Videotaped samples of interaction were collected from seven deaf mothers and deaf children, 14 hearing mothers and deaf children using oral-only communication, 14 hearing mothers and deaf children using simultaneous (oral + sign language) communication, and 14 hearing mothers and hearing children. Transcripts were coded for dyadic interaction and for functional communication.
Deaf children and hearing mothers using oral-only communication spent significantly less time engaged in interaction than did mothers and children in the other three groups. These dyads also had the least numbers of child-initiated bouts and the highest proportion of nonelaborated bouts. Deaf mothers and deaf children were similar to hearing mothers and hearing children; hearing mothers and deaf children using simultaneous communication were intermediate in interactional complexity. The major finding is that which affirms the similarities between the deaf-mother/deaf-child pairs and the hearing-mother/hearing-child pairs. The children in these two groups share an ability to carry on conversations about themselves, their mothers, and nonpresent objects and events.