An American-Israeli professor of linguistics at the University of Haifa and founding director of the northern Israeli institution’s Sign Language Research Lab was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Wendy Sandler is the fifth Israeli women to be a member of the academy, joining past notable members such as Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela.

Sanders, who earned her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Texas-Austin in 1987, has most recently focused her work on the emergence of new sign languages, developing models of sign-language phonology and prosody, according to The Jerusalem Post.

She has also authored or co-authored three books, such as The Story of Israeli Sign Language.

“The study of sign languages illuminates the universal human genius for language, and it is only through language that we can formulate and share ideas, science and art,” said Sandler. “Through this work, contact with the deaf world has taught me that in diversity there is unity, if we can open our minds to both. Our sign-language theater of the body reaches across the barrier between deaf and hearing audiences, leading to profound shared experience.”

She added that “the mission and values of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences bring together seemingly disparate approaches to understanding and improving the human condition, and I am proud and deeply honored to become a member.”

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