Language modality during interactions between hearing parents learning ASL and their deaf/hard of hearing children
Brown, Lillian Mayhew
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Research regarding language and communication modality in deaf or hard of hearing children and their parents is limited. Previous research often considered modality as any visual, gestural, or tactile communication, rather than distinct languages of different modalities. This study examined language and communication modality in hearing parents who have made a commitment to learning American Sign Language (ASL) and who use both ASL and spoken English to communicate with their deaf or hard of hearing children. Nine hearing parents and their deaf/hard of hearing children participated in naturalistic play sessions. The play sessions were recorded and transcribed for ASL, spoken English, and communicative interactions. Analysis of results indicated a positive correlation between the amount of ASL (tokens and duration of time) used by parents and their children. No relationship was indicated between the amount of spoken English (tokens and duration of time) by parents and their children, nor the amount (frequency and percent) of bimodal utterances used by parent and their children. Furthermore, there was no relationship found between families using the same versus different dominant language modality and their sustained interactions (frequency, duration, and number of turns). Findings indicated a relationship between parent and child language in a visually accessible language, ASL, but not in spoken language. Data regarding bimodal utterances suggested that parents and children successfully kept both ASL and spoken English separate during play. Finally, analysis of communicative interactions demonstrated similarities between parent-child dyads that had the same dominant communication modality and those with different dominant modalities, suggesting the possibility of successful communication despite language modality differences. Overall, findings from this study illustrated that hearing parents can successfully learn and use languages of different modalities with their deaf/hard of hearing children.