In Special Issue “Critical Topics in Mathematics Education: Research to Practice with Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Students“ of the American Annals of the Deaf.
Abstract: Learning mathematics, as reported by numerous studies from deaf education, is different for deaf and hard-of-hearing students (DHH). However, rarely is the research focused on the different ways DHH students encounter mathematical ideas and how they deal with them in process of learning mathematics, for example, considering the unique complexities related to using sign languages (SL). While this includes the use and challenges of SL in the mathematics classroom, it also involves the opportunities that come with learning mathematics in this gestural-somatic medium. We will examine this issue within mathematics education, considering deaf students first and foremost as learners of mathematics and their use of SL as a special case of language in the mathematics classroom. More specifically, we will explore the use of sign language in teaching and learning mathematics within semiotic and embodiment perspectives – how their use might matter for the development, conceptualization, and representation of mathematical meaning in signs. While there are many sign languages, we focus our theoretical discussion on aspects found across sign languages that we illustrate with examples from our work and research with Deaf German and Austrian learners and experts, related to topics in geometry, arithmetic, and fraction concepts. The examples serve to inform the context of mathematics teaching and learning, more generally, by illuminating features of SL that distinguish learning mathematics for deaf learners in comparison to their hearing peers.