The majority of deaf children are born or adopted into hearing, speaking families whose members do not know signed language, but these children need a visually accessible communicative and linguistic environment if they are to develop to their full potential. During infancy and their preschool years they need to progress developmentally at the same rate and achieve linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional milestones along the same timelines typically achieved by hearing children if they are to be prepared for the academic challenges in their futures. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the 21st century, most deaf children do not arrive at school ready to learn at grade level. And even for those who do-and these are typically the children of Deaf parents who are bilingual in ASL and English-most schools and teachers are not well-prepared to provide them with the kind of education that builds on their visual strengths and the bilingual foundation they have acquired at home.
"The Clerc Center, a federally funded national deaf education center, ensures that the diverse population of deaf and hard of hearing students (birth through age 21) in the nation are educated and empowered and have the linguistic competence to maximize their potential as productive and contributing members of society. This is accomplished through early access to and acquisition of language, excellence in teaching, family involvement, research, identification and implementation of best practices, collaboration, and information sharing among schools and programs across the nation."
The purpose of the Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet University on “Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2)” is to advance fundamentally the Science of Learning specifically involving how aspects of human higher cognition are realized through one of our most central senses, vision. We seek to determine the effects of visual processes, visual language, and social experience on the development of cognition, language, reading and literacy for the benefit of all humans. We especially pursue new perspectives on these learning processes through the widened vantage point of studying deaf individuals and sign language as a window into the flexibility and structure of the human mind. We study these learning processes in monolinguals and bilinguals across the lifespan in order to promote optimal practices in education in both formal and informal settings.