Sign Language Improves the Understanding of Art


English translation: Ixone Sáenz Paraíso

In 2014, Sara Pérez López carried out an investigation based on her doctoral thesis at the University of Valladolid in which she found differences of perception among Deaf people, hearing and Sign Language interpreters.

Deaf people are more effective when it comes to finding the most significant points of each artistic work, up to 35% less time than hearing. This is followed by Sign Language interpreters and, finally, hearing people who are not Sign Language users. In the research, hearing people’s eyes are found to be the most dispersed. The researcher concludes that the knowledge and use of Sign Language benefit the order of the gaze and its training in the perception of art.

For this research, Sara worked with three groups of people: hearing, Deaf and Sign Language interpreters. She selected 20 people from a total of 42, discarding those who had a medium or high level of knowledge of art.

By Sara Lopez (2014)

Sara used the Eye Tracking system, a set of technologies that keep track of the eye and allow the identification of the areas of what a person is looking at, where he/she focuses his/her attention, how much time he/she spends on each the area, etc.  Then all the information is stored on a computer. She presented the participants four images from different eras and materials while following up their eyes’ movement with the Eye Tracking system. In addition, she also made an on-site visit with each of these people to the work exhibited in the museums.

Reproducción del "Cuadro nº 48" de Manuel Millares
One of the pictures tested during the investigation: "Picture nº 48" (by Manuel Millares)

Sara believes that Sign Language can contribute to intercultural understanding:
There are multiple ways of studying and analysing the influence that Sign Language has in these areas, as well as the study of the benefits for these recipients. The implementation of Sign Language in multidisciplinary fields becomes a future task targeted to achieve normalization and foster dialogue between people, cultures and capacities.
In the following video Sara presents a communication at the 2013 CNLSE Congress about her research (in Spanish Sign Language and Spanish subtitles):

  • Pérez López, S. (2014): "Lengua de Signos y mirada. La influencia de la utilización de la Lengua de Signos durante la percepción visual" [Sign language and gaze. The influence of the use of Sign Language during visual perception]. In: La lengua de signos española hoy: Informe de la situación de la lengua de signos española; Actas del Congreso CNLSE sobre la investigación de la lengua de signos española 2013. Madrid: Real Patronato sobre Discapacidad. pp. 291-302. Retrieved from
  • Pérez López, S. (2014). Educación Artística y Patrimonial para la percepción, comprensión y reflexión del colectivo sordo en el ámbito museal. Estudio de casos evaluativo [Artistic and heritage education for the perception, understanding and reflection of the Deaf community in the museum field. Evaluative case study]. Doctoral Dissertation. Retrieved from
  • Pérez López, S. (2012): "Educación artística y patrimonial como vía de acercamiento para el trabajo con el colectivo sordo" [Artistic and patrimonial education as a way of approaching the work with the deaf collective]. In: Arte, educación y cultura. Aportaciones desde la periferia. COLBAA: Jaén, 2012. Retrieved from

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