More About KWS for Parents and Carers

Key word signing is the use of signs alongside spoken words to support communication and language development. It is an Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) tool for those that are pre-verbal or have communication difficulties.

If you suspect your child has a speech delay or any other complications, please seek professional advice. Raisingchildren.net.au is a great resource, it is supported by the Australian Government of Social Services and has lots of information to point you in the right direction. There is lots of information on language delay

We are excited that you have chosen to explore key word signing as a communication tool for your child.

Some of the benefits of key word signing  

  • Signing encourages the communication partner to slow down their speech and emphasise key signs which encourage language 
  • Signs last longer than speech, especially as they can be held static allowing children the ability to imitate and assists with their comprehension 
  • Once the signs have been learnt by your family and your child you do not require any external resources when out and about 
  • Parent’s translations of gestures and signs has been shown to facilitate word learning in children9  
  • Some children are better able to process information visually over auditory, by signing and speaking you give your child the best possible chance of communication10 
  • Encourages communication as signing is often easier for a child than speech 
  • Signing encourages more eye contact which improves bonding between you and your child 
  • It reduces the frustration of the child as they can get their wants and needs addressed through sign 

Please note, that research has shown there is often a lag between when a person being signing and the child’s comprehension and ability to sign back. Therefore, please do not expect instant results and try not to feel disheartened if your child takes several months to sign back, it’s a learning process for everyone!  

Further, Sunshine Sign and Sing strongly encourages you to create a signing learning environment within your home, through incorporating sign into your routine and day-to-day life. We have created a number of resources to encourage signing at home, including children’s books, flash cards, song booklets and posters.

For your FREE poster and to see our range of Children’s resources, visit our SHOP!

References

1  

https://www.deafblindinformation.org.au/living-with-deafblindness/deafblind-communication/key-word-sign/ [accessed 2 July 2021] 

2 

 paraphrased from https://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/SPAweb/Members/Clinical_Guidelines/spaweb/Members/Clinical_Guidelines/Clinical_Guidelines.aspx?hkey=f66634e4-825a-4f1a-910d-644553f59140 – clinic guidelines – Augumentative and Alternative Communication – page 10 

3 Millar DC, Light JC, Schlosser RW. The impact of augmentative and alternative communication intervention on the speech production of individuals with developmental disabilities: a research review. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2006 Apr;49(2):248-64. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2006/021). PMID: 16671842. [accessed 5 July 2021].  Previously seen in Dr Leigha Dark presentation “Key Word Sign Australia Presenter Traning 2016 Issues in Research”  

4 Dimitrova N, Özçalışkan Ş, Adamson LB. Parents’ Translations of Child Gesture Facilitate Word Learning in Children with Autism, Down Syndrome and Typical Development. J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Jan;46(1):221-231. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2566-7. Erratum in: J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Feb;48(2):637. PMID: 26362150; PMCID: PMC4762014. [accessed 5 July 2021] 

5 Broadley, Macdonald and Buckley 1995, Remington & Clarke 1996, Schweigert & Rowland 1998, Miller et al 

6https://kwsa.com.au/what-is-kws/ [accessed 5 July 2021] 

7https://www.scopeaust.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/The-Story-of-Key-Word-Sign-in-Australia.pdf [accessed 54 July 2021] 

8https://kwsa.com.au/what-is-kws/ [accessed 5 July 2021] 

9 Dimitrova N, Özçalışkan Ş, Adamson LB. Parents’ Translations of Child Gesture Facilitate Word Learning in Children with Autism, Down Syndrome and Typical Development. J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Jan;46(1):221-231. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2566-7. Erratum in: J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Feb;48(2):637. PMID: 26362150; PMCID: PMC4762014. [accessed 5 July 2021] 

10 Broadley, Macdonald and Buckley 1995, Remington & Clarke 1996, Schweigert & Rowland 1998, Miller et al 

11 Millar DC, Light JC, Schlosser RW. The impact of augmentative and alternative communication intervention on the speech production of individuals with developmental disabilities: a research review. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2006 Apr;49(2):248-64. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2006/021). PMID: 16671842.