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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network; University of Ottawa Graduate Scholarship
Teaching Gestural Signs to Infants to Advance Child Development: A Review of the Evidence

Johnston, J. C., Durieux-Smith, A., et al. (2005).
First Language, 25(2), 235-251.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question Yes
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible No

Description: This is a systematic review of studies exploring the effect of gestural sign intervention for prelingual infants.

Question(s) Addressed:

  1. Do baby signing programmes work?
  2. Are these programmes effective in advancing expressive and receptive language, parent-child interaction and infant cognition as claimed?
  3. Can and should parents be encouraged to teach their hearing infants to communicate using gestural signs?

Population: Hearing infants who were taught sign language

Intervention/Assessment: Sign language

Number of Studies Included: 17

Years Included: 1980 - May 2003



"The review failed to support claims that signing facilitates language development, due to insufficiencies in scientific methods and to equivocal results" (p. 235).

Keywords: American Sign Language

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Added to Compendium: March 2012

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