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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