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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19092

Title: American Sign Language and Early Literacy: Research as Praxis
Authors: Snoddon, Kristin
Advisor: Cummins, James
Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Keywords: Bilingual education
American Sign Language
Early literacy
Deaf children
Early intervention
Issue Date: 23-Feb-2010
Abstract: This thesis presents an ethnographic action research study of Deaf and hearing parents and infants participating in a family American Sign Language (ASL) literacy program in Ontario. The thesis documents the context for parents and children’s learning of ASL in an environment where resources for supporting early ASL literacy have been scarce. At the time of the study, restrictions were placed on young Deaf and hard of hearing children’s learning of ASL, as the Ontario government’s Infant Hearing Program frequently did not provide ASL services to children who received cochlear implants or auditory-verbal therapy. This operational language policy of Ontario infant hearing screening and early intervention services was maintained despite evidence for the benefits that learning ASL confers on spoken and written language development in Deaf children. In this context, participation in a family ASL literacy program is a means for both supporting emerging ASL literacy in young children and resisting pathologizing Discourses (Gee, 2008) regarding signed language and Deaf identity. Through semi-structured interviews and observations of six individual families or parent-child dyads, the study documents participants’ encounters with gatekeepers who regulate Deaf children and their families’ access to ASL. At the same time, the setting of the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program is presented as a Deaf cultural space and thereby a counter-Discourse to medical Discourses regarding Deaf identity and bilingualism. This space features the Deaf mother participants’ ASL literacy and numeracy practices and improvisations of ASL rhymes and stories to enhance their suitability for young children. The practices of the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program leader also serve to define and support emergent ASL literacy in young children. In addition, a Deaf cultural space inside a broader context of public services to young Deaf children provides a means for the hearing mother participants to facilitate critical inquiry of issues surrounding bilingualism, ASL, and a Deaf identity. Collectively, the findings from this study highlight the benefits of emergent ASL literacy in Deaf children and their families, and provide an evidence-based rationale for Canadian governments and government agencies to better support this development.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19092
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning - Doctoral theses

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