Parents are encouraged to visit programs, talk with professionals and other                     parents in order to determine which methodology is compatible with the family                     and the child’s needs.  It is the family’s choice. 

    American Sign Language/English
    as a Second
    Auditory-Verbal Unisensory Cued Speech Oral Auditory-Oral Total Communication
    A manual language
    that is distinct from spoken English (ASL
    is not based on
    syntax). Extensively used within and
    among the deaf community. English
    is taught as a
    second language.
    A program
    auditory skills.
    Teaches a child to develop listening
    skills through one-on-one therapy that focuses
    attention on use of remaining hearing
    (with the aid of amplification).
    Since this method strives to make the most of a child’s listening abilities,
    no manual communication is
    used and the child
    is discouraged
    from relying on
    visual cues.
    A visual communication system of
    eight hand
    shapes (cues)
    that represent different sounds of speech.
    These cues are used while
    talking to make
    the spoken language clear through vision.
    This system
    allows the child
    to distinguish sounds that look the same on the lips.
    Program that teaches a child to make maximum use of his/her remaining hearing through amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM system). This program also stresses the use of speech reading to aid the child’s communication. Use of any form of manual communication (sign language) is not encouraged although natural gestures may be supported.
    Philosophy of using every
    and all means to communicate with deaf children. The child is exposed to a formal sign-language system (based on English), finger spelling (manual alphabet), natural gestures, speech reading, body language, oral speech and use of amplification. The idea is to communicate and teach vocabulary and language in any manner that works.
    Primary Goals
    To be the deaf
    child’s primary language and allow him/her to
    communicate before learning to speak or even if the child
    never learns to speak effectively. Since
    ASL is commonly referred to as "the language of the
    deaf", it prepares
    the child for social access to the deaf community.
    To develop
    speech, primarily through the use
    of aided hearing
    alone, and communication
    skills necessary
    for integration
    into the hearing community.
    To develop language and literacy skills necessary for integration
    into the hearing community.
    To develop speech and communication skills necessary for integration into the hearing community. To provide an easy, least restrictive communication method between the deaf child and his/her family, teachers and schoolmates. The child’s simultaneous use of speech and sign language is encouraged as is use of all other visual and contextual cues.
    Language Development
    Language is
    developed through
    the use of ASL.
    English is taught as
    a second language after the child has mastered ASL.
    Child learns to
    speak through the early, consistent
    and successful use
    of a personal amplification
    system (hearing
    aids, cochlear
    implant, FM
    Child learns to speak through
    the use of amplification, speech reading
    and use of
    "cues" which represent different sounds.
    Child learns to speak through a combination of early, consistent and successful use of amplification and speechreading. Language (spoken/sign or a combination of the two) is developed through exposure to oral speech, a formal sign language system, speech reading and the use of an amplification system.
    Expressive Language
    ASL is child’s
    primary expressive language in
    addition to
    written English.
    Spoken and
    written English
    Spoken English (sometimes
    with the use
    of cues) and written English.
    Spoken and written English Spoken English and/or sign language and finger spelling and written English
    Use of
    is not a
    requirement for success with ASL.
    Early, consistent
    and successful
    use of amplification (hearing aids,
    cochlear implant,
    FM system) is
    critical to this approach.
    Use of amplification
    is strongly encouraged to maximize the use of remaining hearing.
    Early and consistent use of amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM system) is critical to this method. Use of a personal amplification system (hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM system) is strongly encouraged to allow child to make the most of his/her remaining hearing.
    Family Respons-
    Child must have
    access to deaf
    and/or hearing
    adults who are
    fluent in ASL in
    order to develop
    this as a primary language. If the parents choose this method they will
    need to become
    fluent to
    communicate with
    their child fully.
    Since the family
    is primarily
    responsible for
    the child’s
    language develop-
    ment, parents are expected to incorporate
    on-going training
    into the child’s
    daily routine and
    play activities.
    They must provide
    a language-rich environment, make hearing a
    meaningful part of
    all the child’s experiences and
    ensure full-time
    use of
    Parents are
    the primary teachers of
    cued speech to their child.
    They are
    expected to
    cue at all times while they
    speak; consequently,
    at least one
    parent and preferably
    both must
    learn to cue fluently for the child to develop age-appropriate speech &
    Since the family is primarily responsible for the child’s language development, parents are expected to incorporate training and practice sessions (learned from therapists) into the child’s daily routine and play activities. In addition, the family is responsible for ensuring consistent use of amplification. At least one, but preferably all family members, should learn the chosen sign language system in order for the child to develop age-appropriate language and communicate fully with his/her family. It should be noted that a parent’s acquisition of sign vocabulary and language is a long term, ongoing process. As the child’s expressive sign language broadens and becomes more complex, so too should the parents’ in order to provide the child with a stimulating language learning environment. The family is also responsible for encouraging consistent use of amplification.
    Parent Training
    If parents are
    not deaf, intensive
    ASL training and education about
    deaf culture is
    desired in order
    for the family to become proficient
    in the language.
    Parents need to
    be highly involved
    with child’s
    teacher and/
    or therapists
    (speech, auditory-verbal, etc.) in
    order to learn
    training methods
    and carry them
    over to the home environment.
    Cued speech
    can be learned through classes taught by
    teachers or therapists. A significant
    amount of time must be spent
    using and practicing cues
    to become proficient.
    Parents need to be highly involved with child’s teacher and/or therapists (speech, aural habilitation, etc) to carry over training activities to the home and create an optimal "oral" learning environment. These training activities would emphasize development of listening, speech reading and speech skills. Parents must consistently sign while they speak to their child (simultaneous communication). Sign language courses are routinely offered through the community, local colleges, adult education, etc. Additionally, many books and videos are widely available. To become fluent, signing must be used consistently and become a routine part of your communication.


    Bilingual Approach

    What is involved

    American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual gestural language with it's own grammar and syntax.
    ASL is different from signing English. Fingerspelling (use of a manual alphabet to spell words)
    is actively integrated into ASL for proper names and other terms for which there are no
    generally accepted signs. A bilingual approach supports development of American Sign Language
    as a child's first language, with development of English as a second language through reading,
    writing, and spoken language (specific to each child's potential and needs). Exposure to ongoing
    fluent ASL models are considered integral to the success of this approach.

    What supporters believe

    Supporters of this approach believe that visual language development is crucial to a deaf

    child's linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional growth. This approach supports American
    Sign Language as a valid and valuable language that has proven successful for developing
    an avenue for communication, life success, and literacy development for many Deaf
    individuals. This approach supports the belief that a child can most easily learn language
    visually through ASL, and then use ASL to help learn English. Supporters of this approach
    understand the wide variety of potential deaf children have regarding auditory and
    speech skill development and believe that development of auditory and speech skills
    will hold a different level of importance for each child and family. With careful planning,
    auditory and speech skill development can still be addressed at an early age when visual
    language is emerging.


    While the bilingual approach is gaining support as a valid approach for addressing the needs of

    many deaf children there continue to be many questions about it's use. There are questions
    about how a child makes the transition from use of ASL as the first language to English
    as a second language through reading and writing. There are also many questions related
    to how to address auditory and speech development within the context of this approach.
    There is sometimes concern on the part of hearing parents and hearing professionals that
    a bilingual approach may not provide the child with the necessary communication skills to
    integrate into the 'hearing' world. Another concern is that an environment to promote
    successful implementation of this approach (exposure to Deaf peers, Deaf role models,
    and ASL language models) may not be readily available in many schools.

    Total Communication Approach

    What is involved

    Use of all modes of communication- sign language (ASL or manually coded English),

    spoken language, mime, facial expression, gestures, etc... to facilitate language
    development and communication. The intention of this methodology is to provide
    a child with any modality necessary to support the child in developing language.
    It's intention is not that all modalities be equally weighted and utilized for all
    children. The most common embodiment of Total Communication, however, has
    become Simultaneous Communication. Simultaneous Communication is the use of
    the spoken word simultaneous with the signed version of all or part of the spoken
    utterance. The signs used are usually an attempt to match the spoken message.

    What supporters believe

    Supporters believe that use of Total Communication will provide a child with

    access to a visual language base and at the same time encourage development
    and use of spoken language. It is believed that if a child is provided with access
    to all communication modes that language and communication skills will develop
    and positive social-emotional development will be promoted.


    There are numerous concerns related to Total Communication (TC). Evidence

    suggests that use of all communication modes as proposed by a TC approach
    does not necessarily guarantee development of either a full spoken language
    or a full visual sign language. In terms of developing a language through signing,
    children may be exposed to varying signing systems in various programs. There
    is not one unified signing system used in each TC program. Some TC programs
    incorporate ASL, however, teacher fluency issues are of concern in many programs.
    Children in TC programs are often exposed to a telegraphic version of English
    and an incomplete version of American Sign Language. In terms of developing
    spoken language, many TC programs appear lacking in the structure needed to
    in bringing functional spoken language communication to children.

    A major concern in relation to TC programs is the evolution of Total Communication

    to be interpreted as Simultaneous Communication. When a child is provided with
    language that is spoken and signed at the same time, there is concern that clear
    communication suffers. The signed component of the message may contain inaccurate
    or incomplete information and the spoken component of the message may be altered.
    This may cause difficulty for children in developing a solid language base in either
    American Sign Language or English (signed or spoken).

    Cued Speech

    What is involved

    Cued Speech is a system utilized to assist in clarifying speechreading information

    for a child. Hand based cues are provided to help a child differentiate the various
    phonemes of speech that look similar on the lips. The system includes eight handshapes
    representing groups of consonant sounds and four locations of the handshapes near
    the face, each representing a group of vowels sounds. A combination of these hand
    configurations are coordinated with the natural movements of speech. This system
    reportedly can be learned in a short time (about 20 hours of direct instruction)
    and proficiency can be gained in 6 months to a year.

    What supporters believe

    Supporters of this approach believe that use of cued speech will provide the

    necessary visual support for a child to have access to spoken language. Supporters
    believe that children using this approach will develop reading and writing skills
    comparable to hearing peers and develop the communication skills necessary to
    integrate into hearing society. Some supporters of this approach are looking at
    how use of this system can be employed with children using ASL to help these
    students transition from development of ASL as a first language to English as a
    second language.


    Cued speech was developed as a system to assist a child receptively in obtaining

    spoken language. It does not necessarily help a child develop expressive
    communication skills. Children who use cued speech may or may not develop
    effective spoken language communication. Person's who use cued speech are
    limited to communication interactions with other cuers and cued speech transliterators.
    This pool of cued speech users may be limited.

    Oral Approach

    What is involved

    This approach supports development of spoken language through use of a child's

    residual hearing. Appropriate, consistently functioning hearing aids or other listening
    technology is integral to the success of this approach. Using this approach the child
    is also trained to obtain as much information as possible from speechreading.
    Speechreading is the ability to watch the lips and face of a speaker to obtain

    What Supporters Believe

    Supporters of this approach believe that vocal communication is the predominant

    medium in the world for social exchange and for maximum development of literacy.
    It is believed that provided with state of the art technology and an appropriate
    learning environment, that deaf children, regardless of their hearing level can have
    access to spoken language for successful development of language and communication


    Historically there has been a notable lack of success bringing spoken language to

    profoundly deaf individuals. The use of the oral approach makes everyday life and
    communication a struggle for many deaf children and may suppress the identity of
    the child as the attempt is made to normalize the child to hearing standards. While
    there are some children with sufficient residual hearing to learn spoken language
    using this approach, there is concern that a large number of deaf children will not
    have the potential for full access to Spoken English, making the learning of English
    difficult, if not impossible. There is fear that when only spoken language is utilized
    in the early years, that a child may develop the ability to say a few words, but may
    not develop a full language. These children may develop some ability to speak, yet
    they do not have a language for communicating. Subsequently they may be delayed
    in areas of learning and social-emotional development. This delay in establishing a
    solid early language base may then set up the child for a pattern of failure.

    For children who do not succeed using an oral approach, sign language is often seen

    as a 'last resort'. There is concern, however, that if sign language is initiated past the
    critical years for a child's language development, that development of sign language as
    a full language will be a more difficult challenge for the child.

    In summary:

    As you plan for a child in your class who is deaf or hard of hearing, it is crucial to

    be aware of the language and communication competency the child brings to the
    classroom. It is important to assure that the child continues to have complete access
    to language for continued language and cognitive development as well as for access to
    all educational information and social interactions.


    Web site: http://www.ncbegin.com/resources/pdf/comm-options
    • Support Services Handout Series from Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center   
    Web site:http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/SupportServices/series/4010.html