Current Projects

Our aims are brought to life through projects initiated at The Institute as well as those in collaboration with other individuals, organizations, and universities. For additional access, please contact the authors or visit ResearchGate.

At The Institute, the term deaf is inclusively to refer to audiologic hearing status (deaf or hard of hearing), and/or cultural affiliation (Deaf).

  • Publications


  • Workshop


  • Presentation


  • Interview


  • Advisory Board/Membership

    Advisory Board/ Membership

Pragmatics in Deaf Children

Pragmatics, or social communication, is vital to relating well with others. Even when deaf children have strong language skills, gaps can exist in conversational ability and comprehension of social demands. This project seeks to further understand and advocate for attention to pragmatic development and its relationship to cognitive and academic outcomes.

Pragmatics in Deaf Children

Scholarships and Activities

Pragmatics Development in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. Society for Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics online conference. (Szarkowski & Wiley, October 2021).

Pragmatic strengths & vulnerabilities among deaf children. Listen & Chat Colorado (Szarkowski, May 2021)

Pragmatics in young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Virtual Conference (Szarkowski, Mood, Wiley, & Meinzen-Derr, March 2021)

Understanding and Supporting Families of Deaf Children

Deaf children and their parents, caregivers, and families together embark on a journey that can be simultaneously joyful, unexpected, challenging, and enriching. This project, enhanced by global collaborations, aims to support families by exploring the impact of programs and practices.

Understanding and Supporting Families of Deaf Children

Scholarships and Activities

FCEI Consensus Statement Update. Family-Centered Early Intervention (FCEI) International. (Moeller, Gale, Birdsey, Szarkowski, Moodie, & Smith, October 2021).

Think joy is just a feeling… Think again: The science behind fostering joy. Hands & Voices Leadership Conference [Franklin, TN] (Szarkowski, September 2021)

Family strengths: You DO have them, let’s consider how best to use them (For parents of 7–12 year old children). Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (Szarkowski, May 2021)

Family strengths: You DO have them, let’s consider how best to use them (For parents of 0–6 year old children). Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (Szarkowski, April 2021)

What do we know about the fathers? Research in the field of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Virtual Conference (Szarkowski & Dirks, March 2021)

Promoting the social and emotional functioning of children who are DHH plus: A panel of parents and professionals. Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Virtual Conference (Szarkowski, Lindow-Davies, Herrera, John, & Gonzales, March 2021)

Application of Strategies for Fostering JOY: Suggestions for Professionals and Families. Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Virtual Conference (Szarkowski & Jones for the DHH Fostering Joy Core Team, March 2021)

Differences in parental self-efficacy and parental involvement between fathers and mothers: Implications for early intervention. International Conference on Teaching Deaf Learners, Haarlem, The Netherlands (Szarkowski & Dirks, 2019)

Language Use and Generativity in Complex Communicators

One goal of communication is to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences spontaneously and flexibly. However, some individuals – including those who use augmentative and alternative communication – experience barriers. This project seeks to better understand communication needs and identify best fit interventions.

Language Use and Generativity in Complex Communicators

Scholarships and Activities

Empowering expression in children with complex communication needs: A framework of differentiated supports. CCCBSD Professional Development (Adrienne Koenig & Dana Peterson, May 2021)

Unlocking the language in the script: Empowering communication through echolalia. Adrienne Koenig & Dana Peterson, Foundation for Children with Special Needs (March 2021) and CCCBSD Professional Development (May 2021)

Deep Dive Workshop on Language Development in AAC Users (CCCBSD Professional Development, Spring 2020)

Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction

Unique learners have unique learning needs. Professionals often must engage in extensive and time-consuming modification to provide appropriate materials. This project explores how assessment, curriculum, and instructional practices can be designed to be maximally effective, accessible, and useful.

Utilizing a Trauma-Sensitive Lens

Trauma, in many forms, can have a lasting impact on development and well-being. Students with developmental and communication challenges can be uniquely affected by trauma. This project explores how the use of a trauma-sensitive lens in the special education context can impact our interactions, practices, and programs.

Utilizing a Trauma-Sensitive Lens

Scholarships and Activities

The CARE-squared approach to rapid stabilization and triage for pediatric crisis management. Oregon Health Sciences University, Department of Behavioral Pediatrics (Randall Phelps & Amy Szarkowski, May 2021)

Challenging the “2020 sucks” framework: Exploring a post-traumatic growth lens for schools for the Deaf. Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, “Meeting Challenges Moving Ahead” Series (Szarkowski & Brandt, January 2021)

CARE-squared: Rapid stabilization and triage for complicated cases. Association of University Centers on Disability Conference. (Fogler & Szarkowski, December 2020)

Deep Dive on Trauma-Sensitive Schools (CCCBSD Professional Development, Spring 2020)

Disability Advocacy

At The Institute, the goal of disability advocacy is to amplify the perspective and voice of individuals with disabilities. We do this through collaborations with disability self-advocates, opportunities for parents, caregivers and families, and participation in legislative and scholarly activities.

Disability Advocacy

Scholarships and Activities

Advancing equity through meaningful inclusion revisited. Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Annual Conference. DEC Inclusion, equity, and social justice invited session. (September 2021). Presenters: Sadia Batool, Ruby Batz, Sheresa Blanchard, Mariana Mereoiu, Jen Newton, LaShorage Shaffer, Amy Szarkowski, Anna Winneker

Autism Acceptance and Neurodiversity: A Conversation with Jordan Lome. (CCCBSD Professional Development, May 2021)

Disability Advocacy: A Conversation with Adriana Mallozzi. (CCCBSD Professional Development, April 2021)

Disability Advocacy: A Conversation with Gyasi Burks-Abbott. (CCCBSD Professional Development, February 2020)

Kupenda for the Children. International disability guidebook (Brandt, Contributor, 2019)

Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Professional Development

Just as students with developmental or communication challenges have unique needs, so too do the professionals that serve them. This project explores how professional development and learning is designed, implemented, and evaluated – and how it can improve teacher practices and student outcomes.