Empowerment in Language

Hello Friends,

         Welcome back to another #TogetherThursday This week we are sharing resources on multilingual support. How can you support your family with communicating with your Deaf/Hard of Hearing child? 

What things should you take into consideration? Are two (or more?) languages ok? Verbal or signed? What does this look like when we’re talking about language in the home and through distance learning? How are things impacted when we might see grandparents?

  • Language First Lab has many amazing free resources for parents that can be found and downloaded here about the topic of a verbal vs. a signed language and what language is

There is a fantastic researcher out of Denmark with RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) who’s “primary research interest is multilingualism in DHH (Deaf or Hard of Hearing) children, particularly communication choices for children who use sign, live in multilingual environments, and/or have complex communication needs” 

  • Their name is Kate Crowe and they presented on the FACT that Deaf learners can learn multiple languages

Now that we have the theory out of the way…what does this look like in your home? How can you support learning in your household?

  • Here is a Youtube channel from the Colorado School for Deaf and Blind that feature English AND Spanish Captions
  • Here is Asian Signers Instagram who’s entire mission is to “Bring recognition to sign language users who are Asisans and share about their culture and literature”
  • Everything from Chinese American Deaf/Hard of Hearing folks to Indonesia and Sri Lanka here is the youtube playlist

Now a practical application in day to day life: How can you support your parents(your child’s grandparents) who only speak X language to communicate with your Deaf/HH child?

Welcome to the wide world of apps!

  • Android users using English: Live Transcribe, you can set your phone on the table and when one speaker is speaking at time (doesn’t do super well with groups) the mic will pick up on the conversation
  • Spread the Sign: THIS APP HAS SAVED MY LIFE NO JOKE. You can put it in ANY language, look up a word/sign and then switch it to ASL. Works fantastic in multilingual homes. 
  • The web based site is free, and YES you can type in the word in your home language and then switch it to ASL:  Link

Google Translate: It has a fantastic live transcribing/translating feature I use all the time. Person A can be speaking in X language and it will translate, in real time to English. You just have to download google translate and then click “conversation”, then it gets written. Conversely, you can speak English into it, and then it will write out what you want to say to the person speaking X language in their language: Link (website to look)

I have combined these apps to put together things for families. So for example, I have spoken a word into Google Translate from my English into Chinese, then copy pasted the character(s) into Spread the Sign and shown the video to families.

I have done Itinerant work with some older students who are “no I totally understand everything I’m fine” and quietly put my phone on Live Transcribe on their desk and supported them to advocate for captions on their videos/distance learning.

I have also, drumroll, taken things families have said to me in Arabic, for example, from from google translate in TEXTs, copy pasted, translated them into English, read what they said, typed a response in English, put it back into Arabic, and TEXTED THEM BACK.

Imagine your teenager having a texting relationship with their cousins, aunts and uncles, maybe even your parents, in your home language, especially as they are learning it from them and you by immersion and support because it is possible 🙂

As we continue on this journey together, and I do mean together, I hope you and your loved ones find togetherness during this time of learning new things and trying to figure things out. One step at a time.

Please share how you and your family communicate across generations, modalities, and languages. We’re always looking for new ideas 🙂

We can, Together,

Ms. Leslie