Maximizing Language Acquisition: ASL and Spoken English

This webcast provides an evidence-based rationale for supporting language acquisition in both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Experienced professionals in deaf education discuss the important ingredients essential to learning language as well as common misconceptions that tend to drive language and communication practices. Designed for professionals involved in early intervention, this webcast highlights how evidence points to use of an ASL and spoken English bilingual approach (sometimes referred to as a bimodal bilingual approach) as beneficial for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Accompanying the webcast is a comprehensive reference list to support the information shared.

Download The Thematic Reference (PDF)

Presenter bios

Laurene E. Simms

Simms is a professor in the Department of Education at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. After graduating from the Indiana School for the Deaf, she received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and later earned her master's degree in deaf education from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in Westminster. She received her doctorate in language, reading, and culture from the University of Arizona, Tucson. Simms has hands-on experience in the implementation of bilingual strategies in multicultural educational environments for diverse deaf and hard of hearing children, and she is a nationally recognized expert on the topic of using both ASL and English as languages of instruction.

Susanne Scott

Scott is an ASL and English bilingual education consultant. She recently retired from the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a cochlear implant/bilingual specialist. She earned her master’s degree in audiology from Gallaudet University in 1980 and then worked in various positions at Gallaudet and the Clerc Center until retirement. During her tenure at the Clerc Center, Scott was actively involved in ASL and English bilingual planning and program implementation for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (including children with cochlear implants) both at the Clerc Center and throughout the nation. She has presented at numerous conferences, provided consultations and training to professionals, and authored several articles and books.

Bobbie Jo Kite

Originally from Pennsylvania, Kite received her bachelor's degree in early childhood education in 2004 and her master's degree in deaf education in 2005 from Gallaudet University. She taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School for five years, and she taught kindergarten and first grade at the New Mexico School for the Deaf for one year. Kite is currently a faculty member in the Department of Education at Gallaudet University and is working on earning her doctorate from George Mason University specializing in early childhood education and multilingual/multicultural education. In addition, Kite provides training and consulting services to ASL and English bimodal bilingual programs nationwide.

Heidi Burns

Burns is the coordinator of differentiation and inclusion at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She earned her master's degree in bilingual/multicultural education and curriculum design for the deaf from the University of California, San Diego before beginning her career as an elementary classroom teacher. After seven years at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work as the coordinator of professional development for the Center for ASL/English Bilingual Education and Research (CAEBER) at Gallaudet University. She returned to elementary education in 2011, working at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School. During her time in the classroom she became interested in the educational applications of current findings in neuroscience. Earning a master's certificate in mind, the brain and teaching from the Johns Hopkins School of Education led Burns to her current position, where she provides instructional and learning support for K-12 teachers and students. She continues to provide training and consultation to educators and professionals serving deaf and hard of hearing students around the country on the topic of ASL and English bimodal bilingual educational strategies.

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