Chapter 3



This video textbook offers an accessible introduction to first, second, and bilingual language acquisition, focusing on sign languages as the primary frame of reference. Signed entirely in American Sign Language with accompanying slides and an optional English voice-over, this video text provides an innovative approach to conveying the visual, moving elements intrinsic to sign language, maintaining accessibility to both ASL-dominant and English-dominant readers.

Unlike most texts that rely on spoken language examples to illustrate the process of language development, Sign Language Acquisition by Deaf and Hearing Children draws from a rich body of sign language research to guide the user through the major developmental milestones for language acquisition. The textbook examines universal properties of first language acquisition, the wide variation in language input experienced by deaf children, and the impact of such variation on language development. Sign language development in other contexts, focusing on late-exposed signers, child and adult bilingual signers, hearing L2 signers, and atypical signers with cognitive disorders or Specific Language Impairments, is addressed, as well.

Critical terms and concepts are highlighted on slides that accompany each video chapter, indicating their inclusion in a 200+ item bilingual glossary, which is accessible from any point in the video textbook. The text also includes printable PDF versions of the chapter slides and a complete reference list. Sign Language Acquisition by Deaf and Hearing Children is an excellent resource for language acquisition courses and early intervention training, as well as for parents of deaf and hearing signing children.


Deborah Chen Pichler is a professor in the Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet University.

Marlon Kuntze is a professor in the Department of Government and Public Affairs at Gallaudet University.

Diane Lillo-Martin is Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut.

Ronice Müller de Quadros is a professor in the Department of Brazilian Sign Language at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Marianne Rossi Stumpf is a professor in the Department of Brazilian Sign Language at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil.


Advance Praise

“A great resource for both deaf and hearing students in linguistics, early childhood education, speech and language therapy, developmental psychology and many related programmes, which can be used as a course textbook or reader.”

— Bencie Woll, Chair of Sign Language and Deaf Studies, Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London, England

“This bilingual (ASL and English) text is a magnificent introduction to sign language acquisition by some of the world’s top experts. The multimodal setup will appeal not only to users of ASL. It sets a standard for textbooks that aim to be accessible to signers and readers alike. Even the glossary is bilingual!”

— Onno Crasborn, Professor, Department of Linguistics and Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University

“This text simultaneously elevates the status of ASL and, through meticulous presentation of facts about the language acquisition process and consequences of delayed exposure to accessible language, helps to dispel myths about sign languages and deaf children.”

— Leah C. Geer, Sign Language & Linguistics