Stuttering in signed languages
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Little is known about stuttering in signed languages. Although disfluencies are known to occur in deaf users of signed languages, there has been little research suggesting that these disfluencies can be termed "stuttering". Because signed language studies is an emerging field and there are many answers that remain unknown, debate over the appropriate terminology for disfluencies in signed languages persists. While one argument is that stuttering is characterized by disfluencies in oral speech alone, a second argument is that the "stuttering" label can be extended to deaf signed language users as a result of similar neurological activations associated with oral speech and sign. Although not the primary purpose of this report, labeling disfluencies in signed languages as "stuttering" could have several advantages, such that the stuttering label could help individuals qualify for services, and determine the most appropriate ways to go about treating the disorder, clinically. There are several neuropsycholingustic theories which attempt to explain the etiology of stuttering. In this report, I will analyze each of these and suggest ways in which they can be adapted to stuttering in signed languages. The purpose of this report is to explore the idea of stuttering in signed languages and provide a framework and rationale for future studies of similar interest and intent. An examination of stuttering in signed languages will increase our general knowledge and awareness of stuttering, and suggest an alternative modality for which stuttering can be treated clinically.