Title: 'Effective Family-Centered Sign Language Instruction In the Home: Strategies for Success'
Track: 7 - Family Perspectives and Support
Keyword(s): visually accessible environment, development of self-esteem, interaction with Deaf adults
Learning Objectives:
  1. Identify strategies for incorporating incidental learning in the home and social environments.
  2. Be able to use tools for including all family members in sign language instruction.
  3. Identify resources for enhancing communication in the home and community.


This session will expand upon information presented previously by the MA Family Sign Language Program and focus on describing the variety of ways Deaf tutors work directly with families in their homes. Families benefit greatly from interacting directly with Deaf adults who are excellent cultural and linguistic role models. Engaging children in activities and modeling effective communication strategies in the home is a critical step in enhancing language acquisition in very young children. Through role play, the presenters will demonstrate strategies for incorporating incidental learning in both home and social environments. Suggestions will be given on ways to include all members of the family, including those who might be somewhat hesitant, in learning sign language skills to increase communication in the home. Tools for including siblings, encouraging positive interactions will be discussed. Strategies encouraging family members to read with their children to boost literacy skills will also be demonstrated. We will present a variety of videotaped interactive situations between tutors and families in the MA Family Sign Language Program. An interactive model will be used to demonstrate an active learning environment and hands-on activities among caregivers and their children. Creating an environment which is visually accessible for children who are deaf and hard of hearing is an important step in family communication and the development of self-esteem. Through video, family members who have participated in the MA Family Sign Language Program will share their experiences and reflections on how the services provided in their homes has impacted their family life and communications with their child. The presenters will also share online and community resources for families and early intervention providers. We will also note opportunities where families can share resources and experiences with each other for the benefit of their young children.
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Handouts: Handout is not Available
Kathleen Vesey - POC,Co-Presenter
Gallaudet University Regional Center
     Credentials: M.B.A., Boston University MA, Gallaudet University, BA, Regis College
      Ms. Vesey has been the director of the Gallaudet University Regional Center at Northern Essex Community College since 1990. Previously she directed a large K-12 program serving students who are deaf and hard of hearing in southeastern MA. She has worked professionally as an administrator, educator, and counselor. Ms. Vesey is currently on the Advisory Board for the MA Newborn Hearing Screening Program. She has been instrumental in adapting the Shared Reading Program to include families with children with hearing losses who speak Spanish in the home.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.
Glenys Crane-Emerson - Co-Presenter
Family Sign Language Program
     Credentials: BA, Social Work
      Ms. Crane-Emerson is currently the Coordinator of the Massachusetts Family Sign Language Program. Her experience includes provision of sign language instruction for families in their homes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In addition, she provides instruction for family members participating in a monthly Shared Reading Saturdays Program operated by the GURC. Ms. Crane-Emerson also has experience as an instructor of American Sign Language, and as a job coach and employment mentor. She is an active member of the deaf community.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.