What is Key Word Sign?
Key Word Sign (KWS) is the use of manual gesture and natural sign to support communication. KWS uses a core vocabulary of signs from Auslan (the sign language used by the Australia Deaf community), accompanied by facial expression, body language and natural gesture. When using KWS the speaker talks and signs at the same time, but only the key words of their sentence is signed.
Why use Key Word Sign?
KWS is used to support language development in children and adults with communication difficulties. It can also be an effective way of reducing frustration caused by communication breakdowns, by giving a child or adult a way of getting their message across if they have difficulty communicating verbally. Through supporting language development and reducing frustration KWS helps to promote more positive communication interactions.
How do I use Key Word Sign?
When using KWS, follow these principles:
When do I use Key Word Sign?
When an adult or child is learning to use KWS it is important that their communication partners (family, educators, carers) model KWS as much as possible. The more you use KWS in your daily interactions with the person you are supporting, the more likely it is to become a successful communication system for them. Similar to how infants need lots of exposure to language to learn it, children and adults learning KWS need to see people around them using it.
Will it stop my child from talking?
Parents and carers might worry that the use of KWS will stop their child from developing verbal language but be assured that this is not the case. In fact, research suggests that it supports the development of verbal language.
How do I learn Key Word Sign?
Some free/low-cost Key Word Sign resources:
Written by Rhiannon Underhill – Speech Pathologist
Blog posts are written by all members of the RSP team.