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Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language

Letter Head: Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education

September 22, 2011

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language DVD

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce a new DVD called Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language. The DVD, funded by a generous grant from the Annenberg Foundation and in-kind contributions from California State University, Northridge (CSUN), celebrates the ability of children who are Deaf or hard of hearing to acquire a natural, visual language–American Sign Language (ASL).

With the advent of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and advances in cochlear implants and hearing-aid technology, children who are born Deaf or hard of hearing have improved opportunities for acquiring listening skills and spoken language. At the same time, the CDE recognizes research evidence that sign language supports and enhances the development of both spoken language and cognitive skills for all children. Research done by Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn showed that babies who learn to sign before they are able to speak, talk earlier and score higher on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests than their non-signing peers. Another researcher, Dr. Marilyn Daniels, showed that babies who learn sign language score higher on the Peabody Vocabulary Test than non-signing children. Dr. Christine Yoshinaga-Itano’s research has dispelled a long-held notion that teaching children who are Deaf to sign will delay their spoken language development.

The CDE encourages educators to foster every student’s linguistic development. Students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, can derive significant benefits when using ASL, even when those students are enrolled in programs that focus on developing speaking and listening skills. ASL provides a linguistic foundation that supports language development in English.

The DVD, Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language, available in both Spanish and English, can be viewed on the CDE Deaf & Hard of Hearing Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ss/dh/. The DVD can also be obtained on the CSUN Through Your Child’s Eyes: American Sign Language Web page at http://www.csun.edu/~tyce/about.html (Outside Source).

I hope you will share this information with all the families that you work with.

To obtain additional information regarding programs and opportunities for children who are Deaf or hard of hearing, or regarding the research referenced in this letter, please contact Nancy Grosz Sager, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs Consultant, State Special Schools and Services Division, by phone at 916-327-3868, by videophone at 916-993-3023 or 8660371-6722, or by e-mail at nsager@cde.ca.gov.

If you have any questions regarding the DVD, please contact Andrew Laufer, Education Administrator, Special Services and Support Branch, by phone at 916-319-0559 or by e-mail at alaufer@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tom Torlakson

TT:ngs

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