March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


3/14/2016  |   2:00 PM - 2:30 PM   |  Topical Session 2   |  Sunset   |  7 - Family Perspectives and Support

We’re all in: How and why one hearing family chose sign language.

Over 90% of deaf/hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents. Of those families, a minority of them choose to learn and use sign language with their children. Many families decide on other communication choices or may want to learn sign language but barriers exist that they do not know how to overcome. Barriers may include: • Lack of prior experience with deafness can make it difficult to embrace a new language and culture for their child. • ASL is not an easy language to learn (feeling awkward, not confident in their level of fluency). Even parents who have been learning ASL for many years are hesitant to say they know or use ASL. • Treating sign language as if it is a temporary language before oral English is acquired can be a disincentive to learning ASL fully. • Lack of opportunities to practice. Some reasons why parents decide to sign include giving their children any chance they can to communicate and leaving as much choice in the hands of their children as possible, when they become older (K. P. Meadow-Orlans et-al 2003). So what needs to happen to fully support a family that does want to learn and use sign language to communicate with their child? Come and learn about the challenges and successes of one family (Hearing Mom, Dad and sister) who chose to learn and use sign language with their Deaf child/sister. Lisa and Steve Crawford and their two daughters, Emma (19 yrs.) and Abby (17 yrs.) will share their journey and answer questions. Lisa is also a parent/professional and works with families in a state outreach capacity. Resources and ideas will be shared related to how to support families that want to learn and use sign language but may be struggling with barriers.

  • • Identify barriers and disincentives that some hearing families face when trying to learn and use sign language with their deaf child.
  • • Understand why some hearing families decide to learn and use sign language with their deaf child.
  • • Identify resources to assist families to overcome barriers related to learning and using sign language with their deaf child.

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Lisa Crawford (Primary Presenter), Texas School for the Deaf, lisa.crawford@tsd.state.tx.us;
Lisa Crawford is the Statewide Parent Liaison in the outreach department of the Texas School for the Deaf. She has been providing resources, information and programs designed for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing for over 8 years. She is also the administrator of the Texas Guide By Your Side program and a founding board member of Texas Hands & Voices. She and her husband Steve have two daughters, one who is hearing and one who is Deaf.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.

Emma Crawford (Co-Presenter), Gallaudet University, emma.crawford@gallaudet.edu;
Emma is a junior at Gallaudet University currently studying Psychology with a double minor in Family and Child Studies and Communication Studies. She is from Austin, TX and was the 2014 salutatorian at Texas School for the Deaf.


Financial -

Nonfinancial -