Dr. Michelle Anthony and Dr. Reyna Lindert, Signing Smart program founders and the authors of the book Signing Smart with Babies and Toddlers: A parent's strategy and activity guide received their Ph.D.s at the University of California at Berkeley and have spent many years examining language development and doing research on sign language acquisition. Since graduating, they have been researching many aspects of development and language use in children who are using Signing Smart methods. In combination with creating materials and programs to facilitate development, Dr. Anthony and Dr. Lindert are committed to bringing their findings to relevant professionals and the larger baby / toddler sign language community.

National Study of Signing Smart Children
Drs. Anthony and Lindert have just completed a groundbreaking study on the benefits of Signing Smart methods in relation to early communication as well as spoken language development. They are in the process of formally writing up the results for publication in academic journals and presentation at professional conferences.

The study consists of more than 200 families from all over the country whose children range from 6 months to 19 months, and it includes both cross-sectional as well as longitudinal data. All families participating in the study used Signing Smart programming (through our workshops, play classes, or materials) for at least 8 weeks. Data were collected over a span of about 9 months.

Compared to developmental norms, Signing Smart children have enriched language and communication skills:

These results indicate that ASL signs, used in combination with Signing Smart strategies, facilitate both overall communicative abilities as well as spoken language skills in hearing infants and toddlers.

Additional Research by the Founders
Dr. Lindert conducted research indicating that ASL enhances communication between parents and young children, leading to extended interactions about themes of interest. In deaf or hearing families, ASL opens up the world of communication for children who are not yet able to speak.

Lindert, R. (2001). Hearing families with deaf children: Linguistic and communicative aspects of American Sign Language development. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of CA, Berkeley.

Dr. Anthony researched the relationship between language, gesture, and literacy. Results indicate that school-aged children's ability to integrate language with gestures (which is what hearing children using sign language do) is positively related to their literacy skills.

Anthony, M (2002). The role of American Sign Language and "conceptual wholes" in facilitating language, cognition, and literacy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of CA, Berkeley.

Signing Smart is currently studying the ways that signing facilitates hearing children's ability to think about and understand language at an early age. Preliminary findings indicate that hearing, signing children display advanced abilities in recognizing and producing rhymes and in understanding and using synonyms and antonyms.

Dr. Anthony and Dr. Lindert's research at the University of California at Berkeley Sign Language Acquisition Lab demonstrates that very young children use the iconic quality of true signs (their conceptually-based "picture-like" quality) to more easily learn and begin to use them.

Slobin, D., Hoiting, N., Kuntze, M., Lindert, R., Weinberg, A., Pyers, J., Anthony, M., Biederman, Y., & Thumann, H. (2003). A cognitive/functional perspective on the acquisition of "classifiers." In K. Emmorey (Ed.), Perspectives on classifier constructions in sign languages. Lawrence Erlbaum.