This longitudinal case study examined the language and literacy acquisition of a Deaf child as mediated by her signing Deaf parents during her first three years of life. Results indicate that the parents’ interactions with their child were guided by linguistic and cultural knowledge that produced an intuitive use of child-directed signing (CDSi) in American Sign Language (ASL) and that the child developed in ways similar to her hearing, speaking counterparts. Parental attention to eye gaze and eye contact, especially prior to the advent of the first sign, are described, as are the ways they mediated their child’s transference of knowledge about their visual language, ASL, to printed English. These findings demonstrate that when deaf children are immersed in a visually accessible natural language environment from birth, they can participate in the kinds of mediated interaction that provide the linguistic resources and the cognitive mapping necessary for increasingly complex development. Implications for the development of deaf children are addressed in light of continuing reports of underachievement in this population, whose members are typically deprived of the linguistic and cognitive resources afforded by early immersion in a natural signed language.


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pp. 417-456
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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