February 26-28, 2017 • Atlanta, GA


2/28/2017  |   3:00 PM - 3:30 PM   |  Understanding the Impact of Early Language Development on Achieving School-Readiness and Social/Emotional Well Being   |  Grand Hall A

Understanding the Impact of Early Language Development on Achieving School-Readiness and Social/Emotional Well Being

Eighty percent of children born with a significant hearing loss are fitted with cochlear devices. Sign language is an alternative to a speech-exclusive approach. Unfortunately, when families are presented with different approaches, they feel as if they have to choose one and reject the other. The success rate of CIs is not guaranteed. If and when they are found to be unsuccessful, the critical period for language acquisition is over. Quite often, by the time a deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) child with CIs enters a state-funded educational program at the age three, the child is found to be “language-delayed” and will not be on the same language proficiency level as his/her peers for the remainder of his/her school years (K-12). This language delay significantly impacts the student’s cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as the ability to read and write fluently which results in a large number of DHH students unable to meet the requirements to earn a high school diploma. There are research-based alternate early intervention strategies and methods designed to afford DHH babies exposure to accessible language on a regular basis as compared to their non-DHH peers. To determine the reasons why these methods are rarely implemented and the barriers that hinder these methods from becoming more widespread, more research and awareness is needed. This presentation will present findings from a focus group and case studies that center on various DHH babies, the early intervention methods used to expose them to accessible language, and the end results. Also, other resolutions and ideas that have the potential to complement and enhance current early intervention services by encouraging parents, members of the Deaf community, the medical field and related professions, and educators to be involved as a team in the language acquisition process for DHH babies will be presented.

  • Research-based alternate early intervention methods for language acquisition in babies identified with hearing loss will be presented.
  • Findings from case studies and focus groups regarding implemented of these methods will be presented
  • The need for further research and awareness will be outlined


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Gina Catalano (), McAfee School of Theology, Gina.Luisa.Catalano@live.mercer.edu;
My name is Gina Catalano and I am a native of the Gulf Coast, first in Florida, then in Mississippi. I graduated with a BS in Special Education from the University of Southern Mississippi with minors in Child Development and Psychology. I am also Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GPSC) certified teacher in Special Education and Elementary Education. I began teaching in 2001, working in the field of Early Intervention and Special/Deaf Education. Since then, I have worked with various age groups from birth to high school in MS, TN, and GA. I also have a wide range of experience with students in various special education settings from inclusion to resource/pull-out to self-contained, teaching various special needs such as deaf/hard-of-hearing, developmental delays, and the autism spectrum. Having learned Sign Language in middle and high school with the help of three Deaf friends, I continued to take American Sign Language classes in college and stay connected with the Deaf Community. A few years ago, I decided to change my career focus to sign language interpreting and in May 2012, I graduated from the Sign Language Interpreting Program at Georgia Perimeter College. I proceeded to work as an educational sign language interpreter for the next four years. My passion lies with being a part of the Deaf Community and in the area of Community Development. In the spring of 2016, I made the decision to return to school and pursue a Master’s of Divinity with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Community Development.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.