Signing in Education

Classroom Education and Communication

Contemporary deaf education can favor one of three teaching methods, Sign Language, Manually Coded Language, and Oralism. Some places may even use a combination of two or all three approaches, whatever they believe best helps to educate the students.

Student, School, Classroom, Desk


Oralism is the education of deaf students using oral communication. It combines the use of speech, lip reading ability and teaches students how to imitate the mouth shapes and breathing patterns used in speech to help them with their speech production. Oralism is most commonly taught in place of Sign Language.


Manually Coded Language

Unlike sign language, such as BSL and ASL, the different forms of Manually Coded Language, follow the specific grammar rules of whatever spoken language is used in that area. For example, Manually Coded English (MCE) generally follows the grammatical rules and structure of English rather than BSL, which has its own structure. There are different forms of MCE, such as:


Signed English 

SE has borrowed signs from the local Deaf sign language, and new signs created for words with grammatical function.



There are 26 different signs for each letter in the the English alphabet.


Sign Supported Speech (SSS)  

Everything is voiced in spoken language, yet signing (in a form of MCE) is also used simultaneously with speech. 


Cued Speech

There are 8 hand shapes used to represent consonant phonemes, and 4 hand shapes around the facial area used to represent vowel phonemes.


Many in the (UK) Deaf community see using forms of MCE as odd and outdated. It is more regularly used by the older generation who grew up in a time when Sign Language in education was looked down upon and therefore rarely ever used in a classroom environment.