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Deaf Language Specialists: Delivering Language Therapy in Signed Languages

Hoskin, J., Herman, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-5732-9999 & Woll, B. (2023). Deaf Language Specialists: Delivering Language Therapy in Signed Languages. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 28(1), pp. 40-52. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enac029


Deaf professionals, whom we term Deaf Language Specialists (DLS), are frequently employed to work with children and young people who have difficulties learning sign language, but there are few accounts of this work in the literature. Through questionnaires and focus groups, 23 DLSs described their work in this area. Deductive thematic analysis was used to identify how this compared to the work of professionals (typically Speech and Language Therapists/Pathologists, SLPs) working with hearing children with difficulties learning spoken language. Inductive thematic analysis resulted in the identification of two additional themes: while many practices by DLSs are similar to those of SLPs working with hearing children, a lack of training, information and resources hampers their work; additionally, the cultural context of language and deafness makes this a complex and demanding area of work. These findings add to the limited literature on providing language interventions in the signed modality (Marshall & Morgan, 2015) with clinical implications for meeting the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing children who do not achieve expectations of learning a first language in their early years. The use of these initial results in two further study phases to co-deliver interventions and co-produce training for DLSs is briefly described.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Deaf culture, sign language, communication, language development, qualitative methods, DHH children
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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