The Institute’s SPOTLIGHT features an area of scholarship we wish to highlight. Our SPOTLIGHT may be an extension of efforts stemming from a current project, or may draw attention to work taking place outside of those projects.

Pragmatics and Deaf Children

Dr. Amy Szarkowski of The Institute and Dr. Dianne Toe of Deakin University in Australia held a workshop sponsored by the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Attended by a team of international scholars, the workshop highlighted the need to attend to pragmatics – the social use of language – in deaf children.

The workshop led to collaborative writing projects, culminating in the publication of the Pragmatics in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children supplement in the journal Pediatrics in November 2020. The supplement introduces pragmatics, describes the lived experiences of pragmatics by Deaf adults and parents of children who are DHH, and presents new studies on pragmatics among DHH infants, children, and adolescents. The supplement concludes with a call to action, urging medical and health professionals as well as researchers to monitor, track and attend to DHH children’s pragmatic development. It was edited by Amy Szarkowski, PhD, Dianne Toe, PhD, Susan Wiley, MD, and Jareen Meinzen-Derr, PhD.

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