The Signing Family

What Every Parent Should Know about Sign Communication

First Edition

By David Stewart & Barbara Luetke-Stahlman

Categories: Parenting / Family, Deaf Education
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Paperback : 9781563680694, 192 pages, May 1998
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Parents of deaf children concerned with finding the best means of communication for their family will welcome the straightforward, reader-friendly information found in The Signing Family. In a style both positive and pragmatic, authors Stewart and Luetke-Stahlman employ common-sense reasoning to establish the importance of teaching deaf children language fundamentals as early as possible. This essential book for parents continues by explaining why the visual-gestural nature of signing is generally the best language mode for deaf children.

       Asserting that the choice of sign communication depends upon the specific needs of each family, The Signing Family shows parents how to create a set of goals for signing centered around the needs of their deaf child. Individual chapters follow that describe in even-handed terms the major signing options available: American Sign Language, Signed English, Signing Exact English, and Contact Sign. Readers will learn how each of these signing methods originated and, in the case of English signing systems, why they were created and what they are meant to impart to deaf children. Armed with the thorough information supplied by The Signing Family, parents can determine how each type of signing maps onto their goals for themselves and their child, both within the family and in the educational system.


David A. Stewart was a professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education at Michigan State University.

Barbara Luetke-Stahlman is a literacy administrator at Northwest School for the Deaf.