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Communication Options

Trying to decide whether sign language (ASL) or spoken language is right for your family? Did you know there are even more communication options, like…

Communication Options

Trying to decide whether listening and spoken language or American sign language (ASL) or is right for your family? Did you know there are even more communication options? Keep reading for a summary of commonly used communication options.

Listening and Spoken Language (LSL)

This approach to language development teaches infants and young children with hearing loss to listen and talk with the support of hearing technology such as hearing aids, assistive listening devices (such as an FM system) or cochlear implants.

Hearing technology provides auditory stimulation and sets the stage for the development of listening while spoken language therapy teaches the child how to “listen” with the device and to translate what he or she is hearing into spoken language (ie. English, Spanish, French, etc)

The earlier the infant has access to auditory stimulation, the earlier he or she can take advantage of the benefits of “hearing,” or listening, and learn to talk, thus learning spoken language.

Parents and caregivers that choose LSL receive counseling and support in their role as the child’s most important teacher of language, learning how to stimulate their child’s speech and language production. The goal with LSL is for the child to attend his local school and learn in the general classroom, like other children his or her same age.

If you are interested in Listening and Spoken Language, AG Bell is your best resource! Explore our site and reach out to our local chapters to learn more.

Cued Speech

Designed to enhance lipreading ability, cued speech combines the natural mouth movements of speech with eight hand shapes (cues) that represent different sounds of speech.

For example, the hand shapes help the child distinguish sounds that look the same on the lips, such as “p” and “b”. In addition to the eight hand shapes, there are four positions around the mouth, each of which represents several vowel sounds. Some children who use Cued Speech also enroll in programs that emphasize listening and spoken language development.

For more information, contact the National Cued Speech Association.

American Sign Language (ASL)

ASL is a manual communication language taught as a child’s primary language, with English taught as a second language. American Sign Language uses hand symbols and gestures combined with facial expressions to communicate language.

American Sign Language is recognized as a true language in its own right and does not follow the grammatical structure of English. This method is used extensively within the Deaf community, a group that views itself as having a separate culture and identity from mainstream hearing society.

For more information, contact the National Association of the Deaf or the American Society for Deaf Children.

Total Communication (TC) & Simultaneous Communication (SimCom or SC)

Total Communication is a philosophy that includes various types of sign language (i.e., ASL, Signing Exact English/S.E.E., and contact languages such as Pidgin Sign English or PSE), finger spelling, speech reading, speaking, and the use of amplification.

Also referred to as manually-coded English or MCE, SimCom is TC in which speaking and signing occur at the same time. SC can include contact language (e.g., Pidgin Sign English; PSE and Conceptually-Accurate Signed English; CASE), grammatical forms of English (i.e., Morphemic Sign or MSS; Signing Exact English, S.E.E.) and ungrammatical ASL and English (e.g., Signed English, Sign Supported Speech, Sign Supported English).

For more information see https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/jehdi/vol3/iss2/5/.

AG Bell membership for families is always free!

Family membership benefits:

  • Financial Support

    Scholarships for technology, therapy, and education

  • Professional Guidance

    Speak to a parent who's been there or search for a certified therapist.

  • State Chapters

    Connect with and get support from local families like yours!

  • Resource Library

    Get answers with access to our information library

  • Volta Voices

    A bilingual magazine with in-depth stories about growing up with hearing loss

  • Loft & Leap

    Access to unique leadership & educational programs for teens

Seeking an AG Bell professional membership?

Get listed on our searchable professional directory, find educational and research resources, scholarships and mentorship.

Professional Membership Has Its Benefits

Join today to connect with fellow members, exchange insights, get listed in our global directory, and celebrate the journey of listening & spoken language.

Professional benefits include:

  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

    Earn CEUs through the AG Bell Academy, at our yearly Symposium, or through events held throughout the year for members

  • $100 off Exam Fees

    Take your Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS®) certification exam for less!

  • Event Discounts

    Discounted registration to AG Bell’s symposium and other events, plus special discounts on travel, restaurants, retail shops and more

  • LSL Professional Directory

    Get listed and found by families that need your services and students that want your mentorship

  • LSL Leading Edge

    An exclusive e-newsletter for AG Bell professional members packed with the latest news and developments in hearing health and the listening & spoken language field

  • Volta Voices 

    AG Bell’s award-winning, quarterly digital magazine in English and Spanish

  • Access to AG Bell’s Network

    Connect with 40+ state chapters located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico

  • Professional Opportunities

    Get involved in AG Bell through committees, task forces, councils and other venues for members to interact and contribute meaningfully

  • The Volta Review 

    Stay current with the latest research through our peer-reviewed, online professional research journal

Seeking membership as a friend or family member?

Membership is always free for family & friends of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and helps connect individuals to our professional community!