Linguistic proficiency has been called a central requirement for human life (Magnuson, 2000). Parents and professionals have rightly given great importance to the various discussions and studies concerning methods most likely to further children’s language development. Educators and parents have long debated whether access to visual language (American Sign Language, for instance) enhances or hampers the efforts of deaf and hard of hearing children who are learning to develop spoken language and literacy skills. In more recent times, the discussion has broadened to include the relative merits of signed languages when used with children who have no auditory impairments. Does the use of signs encourage language development in young children? If so, are the advantages available only to specific populations?
The following is a review of current research addressing these questions. Conclusions drawn support the use of sign language with all children: hearing, hard of hearing, and deaf, and including those who benefit from technological hearing supports. The information provided is by no means exhaustive, but is intended to serve as a resource for parents and professionals working with all populations of children, as they seek to help individuals reach their full potential. Learn more in Tiara V. Malloy’s research paper, called “Sign Language Use for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing Babies: The Evidence Supports It.”