About ASL at Home

Motivation behind developing this book

The evidence shows that access to a first language, as early in life as possible, is crucial for deaf children to develop language skills commensurate to that of their hearing peers. For sighted deaf children, American Sign Language (ASL) is entirely accessible through the visual medium, regardless of hearing status. This curriculum is a unique tool to give hearing families communication with their deaf child, and to help them be the first language teachers to their children. Just like research has shown the importance of families’ talking with their hearing babies, hearing families with deaf children are entitled to the same experience with their infants and growing children.

Structure of the book

Each lesson is organized around a routine that is common in most young children’s days, to learn during a single home visit or center-based class, or they might be stretched over several visits. Depending on the structure of the early intervention program, visits may take place daily, weekly, monthly, or at some other frequency.

Lesson structure

Each lesson includes the following sections:

  1. Vocabulary

  2. Fingerspelling

  3. Phrase practice

  4. Receptive practice

  5. Language enrichment lesson

  6. Cultural wealth lesson

The need for this curriculum

The vast majority – 90-95% – of deaf and hard of hearing are born to hearing parents. Many families choose to offer their child multiple languages and modalities as they grow, in order to optimize language access and acquisition. However, for those who want their child to acquire ASL but do not already know the language themselves, the task before them (i.e., learning a new language) can seem daunting. While there are many resources available for learning ASL, few serve the hearing family of a young deaf child. Some of the resources already in existence include community-based in-person classes, in-person and online college-level classes, online self-driven programs for parents, in-person and online deaf mentoring sessions, one-time learning events, and more. We developed this book to fill some of the gaps left behind by the current opportunities available.