Dr. Marilyn Daniels is the premier author and researcher on the use of American Sign Language (ASL) with hearing children. Her research concerning the value of ASL for this population began over twenty years ago in the late eighties. In 1993, her first study on this subject, “ASL as a Factor in Acquiring English was published in Sign Language Studies. Since that time she has authored over twenty-five additional articles in peer reviewed academic journals and several books concerning the educational advantages of ASL. Daniels’ popular book Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children’s Literacy, is a widely quoted and highly praised book on this subject.
Daniels, a Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University, has been teaching college, producing research, writing, lecturing and instructing parents, caregivers, and educators on the benefits and use of ASL for well over two decades. Traveling across the United States, in the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan to conduct research and present her findings she continues to painstakingly mold an effective argument for enabling children with normal hearing to become full participants in language and communication with family and peers at a younger age through the use of sign language. Now she has authored a series of books to help parents and early childhood educators successfully and informatively sign with children at each stage of development. Sign to Speak: Babies Can Talk and Sign to Speak: Toddlers at Play are the first two volumes in the collection.
Daniels’ research receives attention in the popular media and is featured in magazines such as Business Week, Family Circle, Psychology Today, Better Homes & Gardens; newspapers including the New York Times, Harford Courant, Richmond Times Dispatch and the Toronto Star; and many radio and television segments on outlets like NPR’s Morning Edition and NBC’s Everybody is Talking. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them the Exemplary Program Award for Use of Sign Language as an Early Literacy Strategy presented by the New Jersey Association of Partners in Education and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the Donald C. Ecroyd Research and Schol arship Award, the Matthews Award for Excellence in Research, the Pharmakon Inc. Research Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award of William Paterson Universities’ College of the Arts and Communication.
Dr. Daniels earned her Ph.D. from New York University in 1989. She was granted a master’s degree in communication arts, summa cum laude, from William Paterson University in 1980. In 1979 had received her bachelor’s degree in speech communication, summa cum laude, also from William Paterson University.
Dr. Daniels finds the benefits for hearing children using sign language include:
• Improves English vocabulary
• Improves reading ability
• Improves spelling proficiency
• Enhances self-esteem and self-confidence
• Increases comfort with expressing emotion
• Increases receptive and expressive language skills
• Improves eye/hand coordination and general motor function
• Increases IQ scores
• Improves emotional intelligence
• Heightens joyful behavior
• Introduces a second language
• Increases a child’s attention span
• Decreases classroom conflict
• Boosts enthusiasm and readiness to learn
• Raises cultural awareness
• Influences a student’s ability to attend
• Fosters empathy for others
• Learning becomes more fun
• Facilitates classroom management
• Increases an interest for learning