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A boy, his mother, and a teacher are seated at a table. The boy is in his mother's lap. They are all looking at an iPad together. There is a picture of a cookie on the screen and the tutor is showing them the sign.

Why Sign?

Language acquisition at a very early age is critical for every child who is deaf or hard of hearing. It leads to the development of literacy skills needed throughout the child’s life.

Caretakers should introduce deaf and hard hearing children to language as early as possible. The earlier any child is exposed to and begins to acquire language, the better that child’s communication skills will become.

Eligibility

The Gallaudet University Regional Center can provide weekly Sign Language instruction, at no cost, to families who:

  • Live in Massachusetts
  • Have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing aged 0-3
  • And are currently receiving services through an Early Intervention Program.

Goals

The goal of the MA Family Sign Language Program is to introduce family members to Sign Language, enabling them to communicate with their child at the earliest age possible. Extended family members and caregivers are encouraged to participate. All of our tutors are Deaf or hard of hearing, have had a criminal background check, are specially trained in the provision of Sign Language instruction and follow a specially devised curriculum that is perfect for families.

Curriculum

The curriculum will address not only the learning of sign vocabulary, but the application of the signs to everyday family life. As part of the classes, our tutors will also share their knowledge about Deaf culture and will teach the family ways of making their family communications more visual and accessible for their child.

How It Works

This program is coordinated by the Gallaudet University Regional Center at Northern Essex Community College through a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The Family Sign Language Program will send a deaf or hard of hearing tutor into the family’s home once a week to work with the family. The goal of this program is to introduce family members to Sign Language, enabling them to communicate with their child at the earliest age possible.

Families will receive a total of 20 weeks of instruction tailored specifically to them. The first 10 weeks are provided in the family’s home; the second 10 weeks may be in the home, online, or in a group setting with other families. Classes will be scheduled at a time convenient for the family.

For more information please contact

Family Sign Language Program Coordinator

978-556-3701 voice/tty
978-556-3703 fax
978-241-7057 VP/VRS
fslp@necc.mass.edu

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