Modalities, Research and Personalized Programming

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Modalities Fact sheet (2017)

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Which Approach Should I Use With My Child Who is Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing?

For hundreds of years, parents of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have been faced with two exclusive choices for the education of their children: learning with sign language or learning through the use of spoken language and any residual hearing their child may have (historically called the “oral” approach).  Many families have felt torn about which language modality to provide for their child, and some have faced intense pressure to make permanent decisions prematurely.

At the Utah School for the Deaf, things are different.

Here at USD, parents can choose a dual immersion program using both American Sign Language (ASL) and English, an English-only program using listening and spoken language skills, or they can customize the educational experience for their child with all of the advantages of both programs.  Our highly specialized professionals are sensitive to the difficult decisions faced by parents, and in our schools the needs of the child always come first.  As the primary stakeholders in their children’s education, parents are encouraged to follow the lead of their children and to be flexible as their needs change over time.

How do we do this?  During the regular Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team meetings, our educators evaluate the progress, strengths, and weaknesses of each child with their parents.  Using this knowledge the IEP team determines appropriate goals, services, and placement for the child. Parents can send their child to a USDB school (Salt Lake, Ogden or Orem) or they can choose to place them within their local school district – with or without the support of USD specialists.

USD then implements the IEP team recommendations for each student. We recognize that each child’s path is individualized and can change over time.  If at any time a current placement no longer meets the needs of the child, the parent can request a meeting to discuss other options.

This web page is intended to offer access to facts, research-driven data, and expertise from a variety of professionals in the field of deaf education to assist parents along this journey. 

Pictured: Mom Kimberly and infant Pearl share their personal success story. 

Please review the following links for more information:

USDB Programs

Other Helpful Links

Relevant Research

Recommended First Reads for Parents

  • Evidence-based Answers to Common Questions by Parents of Deaf Children. Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Napoli, D. J., Rathmann, C., & Smith, S. (2019).
  • Review Article: Support for parents of deaf children: Common questions and informed, evidence-based answers. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 118, 134–142.

The Brain Has the Capacity to Develop Two Languages and Modalities

  • Kovelman, I., Shalinsky, M. H., White, K. S., Schmitt, S. N., Berens, M.S., Paymer, N., et al. (2009). Dual language use in sign-speech bimodal bilinguals: fNIRS brain-imaging evidence. Brain & Language, 109, 112-123.
  • Petitto, L. A., Katerelos, M., Levy, B. G., Gauna, K., Tetreault, K., & Ferraro, V. (2001). Bilingual signed and spoken language acquisition from birth: Implications for the mechanisms underlying early bilingual language acquisition. Journal of Child Language, 28, 453-496.
  • Swanwick, R. (2016). Deaf children’s bimodal bilingualism and education. Language Teaching, 49, 1-34. doi: 10.1017/S0261444815000348
  • Van Staden, A., Badenhorst, G., & Ridge, E. (2009). The benefits of sign language for deaf learners with language challenges. Per Linguam : A Journal of Language Learning, 25, (1), p. 44-60.

Use of Sign Will Not Impede (and Can Support) Spoken Language Development

  • Davidson, K., Lillo-Martin, D., and Chen Pichler, D. (2013). Spoken english language development among native signing children with cochlear implants. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education,19(2), 238-250. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1093/deafed/ent045
  • Giezen, M., Baker, A., & Escudero, P. (2014). Relationships between spoken word and sign processing in children with cochlear implants. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education,19(1), 107-125.
  • Mitchiner, J., Nussbaum, B. D., & Scott, S. (2012). The implications of bimodal bilingual approaches for children with cochlear implants (Research Brief No. 6). Washington, DC: Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://vl2.gallaudet.edu/research/research-briefs/english/children-cochlear-implants/
  • Seal, B. C., Nussbaum, D. B., Belzner, K. A., Scott, S., & Waddy-Smith, B. (2011). Consonant and sign phoneme acquisition in signing children following cochlear implantation. Cochlear Implants International, 12, 34–43.
  • Wilbur, R. (2000). The use of ASL to support the development of English and literacy. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 5, 81-104.
  • Yoshinaga-Itano, C. (2006). Early identification, communication modality, and the development of speech and spoken language skills: Patterns and considerations. In P. Spencer & M. Marschark (Eds.), Advances in the spoken language development of deaf and hard-of-hearing children (pp. 298-327). New York: Oxford University Press.

There are Numerous Benefits to Facilitating Both American Sign Language and Spoken English with Young Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Bavelier, D., Newport, E., & Supalla, T. (2003). Children need natural languages, signed or spoken. The Dana Foundation. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from http://www.dana.org/Cerebrum/Default.aspx?id=39306.
  • Easterbrooks, S., & Baker, S. (2002). Language learning in children who are deaf and hard of hearing: Multiple pathways. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Grosjean, F. (2008). Studying bilinguals. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Knoors, H., & Marschark, M. (2012). Language planning for the 21st century: Revisiting bilingual language policy for deaf children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 17(3), 291-304.
  • Meynardie, E. (Director), Petitto, L. A. (Researcher), & Scheuermann, S. (Producer). (2014). What the eyes reveal about the brain: Advances in human language acquisition—Insights from Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) and the Brain and Language Lab for Neuroimaging (BL2) [Webcast]. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://www.gallaudet.edu/clerc-center/learning-opportunities/webcasts/what-the-eyes-reveal-about-the-brain-webcast.html.
  • Nussbaum, D. B., Scott, S., & Simms, L. E. (2012). The “why” and “how” of an ASL/English bimodal bilingual program. Odyssey, 13, 14-19. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from http://www.gallaudet.edu/Images/Clerc/articles/Odyssey_SPR_2012_NussbaumScottSimms.pdf.
  • Petitto, L. A. (2009). New discoveries from the bilingual brain and mind across the lifespan: Implications for education. International Journal of Mind, Brain, and Education, 3(4), 185-197.
  • Rinaldi, P., Caselli, M., Onofrio, D., & Volterra, V. (2014). Language acquisition by bilingual deaf Preschoolers: Theoretical and methodological issues and empirical data. In M. M. Marschark, G. Tang, & H. Knoors (Eds.), Bilingualism and bilingual deaf education. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Swanwick, R. (2016). Deaf children’s bimodal bilingualism and education. Language Teaching, 49, 1-34. doi: 10.1017/S0261444815000348

The Brain is Not Biased to Learning Language Through Speech

  • Bavelier, D., Newport, E., & Supalla, T. (2003). Children need natural languages, signed or spoken. The Dana Foundation. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://www.dana.org/Cerebrum/Default.aspx?id=39306
  • Kovelman, I., Shalinsky, M. H., White, K. S., Schmitt, S. N., Berens, M. S., Paymer, N., et al. (2009). Dual language use in sign-speech bimodal bilinguals: fNIRS brain-imaging evidence. Brain & Language, 109, 112-123.
  • Krentz, U., & Corina, D. (2008). Preference for language in early infancy: The human language bias is not speech specific. Developmental Science, 11(1), 1-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00652.x
  • Petitto, L. A., & Kovelman, I. (2003). The bilingual paradox: How signing-speaking bilingual children help us resolve bilingual issues and teach us about the brain’s mechanisms underlying all language acquisition. Learning Languages, 8, 5-18.
  • Walker, E. A., & Tomblin, J. B. (2014). The influence of communication mode on language development in children with cochlear implants. In M. M. Marschark, G. Tang, & H. Knoors, Bilingualism and bilingual deaf education (pp.134-149). New York: Oxford University Press. 

Many Children Do Not Receive Enough Linguistic Input to Learn Spoken Language at a Typical Rate

  • Blamey, P. J. (2003). Development of spoken language by deaf children. In M. Marschark & P.E. Spencer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education (pp. 232-246). New York: Oxford University Press
  • Harris, M. (2010). Early communication in sign and speech. In M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education (pp. 316-330). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Geers, A. E. (2006). Spoken language in children with cochlear implants. In P. E. Spencer & M. Marschark (Eds.), Advances in the spoken language of deaf and hard-of-hearing children (pp. 244-270). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. (2007). Year 2007 position statement: Principles and guidelines for early hearing detection and intervention programs. American Academy of Pediatrics, 120, 898-921. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/120/4/898.full.pdf+html
  • Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. (2013). Supplement to the JCIH 2007 position statement: Principles and guidelines for early intervention after confirmation that a child is deaf or hard of hearing. Pediatrics, 131, e1324–e1349. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0008.full.pdf+hml
  • Kral, A., & Sharma, A. (2012). Developmental neuroplasticity after cochlear implantation. Trends in Neuroscience, 35(2), 111–122.
  • Nicholas, J. G., & Geers, A. E. (2006). The process and early outcomes of cochlear implantation by three years of age. In P. E. Spencer & M. Marschark (Eds.), Advances in the spoken language of deaf and hard-of-hearing children (pp. 271-297). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Pisoni, D. B., Conway, C. M., Kronenberger, D. L., Horn, J. K., & Hennings, S. C. (2008). Efficacy and effectiveness of cochlear implants in deaf children. In M. Marschark & P. C. Hauser (Eds.), Deaf cognition: Foundations and outcomes(pp. 52-101). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Sinclair, M. (1988). Panel criticizes U.S. on education of the deaf; in debate on the Hill, “mainstreaming” of hearing-impaired students is reexamined. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgov&AN=edsgcl.6468679&site=eds-live&scope=site
  • Spencer, L. J., & Tomblin, B. (2006). In P. E. Spencer & M. Marschark (Eds.), Advances in the spoken language of deaf and hard-of-hearing children (pp. 166-192). New York: Oxford University Press.

There are Adverse Neural and Performance Consequences When Language is Not Accessible

  • Emmorey, K. (2002). Language, cognition, and the brain: Insights from sign language research. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Hall, M. L., Eigsti, I.-M., Bortfeld, H., & Lillo-Martin, D. (2018). Executive function in deaf children: auditory access and language access. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 61(8), 1970–1988.
  • Harris, M. (2010). Early communication in sign and speech. In M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education (pp. 316-330). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
  • Henner, J., Caldwell-Harris, C. L., Novogrodsky, R., & Hoffmeister, R. (n.d.). American sign language syntax and analogical reasoning skills are influenced by early acquisition and age of entry to signing schools for the deaf. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.
  • Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., & Smith, S. R. (2016). Avoiding linguistic neglect of deaf children. Social Service Review, (4), 589.
  • Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Napoli, D. J., Padden, C., Pollard, R., et al. (2014). Medical Science Educator, 24(4), 409-419. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/dnapoli1/lingarticles/What%20Medical%20Education%20Can%20Do.pdf
  • Kushalnagar P., Mathur G., Moreland C. J., Napoli D. J., Osterling, W., Padden C., et al. (2010). Infants and children with hearing loss need early language access. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 21, 143–154.
  • Marschark, M., Schick, B., & Spencer, P. E. (2006). Understanding sign language development of deaf children. In B. Schick, M. Marschark, & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Advances in the sign language development of deaf children (pp. 3-19). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Mayberry, R. I., Lock, E., & Kazmi, H. (2002). Linguistic ability and early language exposure. Nature, 417(6884), 38. doi: 10.1038/417038a
  • Mellon, N., Niparko, J. K., Rathmann, C., Mathur, G., Humphries, T., Napoli, D. J., et al. (2015). Should all deaf children learn sign language? Pediatrics, 136(1), 170-176. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://deafchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ASDC-Pediatrics-2015-Mellon-peds-2014-1632-Should-All-Deaf-Children-Learn-Sign-Language.pdf
  • Morford, J. P., & Mayberry, R. I. (2000). A reexamination of “early exposure” and its implications for language acquisition by eye. In C. Chamberlain, J. Morford, & R. Mayberry (Eds.), Language acquisition by eye (pp. 111-127). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Van Staden, A. (n.d.). Comparing native signing, late-signing and orally trained deaf children’s “theory of mind” abilities. South African Journal of Psychology, 40(1), 97–106.

For Children Who Have Little or No Access to Sound, Effective Communication May Be Largely Visual

  • Baker, S. (2011). Advantages of early visual language (Research Brief No. 2). Washington, DC: Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. Retrieved on May 17, 2016, from http://vl2.gallaudet.edu/research/research-briefs/english/advantages-early-visual-language/
  • Emmorey, K. (2002). Language, cognition, and the brain: Insights from sign language research. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Harris, M. (2010). Early communication in sign and speech. In M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education (pp. 316-330). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Marschark, M., Schick, B., & Spencer, P. E. (2006). Understanding sign language development of deaf children. In B. Schick, M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Advances in the sign language development of deaf children (pp. 3-19). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Mayberry, R. I., Lock, E., & Kazmi, H. (2002). Linguistic ability and early language exposure. Nature, 417(6884), 38. doi: 10.1038/417038a
  • Morford, J. P., & Mayberry, R. I. (2000). A reexamination of “early exposure” and its implications for language acquisition by eye. In C. Chamberlain, J. Morford, & R. Mayberry (Eds.), Language acquisition by eye (pp. 111-127). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Natural, Interactive Language is Important for Shaping Brain Architecture

  • Center on the Developing Child. (2016). Serve and return interaction shapes brain circuitry [Video]. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Retrieved on May 17, 2016, from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/serve-return-interaction-shapes-brain-circuitry/.
  • Kuhl, P. (2004). Early language acquisition: Cracking the speech code. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5, 831-843. doi:10.1038/nrn1533

There are Numerous Benefits to Individualized Language Planning for Young Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Easterbrooks, S., & Baker, S. (2002). Language learning in children who are deaf and hard of hearing: Multiple pathways. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • French, M. M. (1999). Starting with assessment: A developmental approach to deaf children’s literacy. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University, Pre-College National Mission Programs.
  • Hafer, J. C., & Stredler-Brown, A. (2003). Family-centered developmental assessment. In B. Bodner-Johnson & M. Sass-Lehrer (Eds.), The young deaf or hard of hearing child: A family-centered approach to early education (pp. 127-149). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
  • Jamieson, J. R. (2003). Formal and informal approaches to the language assessment of deaf children. In M. Marschark, & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education (pp. 275-288). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. (2007). Year 2007 position statement: Principles and guidelines for early hearing detection and intervention programs. American Academy of Pediatrics, 120, 898-921. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/120/4/898.full.pdf+html
  • Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. (2013). Supplement to the JCIH 2007 position statement: Principles and guidelines for early intervention after confirmation that a child is deaf or hard of hearing. Pediatrics, 131, e1324–e1349. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0008.full.pdf+html
  • Moeller, M. P., Carr, G., Seaver, S., Stredler-Brown, A., & Holzinger, D. (2013). Best practices in family-centered early intervention for children who are deaf or hard of hearing: An international consensus statement. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 18(4), 429-445. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/4/429.full
  • Stredler-Brown, A. (2010). Communication choices and outcomes during the early years: An assessment and evidence-based approach. In M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education (pp. 292-315). New York: Oxford University Press.