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Gallaudet Univeristy
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Early Beginnings for Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Guidelines for Effective Services

By Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, PhD

Section 3: What to Look for in an Early Intervention Program

Full paper in PDF format (19 pages)

The following descriptions of effective early intervention programs and services may be helpful to families seeking early intervention services, service providers who want to improve their early intervention programs, or others concerned about the quality of programs and services.

Effective early intervention programs and services:
  • are family-centered, building on the family's strengths and resources to enhance the child's development and learning;
  • support the family's connections with their culture/community and access to resources that promote the family and child's well-being;
  • provide information to families about specialized services and supports available for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families;
  • develop collaborative relationships with families that promote the family's confidence and competence to make informed decisions regarding their child's and family's future;
  • provide programs and services that support the emotional needs of families and facilitate their adaptation and understanding of their child's strengths and needs;
  • provide information to families about the importance of early communication and language acquisition;
  • facilitate families' understanding of the full range of communication modalities and language opportunities;
  • facilitate parent/caregiver and child interactions and communication utilizing visual and/or auditory/verbal strategies that provide full access to communication;
  • ensure families and young children have good language and cultural role models who are deaf or hard of hearing to support the family and child's communication and social-emotional development;
  • utilize an interdisciplinary approach to provision of services to families and children that provides comprehensive and high quality services by specialists who are well-prepared to meet the priorities and concerns of families with young deaf or hard of hearing children;
  • promote family adaptation by connecting families with other parents as well as adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing;
  • collaborate with families to determine how visual and auditory communication technologies can enhance accessibility to communication and language for their child;
  • assist families in learning about their child's unique talents and abilities and support interactions and communication approaches that enhance their child's development;
  • provide opportunities for families to participate in the design and evaluation of programs, policies, and services that support family involvement in all aspects of the early intervention system;
  • establish collaborative relationships with medical, health care, and hearing care professionals, early intervention state and local systems, community agencies, and specialized agencies and programs of and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals;
  • provide individualized approaches to assessment and intervention that support the child's and family's strengths and resources;
  • utilize research-based best practices for promoting the overall development of young deaf and hard of hearing children and supporting the priorities and concerns of families;
  • demonstrate effectiveness by evaluating the progress made by young children, adapting and revising services as needed, and assessing the satisfaction of services provided to families; and
  • establish high expectations for families and other professionals for the possibilities and potential of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing.