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Dr. Petitto – National Science Foundation Event

Dr. Petitto – National Science Foundation Event


From this, we can foster hearing children’s visual attention and visual learning but also we can create policy that makes visual language available to the deaf visual learner early in life. This is a biological imperative because visual processing and growth is on a maturational timetable. We also found that early bilingual exposures are absolutely optimal. It provides language and reading advantages in each of the child’s languages and also higher cognitive advantages. Again, with the policy implications, we can foster early bilingual education for all children in the nation and create policy that makes available visual language earlier. But one of the most extraordinary persistent findings to rise up in the labs is that the human brain will create an abstract level
of phonology be it phonology on the hands or the tongue. You give the brain the hands, it maps it onto the hands. You give the brain the tongue, it maps abstract phonological level on the tongue. And so what have we found, that hearing children need early experience with spoken language for the establishment of the phonological base on which they will then build a healthy reading acquisition. Similarly, deaf children need early experience with visual language for the establishment of a phonological base on which to launch healthy reading skills. Yes, this is true even with cochlear implantation because with cochlear implants and visual language exposure, these children gained quite stunning bilingual, cognitive, and linguistic advantages. So policy implication: foster the creation of innovation, augmentative learning tools to translation, for example, bilingual reading apps, socially assisted robots and avatars, et cetera, to build, children with minimal language input, to strengthen their language, but also to create policy that makes visual language available to deaf children early. You’re seeing a theme here.

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