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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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American Sign Language and Early Literacy: A Model Parent-Child Program
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Table 4.1. Individual Family Composition

Child’s name

Child’s age at start of program Child’s identity as described by parent(s) Parent(s)’ name(s) Parent(s)’ identity
Charlie 7 months Hard of hearing/Deaf Bianca Hearing
David 9 months Deaf Grace Hearing
Henry 4 months Deaf Julia Deaf
Sarah 11 months Deaf Mary and Peter Deaf
Thomas 8 months Hard of hearing Alison Hearing
Violet 6 months Hearing Donna Deaf

Participants

Six families signed up for our program: two with Deaf parents and Deaf children, one with a Deaf parent and hearing child, and three with hearing parents and Deaf or hard of hearing children. Each family or mother/child dyad who participated became a miniature case study. Attendance was most regular for four of the families, and two attended more sporadically. Data regarding the families’ makeup is presented in Table 4.1

Parent and Child Participants

Charlie and Bianca. Charlie and his mother Bianca attended our program regularly.[1] At the first session, Bianca reported that Charlie had a “moderate to severe” hearing loss. However, during the course of our program, Bianca mentioned that Charlie was referred for repeated hearing tests, and it appeared that he had a more severe hearing loss than originally thought—from a severe to profound loss. Bianca and Charlie were referred to DSA (which informed Bianca about the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program) by the IHP. In a preliminary interview, Bianca reported having attended one AVT session with Charlie, and told me she planned to access ASL and literacy consultant services. (It later came to light that Bianca had originally requested duallanguage services that included learning ASL, but had instead been referred to AVT services by the IHP.) She also said that our program was the first time she and Charlie had gotten involved with learning ASL, although she has a Sign With Your Baby kit at home and had registered for, but not yet started, a baby sign program for hearing parents and children.

David and Grace. David and his mother Grace attended three program sessions. Grace had arrived in Canada from Hungary four years earlier, and Hungarian was her own and David’s first language. Grace learned about DSA through the IHP and was invited to attend our program when she met the program leader, Jonathan, at DSA’s family event. David attended weekly AVT sessions, and Grace reported that our ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program was the first time she and David were exposed to learning ASL.

Henry and Julia. Henry and his mother Julia attended every program session. Julia first learned about DSA services for parents with young Deaf children from a DSA staff member. Julia is a social worker and ASL instructor and is trained as an ASL and literacy consultant and ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program leader. She and Henry received ASL and literacy consultant services on a weekly basis, through the IHP.

Sarah, Mary, and Peter. Sarah and her parents Mary and Peter attended two sessions. This family had arrived in Canada five months earlier as refugees from Mexico, and their native language is Mexican sign language, or Lengua de señas mexicana (LSM). Peter previously attended Gallaudet University where he learned ASL, and Mary worked as a teacher of Deaf children in Mexico. Mary and Peter learned about the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program from a friend. They reported receiving dual language (ASL and auditory-oral) services from the IHP.

Thomas and Alison. Thomas (Tom) and his mother Alison attended our program regularly. Tom was reported to have a unilateral (in one ear), severe hearing loss. They were referred to our program by the IHP and did not receive other services.


1. All participant names (except for my own) are pseudonyms.
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