Title: 'American Sign Language Milestones: Age Appropriate Expectations'
Track: 3 - Language Acquisition and Development
Keyword(s): American Sign Language, American Sign Language development, American Sign Language acquisition
Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will identify the various benchmarks for ASL Language acquisition.
  2. Participants will integrate knowledge of ASL Language acquisition into their daily practice.


One of the challenges for parents/guardians in their child’s American Sign Language (ASL) development is not knowing what is age appropriate. Parents/guardians often struggle with expectations in their child's ASL acquisition. ASL is a visual language with its own structure and rules used by Deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. In 1960, William Stokoe, through research, found that there are specific underlying rules and structures to the language thus American Sign Language is not “broken English” with manually coded support. This workshop will show various milestones that first language speaker children go through in the language acquisition process based on research. For example, a 2 year old child is expected to be able to use two-three sign-word sentences that include verb, noun and noun/verb pairing. In this presentation, we discuss the various milestones at approximate age intervals in which children acquire specific skills with video examples across ages and grade levels for some of the milestones. You will see children who use ASL as L1 and L2 speakers in addition to a language delayed child whose first exposure to ASL was at age 4. Interactive activities will be provided to further understanding of the material discussed.
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Melissa Draganac-Hawk - Co-Presenter
Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
     Credentials: M.A., Lingustics, Gallaudet University Professional Certification, American Sign Language Teachers Association B.A., American Sign Language, Gallaudet University
      Melissa Draganac-Hawk is the Language and Curriculum Coordinator for 2 to 6 years old students at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Melissa also teaches American Sign Language and ASL Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Melissa is heavily involved, in various capacities, with community organizations focused on the deaf including National Council of Hispano Deaf and Hard of Hearing, American Sign Language Teachers Association, National Deaf People of Color, and she currently serves as the vice-president of the National Association of the Deaf.

Financial -

Nonfinancial -
Suzanna Long - POC,Co-Presenter
Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
     Credentials: Certified Teacher of the Deaf, State of PA; Master's Degree in Deaf Education, Gallaudet University
      Suzanna Long has worked as a Teacher of the Deaf in different capacities at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for the past 7 years. Originally hired as an Early Intervention teacher doing home visits and half-day playgroup for 2 year olds. Suzanna continued to work at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as a teacher for 3 years old and 4 years old students, and is now an ASL Specialist for students between 2 to 6 years old.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.