Learning to Converse: How Deaf Mothers Support the Development of Attention and Conversational Skills in Their Young Deaf Children
M. Virginia Swisher University of Pittsburgh
Kay Meadow-Orlans has been a pioneer in affirming the competence of deaf mothers ( Meadow, Greenberg, Erting, & Carmichael, 1981). She has also had a long-standing interest in the question of maternal sensitivity and has documented the problems that can occur when there is a mismatch of hearing status between parent and child ( Meadow-Orlans & Spencer, 1996; Meadow-Orlans & Steinberg, 1993). One way deaf mothers are well equipped to be sensitive to the needs of their deaf children is that they are skilled in communicating in the visual mode, in general terms, as well as fluent in a visual language, which allows them to provide accessible language input to their children from the beginning of life.
Many in the profession have looked eagerly to the gradually accumulating body of research with deaf mothers for models and information that can be used to help hearing parents of deaf children who need guidance in interacting in the visual mode. Now that a number of aspects of deaf moth-