Information and Resources for Parents and Educators

American Sign Language and Early Intervention

In this article, VL2 lecture series presenter Dr. Kristin Snodden presents an overview on the implications and advantages of early visual language in early intervention in both Canada and the United States.

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the introduction in several countries of universal neonatal hearing screening programs has changed the landscape of education for deaf children. Due to the increasing provision of early intervention services for children identified with hearing loss, public education for deaf children often starts in infancy. While infant hearing screening and intervention programs hold promise for enhancing deaf children’s language development, concerns have been raised that these programs may not provide a well-informed or adequate range of options for families with deaf children. In particular, Ontario children who receive cochlear implants have frequently not been provided with support for learning American Sign Language (ASL), despite evidence for the benefits that learning ASL confers on spoken and written English language development in deaf children. This paper presents an applied linguistics perspective on early intervention policies and programs for deaf children.