, the child is exposed to clear, easily perceived English in both environments. Teachers and parents should communicate at all times using a combination of the SEE signs and spoken words. The most important learning resource is the Signing Exact English text, which describes the complete system and shows the signs in words and drawings. Additional learning aids include a workbook, and vocabulary kits. One of the newest resources is fingerspelling software and a series of videotapes designed for people engaged in independent study or those who want at-home enrichment.

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