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July 2011

From the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)

NCSER Focuses on Families


IES also funds research under its other programs that contribute to knowledge, development, and evaluation of strategies to help families of children with disabilities support their child's educational success. For example, Thad Starner and his colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) are developing and conducting an initial evaluation of SMARTSign, an intervention designed to help hearing parents of deaf children learn sign language through the video delivery of signing on mobile phones. The intervention is intended to promote sign language learning among parents and improve students' use of sign language.

SMARTSign will present parents with short sign lessons on their mobile phones, spaced throughout the day to best encourage learning. It will also allow parents to ask for the appropriate sign or phrase in spoken English (e.g., "time to go to bed") when communicating with their deaf child. A video of the appropriate sign appears on the parent's mobile phone, and the parent can then repeat the phrase to the child.

This 3-year project started in 2010 and is funded with a $1.5 million grant from IES.

Mother and son using a phone together

A parent using SMARTSign to help her son with math word problems.

NCSER is encouraging research on families of children with disabilities. In addition to current research projects with family components funded under NCSER's other research programs, there are three new funding opportunities with a specific focus on families.