Kansas School for the Deaf is an additive bilingual school in the form of maintenance where American Sign Language (ASL) and English are used equally in the classroom as the languages of instruction. KSD follows the frameworks and methodologies developed by the Center for English and ASL Bilingual Education Research (CAEBER)
. The three frameworks are as follows: signacy, literacy, and oracy. These three are the guiding force in the methodologies of bilingual education for the deaf. The Bilingual MultiMedia Room (BMMR) incorporates the signacy and literacy frameworks.
As Part of the Writing Process
Moreover, the signacy framework and literacy framework need to be aligned to maximize students' ability in expressive written English skills. Across the hallway is a computer lab where students write their papers in their second language, English, after having developed their story ideas in their first language, ASL. Like any bilingual student, students with emerging and developing second language skills experience writer's cramp because they are busy trying to put together words to create sentences without the support of their first language. For deaf and hard-of-hearing students,
with the support of their first language in ASL, they find writing a lot easier and more manageable.
Through the BMMR, this becomes possible. As part of the writing process, students brainstorm ideas in their first language, ASL, and create story webs, and then videotape themselves signing their story ideas. Next, students view themselves on a videotape and write down their signed stories in their second language, English. This becomes a rough draft of their paper, and they type their rough draft on computer. Afterwards, the whole writing process in the form of interactive, guided or independent takes place with students editing and revising their written work until a final draft is submitted. Students use the six-trait writing model to evaluate consecutive drafts of their writing. They also use a six-trait signing rubric (still under development) and other evaluation rubrics in the peer editing process. Also, there are videos that teach English grammar through ASL students can access. Alternatively,
some students, whose first language is English, can brainstorm ideas in written English and then videotape themselves signing a story in their second language, ASL. In other words, written English as their first language supports the acquisition and development of their second language in ASL.
The BMMR provides KSD students with opportunities to develop and refine their ASL and English abilities. For many students, ASL is their first language, and they need a strong ASL base for English acquisition and learning as their second language; whereas, other students with English as their first language can begin acquiring and learning ASL as their second language. The BMMR functions much
like a computer lab and is made available to all grade levels on a sign-up basis, and teachers facilitate the use of the room. Last but not the least, the room is also used for Deaf Studies and ASL classes where students study Deaf culture and ASL as part of the Deaf Studies and ASL curricula.