March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


3/15/2016  |   9:40 AM - 10:10 AM   |  Topical Session 4   |  Sunset   |  3 - Language Acquisition and Development

Why Multiculturalism and Multilingualism in Early Intervention?

Increasingly more schools are encouraging and incorporating bilingualism and multiculturalism into the curriculum and educational experience. However, the benefits of developing a second (and subsequent) languages extend to children with hearing loss and other disabilities, as well as children with normal hearing. Although this is especially crucial for children with hearing loss who are born to non-English speaking parents, not many early intervention programs focus on the development of the home language as well as American Sign Language in the first few years of life. Since parental involvement is one of the key factors to later academic success, it is important for children to learn their home language to develop a healthy parent-child relationship and attachment early on. The strong linguistic foundation in the home would then enable parents to learn English with their child upon entering the school system. This presentation will provide a discussion of the cognitive, social/emotional and language benefits of providing the child with access to more than one language in the early years of life; the importance of early access to both Deaf culture and the home culture for the child and the family; and implications for early interventionists working with families from different cultural and linguistic groups.

  • Outline and understand the language trajectory for a bilingual child in the early years of life
  • Describe the social/emotional benefits to the child with hearing loss learning the home language as well as American Sign Language
  • Understand the implications for early interventionists working with students born to a different cultural and linguistic group

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Gloshanda Lawyer (Primary Presenter,Co-Presenter), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, glawyer@vols.utk.edu;
Gloshanda Lawyer studied Linguistics, Deaf Studies and Spanish Studies at the University of Minnesota. She received her Master’s of Education in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education and Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Minnesota. Gloshanda previously worked as a preschool teacher at Metro Deaf School, a bilingual education charter school that uses American Sign Language as the language of instruction and teaches English through print. Gloshanda has also worked as an Early Childhood Special Education Birth- Three Teacher for the Saint Paul Public Schools in Minnesota where she did home-based intervention with families and children of all disability areas. She is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a concentration in Deaf Education with research interests in early childhood multicultural/multilingual approaches to early intervention. Gloshanda is a current fellow of the National Leadership Consortium on Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD).


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.

Leala Holcomb (Co-Presenter), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, lholcom5@vols.utk.edu;
Leala used to be a preschool and family education teacher working with young Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and their families. Leala created a new enterprise called Hands Land with two other colleagues focusing on developing educational resources through rhymes and rhythms. Leala is currently a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee conducting research on the benefits of rhymes and rhythms for young Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. Leala also provides professional consultations to schools inside and outside the United States.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - Has a Professional (Cooperating a project to create educational resources for young children) relationship for Volunteer employment.  

Mark Ramirez (Co-Presenter), Deaf Youth USA, ramirez.mark.a@gmail.com;
Mark Ramirez holds a Masters in Social Work. He is involved with the National Council of Hispano Deaf and Hard of hearing and Deaf Youth USA (DYUSA).


Financial -

Nonfinancial -