What is ASL?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language. With signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information.

Sign language is not a universal language — each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, much like the many languages spoken all over the world. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. Like all languages, ASL is a living language that grows and changes over time.

ASL is used predominantly in the United States and in many parts of Canada. ASL is accepted by many high schools, colleges, and universities in fulfillment of modern and “foreign” language academic degree requirements across the United States.

Reference:

National Association of the Deaf

http://nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/what-is-asl

 

What does this language look like?

Check out AMP (Accessible Materials Project), which is based in Georgia. AMP provides video for those who use ASL or who are learning ASL. One of their many videos can be found here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnQY1aKWrFE. This video presents sight words in written English and in ASL. Words are fingerspelled and signed.

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Research: “The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading”

“The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading”
Visual Language & Visual Learning (VL2)
What is fingerspelling?
On the most simplistic level, fingerspelling can be defined as the use of handshapes to represent letters of the alphabet.

Key Findings on the Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading:
• Deaf families fingerspell to their deaf children when they are very young.
• Early exposure to fingerspelling helps these children become better readers.
• Fingerspelling, reading, and writing are interrelated.
• Fingerspelling facilitates English vocabulary growth, and larger the lexicon, the faster new vocabulary is learned.
• Fingerspelling positively correlates with stronger reading skills. Deaf and hard of hearing children who are good fingerspellers are good readers, and vice versa.

Source:
Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2010, July). The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading. (Research Brief No. 1). Washington, DC: Sharon Baker.

A Day in the Life: Meet Franklin

Meet Franklin who is 5 years old. He is profoundly deaf and was identified at 1 year old. His parents, who are hearing, have chosen ASL as his modality. He is in kindergarten in a mainstream classroom.

4:03 PM

Franklin is just arriving home after a long 7 hour school day. He is hot and sweaty after his 45 minute bus commute from school to his house. He has homework to do – read a book and draw a picture of his favorite scene in the book. He can’t read yet, so he has to wait until his parents are able to read to him and help him with his homework.

Franklin is preparing for his homework activity by setting up on the kitchen table his paper, colored pencils, and the book he’s chosen. Mom works from home but doesn’t finish work until 5 PM. Dad won’t be home until much later, usually after 9 PM. Mom is a hearing parent whose ASL has improved greatly over the past several years, but she doesn’t feel confident in her ability communicating with Franklin.

Spotlight on Service: Medicaid Transportation

Medicaid Transportation
In Georgia, and anywhere in the United States for that matter, Medicaid covers non-emergency transportation to Medicaid members who need access to medical care or services. Eligible Medicaid members must contact the broker serving their county three days in advance of their appointment to schedule transportation. Each broker has a toll free number to schedule transportation and is available Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm.

Medicaid Brokers

How To: Add Language To Your Daily Routines

Sara spends hours on the bus with Harry every week, to and from services, work, and daycare. Here is a language lesson that any parent like Sara could use to incorporate language into their daily bus ride.


HOW TO: Add language to a bus or train ride

https://www.atlantaspeechschool.org/TALK

  1. Using the TALK strategy: Become a narrator of your child’s world by using the TALK strategy and Tune In, Ask Questions, Lift the Language, and Keep it Going to what your child is looking at and naming it or describing what’s happening.
  2. Vocabulary: Tier 1 words (basic words) for younger children or children with 1-2 spoken/signed words (i.e. trees, cars, bus, train, people, eating, running, jumping, let’s hurry, uh oh!) and Tier 2 words for older children (3 years and up) or children with 3 or more words spoken or signed

101 Tier 2 Words:

1. Abundance- more than enough of something

2. Admire- to like the way something looks

3. Advice- what you think someone should do

4. Annoy- to bother

5. Appear-to show up

6. Arrange- to put something in order

7. Arrive- to get somewhere

8. Assist- to help

9. Astonished- very surprised

10. Attentive- pay attention

11. Available- ready to be used

12. Avoid- stay away from

13. Brief- a short time

14. Cautious- careful

15. Collect- to get things together; to pick up things that belong together

16. Combine- to mix or put together

17. Comfort- to make feel better

18. Comfortable- to feel good

19. Communicate- to let someone know what you think or feel

20. Compare- to see how things are alike and different

21. Complete- finish

22. Concentrate- to think about something really hard

23. Concerned- worried

24. Confused- when you don’t understand

25. Contain- to have or hold something inside

26. Corner- the point where 2 sides come together

27. Correct- right

28. Create- to make

29. Curious- want to know

30. Dangerous- not safe

31. Delighted- happy

32. Demonstrate- to show how to do something

33. Describe- to tell about something

34. Destroy- to tear up; to ruin

35. Determined- to keep working at something until you get what you want; to not give up

36. Difficult -hard to do

37. Disappear- to go away

38. Disappointed- upset because things did not work out the way you wanted them to

39. Discover- to find out about something

40. Dispose- to throw away; get rid of

41. Eager- really ready for something to happen

42. Edible- you can eat it

43. Enormous- really big

44. Entire- the whole thing; all of something

45. Envy- want what somebody else has

46. Equal- the same as

47. Event- something that happens

48. Except- all but

49. Excited- really happy about something; having a lot of energy

50. Expect- to think something will happen

51. Expensive- cost a lot of money

52. Extraordinary- really special; very different and wonderful

53. Familiar- you’ve seen it before or you already know it

54. Famous- known by a lot of people

55. Fancy- really special

56. Favorite- the one you like best

57. Fewer- not as many

58. Fragile- breaks or gets hurt easily; not strong

59. Frustrated- feeling upset when you keep trying to do something but it doesn’t work

60. Identical – the same in every way; exactly the same

61. Ignore- not pay attention to

62. Imitate- do the same thing somebody else does

63. Immense- really big; huge

64. Impossible- can’t be done

65. Introduce- to show for the first time; to meet for the first time

66. Invisible- you can’t see it

67. Locate- to find

68. Marvelous- wonderful

69. Observe- to watch carefully

70. Occupied- being used by someone else

71. Ordinary- plain; regular; not special

72. Organize- to put in good order

73. Patient- to wait nicely

74. Peculiar- strange

75. Pleased- happy with something

76. Plenty- a large amount; a lot

77. Popular- liked by a lot of people

78. Predict-to say or to guess what is going to happen

79. Problem- when something goes wrong

80. Protect- to keep safe

81. Protect- to keep safe

82. Proud- to feel good about yourself; to feel good about something you did

83. Purchase- to buy

84. Recall- to remember

85. Remain- to stay

86. Remove- take away

87. Repair- to fix

88. Repeat- to do again

89. Ridiculous- very silly

90. Select- to choose

91. Separate- take apart

92. Similar- the same in some ways but not all

93. Simple- easy to do

94. Solution- a way to fix something that went wrong

95. Supplies- things you need

96. Transfer- to move from one place to another

97. Unusual- different; really special; not familiar

98. Useful- can be used a lot

99. Vanish- to go away fast

100. Variety- different kinds of one thing

101. Visible- you can see it

Monday: A Day in the Life

Meet Harry, who is 24 months old. He was identified at 8 months old with a profound hearing loss. He now has bilateral cochlear implants. His mom, Sara, has chosen Listening & Spoken Language as his modality. They receive services at the Auditory Verbal Center.

8:03 AM
Sara has slept through her alarm and baby Harry’s auditory-verbal therapy is at 10 AM on the other side of town. When Sara realizes this, she rushes to get Harry up and ready to go. Their bus picks them up at 8:25, so they don’t have even a second to lose. If they miss this bus, they will miss their therapy appointment, which will take another four weeks to reschedule. At 8:24, they make it to their bus stop, which is, luckily, right outside their apartment. They hop on the bus and head off to the Auditory Verbal Center.

Sara has been tossing and turning for the past six months, ever since her pediatrician told her that if Harry doesn’t receive the proper early intervention services, he will not have the language he needs to learn how to read. Sara’s a single mother whose worries range from How will I make rent this month? to Will my baby ever talk?
She wonders if she’s reading to him enough, talking to him enough, interacting with him enough.
Harry is a happy baby, interested in the world around him and the new sounds he hears every day. He enjoys reading books with his mommy and he has just started saying “mama.” Sara was overjoyed to hear her baby boy speak her name…

Update on Georgia Pathway

You’ve probably noticed that our blog and social media sites have been quiet over the past few weeks. The mission of our coalition has changed a bit. We have been collaborating with the Department of Public Health on the 100 Babies Project, and our work at Georgia Pathway will continue to inform the work of the 100 Babies Project. We hope to complement the work of the 100 Babies Project by narrowing our focus to parent engagement and parent education within social media. This new venture will begin next Monday, June 16th.

On Mondays, we will feature a family, either a family who uses ASL or a family who uses LSL (listening and spoken language). We will give the child’s background – age, age of identification, hearing status, modality, etc. Then, Tuesday through Friday, we will provide information that could help that family access language and services to help their child on a path to grade-level reading.

Monday:  We will share “a day in the life” of a featured family.
Tuesday:  We will share research relating to the child and family featured on Monday.
Wednesday: We will provide a language lesson that the featured family could use at home.
Thursday: We will feature a service provider, locally and nationally, that might benefit the family of the week.
Friday: We will answer common questions that someone might have who is new to the deaf/hard of hearing community. This will be entitled, “What in the world?”

If you would like to feature research, a language lesson, a service provider, or if you have a question you would like us to answer, please email us at gapathway@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you!

A Baby’s Language Development: Motor Imitation

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One of the most important early steps in [language and] speech development is to copy or imitate movements.

Helping your child learn to imitate movements will improve eye contact and interaction. Set aside one or two periods a day to focus on movement imitation. Establish a time and place that eliminates distracting noises and reduces visual distractions. No specific time period is recommended. You know your child best. Remember these sessions should be enjoyable for you and your child.

To begin, sit at your child’s eye level in a face to face position. This will assist eye contact and help direct attention. Children may be in a high chair during these play sessions to focus attention and reduce the tendency to roam the house. The following activities are perfect for beginning to learn to imitate.

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Make a box of functional objects that can be used for imitation. Your box may include: cups, blocks, cars, spoons, balls, hats, small boxes to open and close, toy hammer, toy vehicles, etc.

There is no specific number of skills that your child must learn. The above activities are suggestions. Use your imagination!

The above article was written by Linda Mawhinney & Mary Scott McTeague, which can be found in their book, Early Language Development. You can find their book online.

For a helpful chart that outlines imitation and child development, visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/itf09cogdevfdimit.asp from the California Department of Education.

A Baby’s Language Development: Turn Taking

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Turn-taking is essential in conversation as speech, language, [and sign] develop. In infants and toddlers, this skill begins in play and during joint attention and interaction. Taking turns is one of the early goals that your child will need to practice to become an effective communicator.¹

Play Activities to Encourage and Develop This Skill:

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Helpful Hints

  • Keep the objects for the activity out of your child’s reach. This allows you to control turn-taking and develop the skill.
  • Provide your child with tactile, visual, and verbal cues. Pat your chest when it is your turn. Take your child’s hand and use it to pat his/her chest for his/her turn.
  • Create anticipation. Engage your child in routine games that create anticipation. For example, you might play peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, sing songs, or read familiar books with repetitive phrases. During activities, pause and allow your child to anticipate what comes next.
  • Wait for your child to respond. Show your child that you’re eager to hear [or see] their ideas, by actively listening [and watching]. Lean in close, and give your child attention through eye contact and eager facial expressions. Most importantly, give your child ample time to respond by simply waiting.
  • Explain “talking-turns” or [“signing-turns”]. For older children, introduce the concept of “talking turns” [or “signing-turns”]. Encourage your child to let other people have their talking [or signing] turn, and wait for their own turn to talk [or sign]. You might even narrate this (e.g. “It’s mom’s talking turn right now” or “Now it’s your talking turn!”).

1. Mawhinney, L. & McTeague, M.S. (2004). Turn Taking. Early Language Development. Super Duper Publications.

http://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=bk315#.UqYJ_7Eo7ow

2. Swallow, D. “Turn Taking and Language Development.” North Shore Pediatric Therapy. http://nspt4kids.com/parenting/turn-taking-and-language-development/.

*The wording from the above articles has been changed slightly to include all language modalities.

A Baby’s Language Development: Joint Attention

kid boy and mother playing together with cup toys

What is Joint Attention?

From birth, parents respond to their infant’s coos, smiles, and movements as though they are meaningful communicative acts, and may smile, vocalize, or otherwise imitate their infant’s actions. These types of exchanges, sometimes called “proto-conversations,” are important for the infant’s developing emotional and social competence, including bonding and attachment, as well as early understanding of turn-taking and meaningful communication.

Beginning around six months, as infants become more mobile and start to explore the world around them, the focus of their attention shifts to the objects in their environment. Soon after that, they begin to coordinate attention between caregivers and objects in a meaningful way by looking, for example, back and forth between the caregiver and the object. This kind of shared focus between a child, a caregiver, and an object or event is known as joint attention. ¹

The Importance of Joint Attention

Infants’ ability to engage in joint attention is an important developmental milestone. Joint attention serves as a foundation for developing communicative competence and is one basis for the development of early social and cognitive skills.
For both hearing and deaf children, joint attention interactions are also crucial for language development. Specifically, the language children hear and see during this particular type of interaction with their caregivers is strongly linked to early vocabulary development. When caregivers share attention with their infants, and comment on the object or event on which the infant is focusing, infants acquire new words more easily and efficiently than if the caregiver simply attempts to redirect the child’s attention. Joint attention interactions that focus specifically on shared book reading have also been linked to later language development and reading ability.¹

How to Develop This Skill (Listening & Spoken Language)

  • Tell your child, “Look at me,” then tap his/her face and then your face. After you have given this verbal cue, give your child time to respond.
  • Point to a toy that your child likes and say, “look.” Gently turn his/her head toward the toy. When he/she looks at it, play with the toy or give it to him/her.
  • Hold up a toy or favorite item and say, “look.” Your child should look at you and then the object. Reward by giving the toy to your child.
  • Blow bubbles and say, “look.” Point as your child traces the bubbles. Blow more bubbles when he/she looks at you, repeat the word “look,” and point.
  • Blow up a balloon, but don’t tie it or let it go. Say, “look,” and release it when your child looks.
  • When your child becomes interested in books, point to a picture and say, “look.” Help your child point to pictures. The goal is for your child to look at you and then the picture. By sharing awareness and interest in the same picture or book you are achieving joint attention.
  • When another family member comes into the room, point and say, “look.” Reward your child for looking with a physical activity, such as tickling or patting.

Your child may need more time to understand what turning his/her head means, so don’t be discouraged if this skill is slow for him/her to learn.²

How to Develop This Skill (ASL)

  • Placing signs into the child’s current focus of attention;
  • Using attention-getting signals (tapping the child, waving towards the child) to establish eye contact before signing;
  • Physically setting up the interaction so that both the parent and the objects can be seen with minimal shifting (for example, sitting across from the child);
  • Waiting for spontaneous looks from the child before signing;
  • Providing relevant signs when the child spontaneously looks up;
  • Giving the child time to explore objects before eliciting attention; and
  • Using specific signs such as LOOK, along with a pleasant, positive manner, to prompt the child that linguistic input is forthcoming.¹


¹Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2012, June). Eye Gaze and Joint Attention (Research Brief No. 5). Washington, DC: Amy M. Lieberman

²Mawhinney, L. & McTeague, M.S. (2004). Joint Attention. Early Language Development. Super Duper Publications.