With deep sadness we announce the death of our colleague John Bonvillian. John was a developmental psycholinguist who retired from the UVa Psychology Department in 2016. He was influential in founding UVa's ASL program, and he served for several years as director of the Linguistics Program.
John will be remembered for teaching many generations of college students, collaborating enthusiastically with grad students, and delighting everyone who knew him with the colorful stories (about everything!) that he so loved to share.
At the time of his passing John was still actively at work on a three-volume dictionary of simplified signs, which he had been developing toward the end of his career. His research showed that speech-accompanying manual signs, especially iconic signs, could be immensely helpful for those acquiring language. He was dedicated to this project because he was convinced it could enhance the quality of life for those who have a limited ability to speak, such as children with autism, Down Syndrome, or cerebral palsy. He hoped to extend the use of simplified signs to learning foreign-language vocabulary items as well. You can read more about John's work in the obituary that ran in the Charlottesville Daily Progress on May 13, 2018.
A memorial service is planned for early fall.