Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from A.W., Iowa

Is there a Preschool Development Checklist for Deaf and Hard of Hearing that I can use and apply to my students? I am looking for a standard baseline for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at preschool level. I want to know what are the expectations of skills and abilities for D/HH children should have at a certain age such as between 3 years to 5 or 6 years old.

Question from A.W., Iowa. Posted September 7, 2013.
Response from Marilyn Sass-Lehrer - Gallaudet University

I am not aware of a “standard baseline” specifically for children who are deaf or hard of hearing at the preschool level.  Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are so very different that it would be nearly impossible, to develop standards that would be meaningful or appropriate for every child.  There are many factors that influence the development and performance of these children, and therefore, it’s imperative to consider each child individually.  In general, however, the benchmarks for children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing should be the same as those for their hearing peers provided they are similar in other developmental areas.  For example, we should hold the same developmental expectations for children who have similar cognitive abilities regardless of whether they are deaf, hard of hearing or hearing.

Each state has developed Early Learning Standards to address expectations for children at the preschool level.  These standards provide a road map for development and expectations for all preschoolers.  Some preschool programs for children who are deaf and hard of hearing are also using the Creative Curriculum and their assessments as guidelines for development. See the following website for more information about this program:  https://www.teachingstrategies.com/page/ccs_overview.cfm

Children who are deaf or hard of hearing need frequent comprehensive assessments and monitoring to assure that they are making age and individually appropriate progress.  You might want to refer to the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education website for a listing of assessment tools that can provide guidance in a variety of developmental areas http://www.gallaudet.edu/clerc_center/information_and_resources/cochlear_implant_education_center/resources/suggested_scales_of_development_and_assessment_tools.html

In addition to these assessments, the Visual Language and Visual Learning Center (VL2) at Gallaudet University has some excellent documents specifically related to language and literacy including a recently released (June 2013) Research Brief on ASL milestones and family involvement written by Charlotte Enns and Liana Price.


You may find these documents helpful as you consider expectations for the children in your program.