The Gesture Literacy Knowledge Studio

Help Build Better Communication

The Gesture Literacy Knowledge Studio strives to generate new knowledge, new experiences, and new paradigms related to gesture. The overarching question for us is how we may make the use of gestures in human communication more commonplace in our society. We wish to call attention to the universal human predisposition to gesture. It is found in all cultures, and there is evidence of gesture that dates back to antiquity. Yet, gesture as a critical, powerful component of the human capacity for communication has not been fully appreciated. The uniqueness of this knowledge studio is that the studies of gestural communication is being done from the perspective of signers. Examining the particular domain where gestures end and sign languages begin.


The studio is composed of four strands: research, education, development, and creativity. The goal of each strand is to find building blocks of gestures, to change public perception of the value and usefulness of gestures; and to create learning opportunities thereby making gestural communication more efficacious. Further indicated below:


  • Understanding human use of gestures across cultures and modes of communication.
  • Building a corpus of gestures drawn from different cultures worldwide.
  • Developing a gesture assessment tool to unlock the user’s ability to understand and use the gestures.


  • Make visual communication skills more attainable for hearing people who come in contact with deaf people and for families with deaf children. 
  • Broach the world of gestures to the world at large by changing public perception on the values and merits of using gestures.
  • Make gestures a more viable communication option. 
  • Develop different curricular approaches to gesture acquisition and reacquisition.


  • Develop novel pedagogical and technological approaches for promoting gesture-based communication and innovative technologies and resources to advance Gesture Studies. 
  • Develop Interactive platforms to maximize gesture and sign language exposure and experiences.


  • Increase the use of gestures in arts, literature, and theater.
  • Put Gallaudet University on the map as a center on creative gesture production. 
Garden of the university near Kellogg Conference Center

The location of the knowledge studio in the Kellogg Conference Center Hotel at Gallaudet University provides opportunities to create interfaces between research and the public. The proximity of the hotel to both the university and the neighboring community and its patronage by the non-signing public make the hotel an ideal site.

Team in GL Knowledge Studio at Kellogg Conference Center
Recording in GL Knowledge Studio at Kellogg Conference Center
Discussion in GL Knowledge Studio at Kellogg Conference Center
Discussion in GL Knowledge Studio at Kellogg Conference Center

The Team

  • Director– Ben Bahan 
  • Assistant Director — Patrick Boudreault 
  • Artistic Director – Silvia Palmieri
  • Faculty Affiliates – Monique Holt, Paul Dudis, Gaurav Mathur
  • Principal Consultant – Melissa Malzkuhn,  Marlon Kuntze
  • Visual Vernacular Artists & Guest Performers
  • Graduate Research Assistants: Ardavan Guity; Donovan Catt, Zahra Ketoun, André Jorge Martinez-Castiblanco, Giovanni Maucere
  • Undergraduate Research Assistants: Cem Barutcu, Estelina Kovacs
Logo of GL Knowledge Studio at Kellogg Conference Center

In collaboration with:

  • Kellogg Conference Hotel
  • Motion Light Lab (ML2)
  • School of Arts and Humanities
  • Department of Deaf Studies
  • Department of Art, Communication, and Theatre


  • Art and Media Design Program
  • Department of Linguistics
  • Brain Language Lab (BL2)
  • Visual Language Visual Learning (VL2)
  • ASL Connect