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July 23, 2005

U-Mass professor connects deaf students with geology

From: Providence Eyewitness News, RI - Jul 23, 2005

AMHERST A professor at U-Mass is testing a theory that deaf students have an easier time understanding geology.

Michele Cooke, who is partially deaf, said American Sign Language users are accustomed to interpreting visual cues. That might make it easier to pick up geography's 3-D aspects.

Those include things such as determining angles and making two-dimensional sketches out of formations they observe.

She recently led a field trip of 20 deaf high school students to explore fault lines in Utah.

Harry Lang, a deaf professor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, said there's no evidence in his research that deaf people make better use of vision than hearing people.

But he said sign language users have proven better at performing tasks involving mental imagery. He said Cooke would have to do more study to prove her theory.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.