This Brief Report addresses the fundamental role that sign language plays in the mathematics classroom of deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students. Selected findings are gathered from an ongoing study of signs and gestures used by DHH students and their teachers when encountering and communicating mathematical ideas at a German special-needs school that focuses on hearing and communication. The focus rests primarily on iconic aspects of mathematical ideas as reflected in the gestural–somatic modality of sign language. A categorization of iconicity in mathematical signs as used by the students is presented and used to reconstruct a case of meaning making in a Grade 5 geometry classroom. Insights gained from these observations lead beyond the DHH mathematics classroom by providing new perspectives on the interplay between language and communication, individual experience, and shared conceptualization.

Contributor Notes

Christina M. Krause, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Duisburg-Essen, Thea-Leymann-Straße 9, 45127 Essen, Germany;

(Corresponding author is Krause
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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