Because learning starts with literacy, “Language for All” is TSDF’s rallying cry!
Every year, approximately 1,200 deaf or hard-of-hearing children are born in Texas. Without language, these children cannot attain age-appropriate reading skills, which makes learning difficult, if not impossible. However, research shows that when hearing loss is identified early and infants and toddlers have opportunities for language access during the critical developmental years, they demonstrate cognitive, social, and communication skills equal to their hearing peers.
TSDF believes that everyone has the fundamental right to language, and we are committed to making that right a reality for the children in Texas who are either deaf or hard of hearing. Through our funding, we help to provide educational resources specifically designed to give children who are deaf or hard of hearing the strategies they need to access language, while also encouraging whatever mode(s) of communication work best for each and every individual child, whether s/he communicates best via ASL, lip reading, spoken language, or simultaneous communication (using spoken and signed language together) and/or benefits from assistive devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc.
With “Language for All” our number one priority, TSDF supports the following:
- Early Intervention Language Programs (children 0–3) that introduce deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers to language concepts, such as:
- multi-sensory language stimulation
- Specialized Literacy Instruction (older children) that incorporates learning opportunities specifically designed to enhance understanding and comprehension, such as:
- Visual support (finger spelling, mouth movements, images and picture communication symbols)
- Reading exercises personalized to match each student’s unique reading abilities, while also meeting appropriate grade-level objectives (TEKS)
- Small reading groups, providing more individual attention for each student
- Phonics and phonemic awareness activities taught by speech therapists
- Bi-lingual (ASL/English) fluency and word-study instruction designed to help students understand the relationship between both languages
- Literary-rich Environments (all ages)
- Classrooms contain a wide range of books, paper, pencils, pens, iPads and other interactive learning tools that encourage daily reading, writing, conversing, storytelling and dramatic play to help students understand how language works, the importance of communication and how the two work together and make it possible to learn about and engage with the world.
- Teachers incorporate reading and writing into the teaching of all subject matter, while modeling correct signing, speaking and writing.
- Teachers reference concrete examples of the many ways reading is used in day-to-day life, such as street signs, grocery labels, advertisements, newspaper, the internet, etc.