What impact does using a visual or signed language have on cognitive processes? This very question is investigated through a targeted research project evaluating the relationship between mental rotation, math, and language processes in deaf individuals who use sign language (ASL) to communicate. Typically, mental rotation abilities map onto higher order mathematical ability. However, this does not appear to be the case for native signers. Instead, mental rotation is utilized in language processes and therefor appears to play a very different role in the brains of those that communicate using a visual language. Given that mathematical concepts are difficult to teach yet are an important variable in future success, this study discusses the meaning and utility of these findings with respect to real world applications and potential teaching models that may be helpful for a wide variety of student populations.