Learning Sign Language Could Give You SUPER VISION


This is exactly the headline that one of the many newspapers and websites published about research that reveals that sign language enhances better reaction time in peripheral vision.

Superman symbol behind the shirt
S is for Superman (por Gareth Simpson, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)

The research was done by researchers from English and one French university: the University of Sheffield, in central England and one of the top 100 universities in the world; the University of Grenoble Alpes, in south-eastern France; and the University of York, also in England. The research paper was published in one of the world's most prestigious journals in psychology: Frontiers in Psychology.

The researchers recruited three groups of people: a group of 17 people who were born deaf and sign language users, a second group of 8 hearing people fluent in British Sign Language (interpreters) and a third group of 18 hearing people totally unfamiliar with Sign Language.

The Deaf group performed better in peripheral vision reaction times but this did not surprise the researchers, as it seems obvious that the lack of one of the senses (hearing) is compensated for by another (sight).  Charlotte J. Codina, the group's lead researcher, said:
Deaf people have exceptional visual abilities that hearing adults do not

Benefits of Sign Language for Driving a Vehicle or in Sports

What did surprise the researchers, however, was that hearing people who had learned Sign Language performed better than hearing people who did not know Sign Language, showing the benefit of Sign Language on vision even when learning it in adulthood.

This benefit on vision can become an advantage in some activities, as Charlotte Codina explains:
This shows that becoming a BSL interpreter is not only an interesting job, but it also has benefits such as making you more alert to changes in your peripheral field that could help when driving, playing sport or refereeing a football match for example
One might think that peripheral vision is silly, but it is actually very important, not only for activities such as driving or sports, but also for reading and in our everyday life. A well-known example is the following image: the train can appear to be moving forwards or backwards just by focusing your eyes to the centre of the image or to the right, an optical effect determined by peripheral vision.

La visión periférica determina si el tren va hacia adelante o hacia atrás dependiendo del punto en el que se fije la mirada
The train seems to change direction of travel due to peripheral vision

Just One More in the Long List of Benefits of Sign Language

This discovery adds to the many benefits and contributions of sign language, some of which have already been published in Unusualverse:
And, of course, Sign Language also has numerous advantages in communication where spoken languages do not reach.


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