Early Intervention

Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language

By ASL, Bilingual, Bilingual Education, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research

Through collaborative efforts of VL2 Lab, California State University at Northridge and the California Department of Education in the dissemination of their video on the benefits of early exposure to a visual language and a bilingual ASL-English Education. A Spanish language version of this video is also available at the same link.

This movie, “Through Your Child’s Eyes,” was created from the vision of the California Department of Education and California State University, Northridge. Funding provided by the Annenberg Foundation.

This video reviews what we know about ASL and bilingualism (research that VL2’s work also corroborates).

All babies benefit from sign language. Thousands of hearing babies learn to sign before they talk. ASL is a language for the whole family and community. Vision is the natural pathway for brain cognition, connections and language acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing children. It taps into the child’s strengths. ASL supports the development of written and spoken English and other languages. Children can easily acquire and use more than one language at the same time. ASL is one of the most widely used languages in the United States. Time is of the essence. Infancy is a critical period for language access and language acquisition. But it’s never too late – hearing people of all ages can learn ASL.

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Rachel Shenton

By Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Professional Spotlight No Comments

“Sign language is crucial for deaf children… Early intervention is crucial. Education doesn’t just start in schools, it starts when a child is born.” Watch Oscar-winner, actress and screenwriter Rachel Shenton in Geneva’s #SDGStudio on today’s International Day of Sign Languages.


Early Access to Language

By ASL, Cultural & Medical Perspectives, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research No Comments

Indiana School for the Deaf elaborates about the importance of early access to language. For a summary of recent research regarding the importance of early access to language for cognitive development, please check this research article.


Acquiring English as a Second Language via Print: The Task for Deaf Children

By Bilingual, Cultural & Medical Perspectives, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Research


”Only a minority of profoundly deaf children read at age-level. We contend this reflects cognitive and linguistic impediments from lack of exposure to a natural language in early childhood, as well as the inherent difficulty of learning English only through the written modality. Yet some deaf children do acquire English via print. The current paper describes a theoretical model of how children could, in principle, acquire a language via reading and writing. The model describes stages of learning which represent successive, conceptual insights necessary for second/foreign language learning via print. Our model highlights the logical difficulties present when one cannot practice a language outside of reading/ writing, such as the necessity of translating to a first language, the need for explicit instruction, and difficulty that many deaf children experience in understanding figurative language. Our model explains why learning to read is often a protracted process for deaf children and why many fail to make progress after some initial success. Because language acquisition is thought to require social interaction, with meaning cued by extralinguistic context, the ability of some deaf individuals to acquire language through print represents an overlooked human achievement worthy of greater attention by cognitive scientists.”

You can read more in this journal article by Robert J. Hoffmeister and. Catherine L. Caldwell-Harris.


Education and Health of Children with Hearing Loss: The Necessity of Signed Languages

By Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information, Language Deprivation, Research

a screenshot of a research paper called Education and health of children with hearing loss: the necessity of signed languages

Medical and educational interventions for children with hearing loss often adopt a single approach of spoken language acquisition through the use of technology, such as cochlear implants. These approaches generally ignore signed languages, despite no guarantees that the child will acquire fluency in a spoken language. Research with children who have a cochlear implant and do not use a signed language indicates that language outcomes are very variable and generally worse than their non-deaf peers. In contrast, signing children with cochlear implants have timely language development similar to their non-deaf peers that also exceeds their non-signing peers with cochlear implants. Natural signed languages have been shown to have the same neurocognitive benefits as natural spoken language while being fully accessible to deaf children. However, it is estimated less than 2% of the 34 million deaf children worldwide receive early childhood exposure to a signed language. Most deaf children are, therefore, at risk for language deprivation during the critical period of language acquisition in the first five years of life. Language deprivation has negative consequences for developmental domains, which rely on timely language acquisition. Beyond the adverse effects on a child’s education, language deprivation also affects deaf people’s mental and physical health and access to health care, among others. Therefore, policies in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities are needed. Such policies would ensure early intervention and education services include signed languages and bilingual programmes where the signed language is the language of instruction.

Read more about this topic in Joseph Murray, Wyatte Hall, and Kristin Snoddon’s research paper.


Language Learning Through the Eye and Ear Webcast

By ASL, Early ASL Acquisition, Early Intervention, Early Language Development, Information

An image of the language learning through eyes and ears banner

This research-based webcast is designed to increase knowledge among early interventionists. The webcast addresses how deaf and hard of hearing babies acquire language and why one should sign with babies as early as possible. Babies are busy learning language from birth, even though they may not be signing right away. From the moment they arrive, babies seek patterns in human language whether signed or spoken. This webcast will give early interventionists a foundational knowledge to engage in dialogue with parents and professionals about the neurolinguistic benefits of early exposure to visual language for all babies.

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