March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


3/14/2016  |   2:30 PM - 3:00 PM   |  Topical Session 2   |  Sunset   |  10 - Policy, Advocacy and Legislative Issues

21st Century Options and Choices

Current practice within the current EHDI system is geared toward working with families of deaf/hard of hearing (DHH) infants and toddlers, presenting them with comprehensive information about language and communication so they can make informed decisions about which language (typically ASL or spoken language) might be most appropriate for their family. While well-intentioned, the idea of creating a mindset where families are presented with 'choices' and 'options,' actually creates a false-dichotomy. Families today are asked much earlier than ever to make these kinds of decisions (Davidson, Lillo-Martin, Chen Pichler, 2013). While experts universally agree that early access to language is critical, there still seems to be a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda to limit exposure for young children to multiple languages, specifically in two modalities (Mellon, et.al., 2015). This mindset contradicts prolific research demonstrating overwhelming cognitive benefits of bilingualism. It also contradicts scientific evidence showing the brain processes language similarly across signed and spoken languages (Pettito, 2009). Using terminology such as 'choices' and 'options,' presents this subtle, yet inaccurate, idea to families that they must pick one, and that they really have an option. Families frequently become entrenched in their choice and are challenged when there is a need for something different, perhaps because the option they selected isn't working. It also perpetuates poor educational programming where, as students, DHH children receive either spoken language instruction OR instruction in ASL. RARELY a model of bi-modal, bilingual education is presented. This presentation will contextualize and discuss these ideas, as well as provide opportunities for alternatives to be identified for practices within early intervention and school-age programming.

  • explain ideas associated with "choices" and "options" for DHH children.
  • discuss pros and cons of bi-modal/ bilingualism
  • identify alternatives for current practices in early intervention and later grade school practices.

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Rachel Friedman Narr (Co-Presenter), California State University, Northridge , rachel.narr@csun.edu;
Rachel Friedman Narr, Ph.D. is an Professor at California State University, Northridge in the Department of Special Education, where she prepares teachers to work in the area of Deaf Education. She maintains her Certificate in Clinical Competence from ASHA as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Rachel is the Project Coordinator for Parent Links and the Deaf Education And Families Project at the Family Focus Resource Center at CSUN. Both projects provide outreach and parent-to-parent support for families with deaf/hard of hearing children, as well as outreach and education to professionals.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.

Apryl Chauhan (Co-Presenter), self, Apryl Chauhan ;
Apryl is the mother of 3 children. Apryl’s journey has brought her full circle. When her daughter was identified with a hearing loss a Parent Links mentor was there to support her family. Apryl is involved with California Hands & Voices, has been a Parent Links Parent Mentor herself, and although her daughter is now a teenager, she continues to mentor other families.


Financial -

Nonfinancial -