Bilingual Programs for Young Deaf Children and their Families

Vicki Main1, Linda Mottershead1, Naomi Lee1

1Aurora School, Blackburn South, Victoria, Australia
The inclusion of deaf and hearing children at a very young age in a structured play environment promotes the social, emotional and language development of young deaf children. We propose that there are extra benefits when the learning environment is both bilingual and bicultural.

This poster describes our early intervention group programs for young deaf children and their families at Aurora School. The development of our model has evolved over 10 years. Our bilingual bicultural philosophy is reflected in our current practice where children are exposed to sign language and spoken language regardless of their hearing loss. By exposing a deaf child to both languages early in their development we believe we are providing the safety net for the acquisition of at least one strong language for future learning. Our programs provide further opportunities for this to occur. Children are engaged in developmentally appropriate play experiences and interact with a range of positive language models.
Parents have opportunities to talk with other parents of deaf children as well as learning from the staff ways of promoting their child’s development through play and natural interactions. The parents learn much from contact with deaf parents and deaf staff.
Current research states that bilingual education and exposure strengthens executive function of the brain.



Vicki Main, Linda Mottershead and Naomi Lee are currently employed at Aurora School and lead the Early Intervention Team. Together they hold extensive qualifications and experience spanning more than 40 years in Deaf Education, Early Childhood Education and Special Education.
Aurora School is an innovative educational organisation that provides optimal bilingual learning environments for deaf and deafblind children and their families across the state of Victoria.
Communication, language and literacy form the foundation of programs that support each child’s whole development.