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MedEd Connections Resource Guide: Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH)

Why Is Language So Important for My Child Who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing?

Language is a complex system of symbols, vocabulary, structure, and grammar. Early language develops naturally in the brain between birth and age five, after which, this language learning window begins to close. Language learning becomes an uphill effort the more time passes, and as such, communicating with others becomes more challenging as this language learning window closes. Therefore, it is really important for children who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) to be frequently and consistently exposed to a rich and stimulating language environment as early as possible. When the chosen language is accessible, children who are D/HH can acquire language without delays and develop a strong language foundation. Children will show their strong language foundation through the use of their preferred communication mode, whether it be visually through sign language, listening to spoken English, or both. In summary, children who are D/HH have unique challenges accessing incidental learning through hearing alone. When the language is accessible, regardless of hearing status, then learning how to communicate can occur.