Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Language Access, Language Proficiency, and Cognitive Development in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
The vast majority of deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children have limited access to linguistic input during infancy and toddlerhood. In addition, they typically experience delayed or incomplete mastery of a native language, and also tend to lag behind hearing peers in several domains of cognitive development. Maximizing these children’s developmental potential requires (a) understanding how these domains are linked, and (b) translating that knowledge into effective intervention strategies. I argue that language (not hearing) is the most important target for early intervention, and that the absence of clear empirical answers about how best to maximize language proficiency in DHH populations stems from a pervasive and uncritical reliance on a faulty construct: “communication mode”. I propose an alternative construct, “language access profiles”, and present data from two new tools designed to measure this novel construct.