Sign Language Incorporation in Chemistry Education

Learning organic chemistry with your hands

Rochester Institute of Technology is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). Over the last decade, the organic team at RIT has recognized the inherent difficulties of learning organic chemistry specifically for those who are deaf (D) and hard of hearing (HH) . A complicated vocabulary and a lack of dedicated signs in American Sign Language  (ASL) makes organic chemistry a challenge for D/HH students. Profound performance gains were observed after our team worked to develop, adopt and propagate a new sign language lexicon for organic chemistry terminology and, best of all, transition states by way of sign expansions.  Now, the team is investigating if the same learning gains can be achieved if these signs are also taught to hearing students taking the course. Learn more about the SLICE project here.

Our Goals:

Goal #1: Empower D/HH students to create and utilize signs for organic chemistry terminology.

Goal #2: Devise a strategy to propagate these organic chemistry signs to current and future D/HH students as well as interpreters. 

Goal #3: Assess the cognitive and affective learning gains for the adoption of such signs in both the D/HH community and the hearing community.

Goal #4: Disseminate these signs to a broader audience of users beyond RIT.

Contact Info

Dr. Tina Goudreau Collison/ Professor of Chemistry

Rochester Institute of Technology /School of Chemistry and Materials Science

85 Lomb Memorial Drive / Rochester, NY 14623

Office: GOS-3276 / phone: (585)475-2634 / email: