Research based Information

All Deaf/HH children can be bilingual in both American Sign Language (ASL) and English (reading and writing).

ASL Facilitates English and Spoken Language Skills




PLAY with language with your child
Sign, Rhyme, Read & Sing!

They need MORE language exposure not less.

Understanding Language Development

Myths about American Sign Language

Many medical professionals are not language experts, especially when it comes to Deaf/hard of hearing children. If someone shares with you one of the myths below then they are spreading hurtful misinformation. Be wary!

  • American Sign Language is a fully intact language with its own syntax and a grammatical structure.

  • American Sign Language stimulates the same language center in children’s brains as speech

  • Using sign will help children’s ability to develop spoken language and reading skills
  • American Sign Language is a system of gestures

  • American Sign Language is broken English Learning American Sign Language hinders written English

  • Learning American Sign Language hinders spoken English



Don’t solely rely on your child’s weakest sense (their ears) as the ONLY access point for language.

I want my child to have language

Babies naturally acquire language IF they have access.

Language is biological. If your child is not naturally picking up spoken language they do not have enough hearing to naturally acquire spoken language. If you provide sign language, it is visually accessible, they will acquire sign language. Babies should NOT be taught their first language.

Language Acquisition

  • Naturally absorb language if the child has access 
  • Acquire language through a subconscious process; unaware of grammatical rules
  • A source of natural communication
  • Emphasis on information sharing and communication, not grammar

Language Learning

  • For older children
  • Direct instruction of the language (rules)
  • Parents do this informally by correcting
  • Teachers do this formally through instruction
  • Artificial Codes are not languages. They must be learned and never occur naturally.
    • Signing Exact English (SEE)
    • Manually coded English (MCE)
    • Cued Speech

Learning via…

  • Games
  • Pretend play
  • Conversations
  • Storysigning/picture books 
  • Rhyming
  • Incidental play

Learning via…

  • Flashcards
  • Vocabulary Drill
  • Spelling
  • Repetition
  • Instructions



Learn American Sign Language! Engage your child in a fully accessible language.

What you can do

  • Keep printed materials everywhere
  • Let your child see you reading
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and use them as a learning opportunity
  • Follow your child’s lead
  • Expose child to the print and make connections between the sign and/or spoken word and print
  • Label everything!
  • Even when communicating with other people (not directly to child), sign so the child has access to language and social cues.
  • Meet and interact with Deaf adults; introduce them to your children



Your Child is Hungry for Language! Your Deaf child’s brain is like any other, it craves language input.

Language is for Learning

It’s a Critical Time for Language

Deaf children who ARE NOT exposed to sign language:

• have slower rates of spontaneous looking, language, reading & literacy development.

Deaf children who ARE exposed to sign language:

• More frequently shift eye gaze in object naming and later book-sharing.

• Have stronger vocabularies, language, reading, and literacy.

• Have more advanced attention and self-regulation.

Source: See studies by VL2 Center Researchers, Jenny Singleton, David Corina, Rain Bosworth, Guinevere Eden, Peter Hauser, Matt Dye; and, Amy Lieberman’s VL2 Research Brief, Spring 2012, and others



Even with auditory technology, Deaf/hh children do not have immediate access to a spoken language.



Do what you can now. Connect with a Parent Mentor and a Deaf Coach.