NEW VL2 Storybook App: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Boy Who Cried Wolf The classic Aesop’s fable about the boy who cried wolf is brought to life in a wholly new medium with vivid American Sign Language storytelling, adding cinematic elements to a timeless tale. Accompanied by detailed paintings that evoke times of yore, this storybook app for the iPad comes with over 140 vocabulary words, signed and fingerspelled. App design is based on proven research on bilingualism and visual learning from Visual Language and Visual Learning.

In The Boy Who Cried Wolf VL2 Storybook you will also find:

• Talented and professional ASL storytelling by Justin Jackerson

• Original artwork by renowned artist Pamela Witcher

• Easy and accessible navigation designed for children

• Retina supported images

• Over 140 vocabulary words in American Sign Language!

• Perfect tool for parents learning ASL along with their child! Read together!

• Audio voice-over provided for all vocabulary words.

• App features page by page videos, as well as a full ASL story with animations!

All revenues from this app will go towards research and the development of more bilingual & interactive storybook apps!

You can find this app online here. BWCW 3 BWCW 2 BWCW 4


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.

From Education to Educator: Tim’s Story

Tim Albert

We sat down with Tim Albert, an active and important member of Georgia’s Deaf community and member of our Executive Committee, who graciously shared his story with us. We thought his journey was a great one to share with the Pathway community. It’s one of success but, like many of us, marked by an unrealized dream and unexpected twists and turns. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into Mr. Albert’s work life serving D/HH children throughout the state of Georgia!

What do you do for a living?

Currently, I am the Student Life Coordinator on the GSD Campus.
Tell me about how you got into your line of work.

After obtaining a Master’s degree from Gallaudet University in 2004, I received an email from one of GSD’s staff members saying that there was a social work position opening at GSD. I was set up to come to GSD for a job interview. I drove to Cave Spring from College Park, Maryland. It was my first time visiting GSD’s campus. I was nervous when I met with GSD’s Interview Committee Team; however, I did my best to answer all interview questions. When I got back to Maryland, I checked my email and received good news that I got the job! I moved to Georgia in 2005. Four years later in 2009, I applied for the Student Life Coordinator position and got the job.

Do you like your job?

Yes. It’s challenging and rewarding.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

I wanted to become a truck driver because my late uncle taught me and my little brother how to drive a truck. I love the feeling and thought of being high off the road and traveling all over the USA. Unfortunately, due to my deafness, I had to go with my second career choice. That was my big dream. Good news- I heard that all states in America have allowed deaf and hard of hearing persons can drive trucks (!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

At first, I thought that I wanted to work as a computer operator but it was such a boring job!  It was hard for me to think of what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was not until my early college years that I felt drawn to the Social Work field. It definitely is the ideal career for me!

What lessons has your work life taught you?

There are so many lessons I have learned though my years as Student Life Coordinator. To name a few important lessons; helping resolve conflicts between staff members and between staff members and students (very challenging at times), learning to be more diplomatic, role-modeling desired communication/interpersonal skills and being open, flexible and prepared for the unexpected.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

I would love to drive a truck.

Do you plan on retiring? If so, when? How do you feel about it?

Not yet, too young- smile!

Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

I never forgot about a former female student who did not like the new dorm rules. The female student and I didn’t see eye to eye on things, but I continued to work closely with her because I could see so much potential in this student. She has the drive and the intelligence to be successful like me but needed a great deal of support and encouragement. I liked challenging her. One day, she approached me and told me that she kicked my new car because she did not like me. I asked her to show me where she kicked my car.  She pointed at a blue car.  I told her that car was not mine. I laughed and she felt embarrassed. She then ended up laughing and knew she was going to get in trouble with the person who owned the “injured” blue car.

Thank you, Tim, for your openness and willingness to share your story! We appreciate all you do for GSD and Georgia Pathway!

To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

“I See What You Mean”: Visualizing English Grammar


Gallaudet University is quickly becoming my favorite resource for video lectures. They have speakers discussing everything under the sun.

Here’s one presentation that I thought would be very useful and informative for our Pathfinders who teach students in ASL.

Dr. Kristin Di Perri is an independent literacy consultant. The VL2 website describes her presentation:

Research on visual language and learning for deaf children continues to underscore the necessity for a pedagogical revision in the way we teach English literacy skills. However, there is often a disconnect between research implications and the actual implementation of effective instruction. In this presentation, Dr. Di Perri discussed an interactive instructional approach for teaching English grammatical elements in a manner that maximizes visual information and retention/internalization of concepts.”

I don’t mean to fool you.

This presentation has already happened.

But you can watch it (as many times as your heart desires) online at

This presentation is in spoken English with ASL interpretation and captions.

Enjoy (and let us know what you think)!


To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

Check It Out! … A Storybook App for Learning ASL

If you’re looking for a new, exciting way to teach your child or student ASL, check out this app, The Baobab, created by some of the foremost researchers and educators in Deaf Education at Gallaudet University.


Description from iTunes:

The Baobab is an original story about a curious little girl who embarks on an adventure. Complete with enthralling illustrations and talented American Sign Language (ASL) storytelling, this bilingual interactive storybook app features a rich American Sign Language glossary with 170 English to ASL words.

• Original and charming story told in ASL and English!
• Vivid Retina supported watercolor illustrations.
• Easy & accessible navigation designed for children.
• Rich interactive narrative with direct English to ASL vocabulary video translation.
• Audio voice-over provided for all vocabulary words.
• 170-word American Sign Language glossary! Parents can learn ASL along with their child.
• App design is based on proven research in bilingualism and visual learning. The ability to view the story in both, ASL and English leads to greater literacy skills in both languages in young children.

All the revenues from this app will go towards research and further development of more storybook apps.

Reviews of The Baobab App:

“This storybook app is simply outstanding. The illustrations, the video quality, the story itself – WOW. And it even teaches you ASL!”

“I am a bilingual Deaf person, and this one of the best ASL (American Sign Language)/English books I’ve seen. It is very easy to use and a great way to learn ASL and English. I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to be bilingual in the two languages.”

“What a top-notch app designed for ASL/English bilinguals and ASL-curious children! The VL2 team have raised the bar for what a quality ASL/English ebook should look like. I especially loved the beautiful loud-popping illustrations. Also, one feature I really appreciated was the uninterrupted ASL story with animated effects in the background. Oh, by the way, the hummingbirds were so cute!

The app does a wonderful job of creating a bridge between American Sign Language and English, giving children the flexibility to learn and use both languages interchangeably. We need MORE of that, so I’m really excited to see what they will come up next! What a great addition to a small yet growing collection of ASL/English eBooks!”

Created by VL2 and Gallaudet University


To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

Great News For Those Who Missed It…

I was overjoyed when I discovered that…

Dr. Beth Benedict’s ENTIRE talk on Early Intervention can be found online! In ASL, with spoken English interpretation.

Visit to watch Dr. Benedict’s lecture.

It is a must-see.

A big thank you to Gallaudet University for offering Dr. Benedict’s lecture to those of us outside the Gallaudet community! We appreciate you!


To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website or email us at

Infants, Toddlers, and Families: Collaboration and Leadership Program

When I visited GSD (Georgia School for the Deaf) on Tuesday, I met a woman from Gallaudet University, a professor who is spending her time helping the faculty and students at GSD become a bilingual school (ASL and written English). We got to talking about Georgia Pathway and professional development, and she mentioned the ITF program at Gallaudet (which can be taken online if you aren’t from D.C.). We believe in the power of Early Intervention at Georgia Pathway, so, needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that there was a program to certify professionals who serve the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Here’s a video that will give you a little bit of information on the program (and you may just recognize the woman on the right – Dr. Beth Benedict!)…

More information can be found on the Gallaudet website,

We’ve also included the course description below:

“The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers and their Families: Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program is a hybrid program (online and on-campus instruction) that provides professionals from a wide range of disciplines with current evidence-based knowledge and skills for working with families and their very young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The content and teaching of the program is interdisciplinary and provides an overview of professional and ethical practices, communication and language(s), families, and developmental assessment and programming. Candidates will acquire leadership, advocacy and collaboration skills that promote age and developmentally appropriate outcomes for infants and toddlers. All coursework and experiences reflect principles of diversity including understanding and appreciation of language diversity (ASL and English, as well as other home languages). This 7-course graduate certificate can be taken in conjunction with another graduate program at Gallaudet or another university, or as a post graduate program for professionals who have current or prospective employment in a program for deaf and hard of hearing infants, toddlers and their families.

The program focuses on the acquisition of knowledge and skills in four broad content areas. These areas include: 1) Professional and Ethical Practices, 2) Communication and Language, 3) Families, Cultures and Communities, and 4) Development, Assessment and Programming. Units of instruction are developed and taught by professionals with expertise in working with infants, toddlers and their families from a wide array of disciplinary backgrounds including, ASL and Deaf studies, communication studies, counseling, education, linguistics, psychology, speech-language-hearing, and social work. Bilingual (ASL – English) principles and philosophical perspectives are infused into the curriculum content and delivery of coursework and experiences. Each course will be offered for graduate or professional studies credits and will be co-taught by faculty from different disciplines. Units of instruction are developed and taught by professionals with expertise in working with infants, toddlers and their families from a wide array of disciplinary backgrounds including, ASL and Deaf studies, communication studies, counseling, education, linguistics, psychology, speech-language-hearing, and social work. Bilingual (ASL – English) principles and philosophical perspectives are infused into the curriculum content and delivery of coursework and experiences. Each course will be offered for graduate or professional studies credits and will be co-taught by faculty from different disciplines.

The program consists of 18 credit hours. The first course is a hybrid summer course of three-days on campus followed by online coursework. The second course is also during the first summer and is completely online. The next four courses are online during the fall and spring semesters. The seventh and final course begins with an online portion and concludes with a three-day on-campus seminar. The program includes an individually designed capstone project. The capstone project must be completed before the awarding of the certificate.

Online courses provide access to information through American Sign Language and English (e.g., presentations will be available through American Sign Language and spoken English or English captions).”


If you’re interested in learning more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

What You Need To Know About Early Intervention (That Only Dr. Beth Can Teach You)


Meet Dr. Beth Benedict.

She’s an expert in her field of Deaf Education and will be sharing her expertise this Thursday.

LIVE. In ASL. With live voice interpretation. And real-time captioning.

This Thursday, March 14th, from 4-5:30 pm EST, Dr. Benedict will be giving a live webcast presentation on Early Intervention, “How Early Intervention Can Make a Difference: Research and Trends.”

To watch the live webcast, visit

You won’t want to miss this opportunity!


A little bit about Dr. Benedict…

Beth Benedict is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies [at Gallaudet University]. Her work has focused on family involvement in schools with deaf and hard of hearing children, early childhood education, advocacy, early communication and partnerships between deaf and hearing professionals. Her teaching includes courses on Family Communication, Non Verbal Communication, Public Speaking, Group Discussion, and other relevant topics.

Dr. Benedict is currently a member of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, representing the Council of Education of the Deaf, which just finished writing a 2007 Position Statement. She was also a member of the Health and Human Services Constituent Expert Working Group on Effective Interventions for Infants and Young Children with Hearing Loss, coordinated by the U.S. Office on Disability. She has served on the Maryland Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Council and is currently the president of the American Society for Deaf Children.

Dr. Benedict has made numerous presentations at national and international conferences, schools and for family organizations. Published works include articles and chapters in numerous books related to early communication development.

Dr. Benedict is the mother of two deaf daughters (Rachel and Lauren), and is married to A. Dwight Benedict. Her family often participants in research projects that investigate the development of communication and literacy.