ROSIE'S WALK: An Interactive Story in ASL
by Tracey Galya
Deaf children are often at a disadvantage when using popular children's
software. In addition to not being able to hear entertaining sound effects
and voices, they sometimes have trouble speech reading characters on the
screen and/or understanding printed captions. Rosie's Walk was developed
by Dr. Gerald Pollard at the Texas School for the Deaf to address this need.
Rosie's Walk is the first children's story adapted to the interactive
CD-ROM format that includes sign language. It was created specifically
to enable Deaf children to be just as engaged interacting with an electronic
storybook as hearing children can be. Based on a 30-year-old children's
book, the story depicts Rosie, a red hen, and her adventures on a beautiful
day. The pictures and text are accompanied by a sign language interpreter
who is dressed up as a farmer.
Rosie's Walk provides many options to match children's language and
reading skills. Children can choose to see the story signed in American
Sign Language or in Signed English. They can have a sign repeated by simply
clicking on a picture or a word in the text. They can access enrichment
vocabulary in text and sign by clicking on a button called "Secret
Words." Click on the frogs, for example, and the word comes up at
the top of the screen, the sign is shown in the corner, and the frogs jump
in for a swim.
In addition to telling the story in sign, the program includes several
instructional games which focus on improving both reading and signing skills.
In one fame children are asked to match a word signed by the farmer to
a picture or printed word on the screen. The teacher can choose identifying
nouns or prepositions for this game. One of the best activities is the
one in which children can practice changing phrases from American Sign Language
to English word order. For example, when the farmer signs "fence-walk-through,"
children have the opportunity to rearrange the words at the bottom of the
screen in correct English word order - "walk through the fence."
Activities like this are critical for deaf children as they need to learn
the underlying grammar of the English language, as well as sign language.
Overall, Rosie's Walk is a rich tool for enhancing reading instruction
and motivating deaf children to read. It provides bright, clear pictures,
captivating animated characters, a simple text, and sign language interpretation
in clear video clips. Rosie will soon be joined by a sign language-enhanced
version of five Aesop's Fables. This second in the series will be aimed
at middle school students and will include higher level concepts such as
synonyms and contextual word understanding. These CD-ROMs represent an
outstanding addition to educational software libraries.
Tracey Galya is a senior in the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Program at Trenton State College.
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