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Language Work in the Community

Reinforce concepts, vocabulary and language goals in the community with students who are deafblind, blind or with multiple disabilities.

Taking purposeful trips to places in the community can be prove to be a motivating and meaningful way to focus on language goals.  

My son, Liam, is 7 years old and happens to be deafblind. American Sign Language (ASL) is his first language (he uses tactile ASL receptively).  Liam has many language goals at school and I have some personal ones for him at home as well. I believe that it is important to purposefully provide opportunities for our children with vision impairments to have exposure to experiences and new vocabulary paired together.  

For me, it is extremely important to give my son opportunities to grow in his understanding of his language (and the world around him!) and to be able to clearly communicate his ideas, thoughts, concerns, etc. Furthermore, the development of language also supports reading and writing skills.  

This past summer, through a state-funded communication assistance program (Communication Services for the Deaf) we were able to take Liam to many places in the community to work on language goals.  My son uses his hands to see the world around him; he learns best through touch. These outings are perfect for him as we choose places where touching the environment and conversation would be encouraged.  

identifying an appliance in the community
Identifying a faucet with Liam in the community

Examples of Liam’s language goals include: 

  • Using classifiers to describe objects and environments
  • Describing the “function” of an object, machine, or tool
  • Answering questions appropriately
  • Asking questions
  • Using descriptive words   

Examples of locations we visited this summer:

  • Menards (hardware store)
  • Downtown plaza
  • Toy store
  • Wal-Mart
  • A playground 
Exploring a stove
Exploring a stove
Exploring an appliance in the community
Signing while exploring appliances

Procedure:

  1. One of the most important things is to begin by choosing a location that would be motivating for your child. Once the location has been picked, choose a language goal you would like to focus on the trip. (Maybe it could be specific vocabulary, functions of different machines, sentence structure, descriptive words, etc.)
  2. Before you get to the location, address the language goal with your child and the purpose for the trip.
  3. Once at the location, have fun!  Explore, touch the environment and discuss!    
  4. Afterwards, discuss your outing.  Address the language goals again and review together what was learned during the outing.

Extras:

  • Have discussions about the trip and encourage conversation.
  • Create an experience book together to support conversation and reinforcement of new vocabulary.
  • Create a list of focus vocabulary written in braille before you go to the location that can be addressed throughout the excursion.
Collage of language in the community

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