2023 Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Conference

March 5-7, 2023 • Cincinnati, OH


3/14/2022  |   1:15 PM - 1:45 PM   |  Using Sign-Supported Speech with Children with Down Syndrome   |  Room 5

Using Sign-Supported Speech with Children with Down Syndrome

Children with Down syndrome frequently have mild or moderate hearing loss, and typically experience substantial speech delays. They are also inclined to be good visual learners, making sign-supported speech a really excellent approach to help them on their pathway to effective communication. This presentation will explain the ways signing and spoken language can be used in combination with young children who have Down syndrome or other developmental delays. We will discuss some strategies which have proven to be useful in sign-supported speech instruction, particularly taking into account the concrete and visual learning style of most children with Down syndrome. We will look at how sign use can support early spoken language development, and the research that shows how it helps clarity of speech in older children. We will also discuss ways in which signing can be used to support instruction in elementary/middle/high school. While the focus of the presentation is on children with Down syndrome, many facets of what will be covered will also apply to children with other sorts of developmental delays, or who have speech delays for a variety of reasons.

  • Learn the rationale in signing with children with Down syndrome
  • Understand the Sign-Supported Speech approach, and how it works
  • Learn how signing can be used to support learning in older grades



CART transcripts are NOT YET available, but will be posted shortly after the conference


Karen Mueller-Harder (Virtual), VTEHDI/UVMMC Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Educational Services Program, karen@praxisworks.org;
Karen Mueller-Harder has been a sign language instructor in Vermont for the past 15 years. She works primarily with kids with developmental delays and other communication challenges. Karen was involved with the Deaf community in Rochester NY while growing up, and later trained to be an ASL interpreter at Northeastern University. After working in a regional Deaf elementary school program, she found her calling working with children who use sign-supported speech. She is also the treasurer of Vermont Hands & Voices.


Financial -
No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial -
No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.