Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
top of page



Children with hearing loss are consistently identified as being at-risk for deficits in executive functioning (EF). EF consists of cognitive skills including working memory, cognitive flexibility, attention, planning, problem solving, and inhibitory control. Research is often divided regarding whether difficulties with EF are a result of hearing loss itself or, rather, delays in language that are often related to hearing loss (i.e. inadequate exposure to language at a young age). Hall, Eigsti, Bortfeld, and Lillo-Martin (2018) investigated whether auditory access or language access was more crucial for the development of EF skills. The study utilized 3 groups: children with normal hearing, children who were “deaf native signers who had access to American Sign Language from birth”, and “oral cochlear implant users who did not have full access to language prior to implantation” (Hall et al., 2018). Results indicated that early access to language was more crucial than access to sound for development of strong EF skills. Hall et al. (2018) concluded that the results were consistent with the hypothesis that “language proficiency, whether in sign or speech, is crucial for the development of healthy EF” (Hall et al., 2018). This contributes to the existing research supporting the importance of early access to language (whether spoken or signed) for cognitive development.


Citation: Hall, M.L., Eigsti, I.M., Bortfeld, H., & Lillo-Martin, D. (2018). Executive function in Deaf children: Auditory access and language access. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 61(8), 1970-1988.

Executive Function in Deaf Children: Auditory Access and Language Access


Setting Language in Motion:

Family Supports and Early Intervention for Babies Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Foster an understanding of the importance of early language acquisition that supports robust linguistic competence and conceptual development in children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Use of ASL to Support the Development of English and Literacy

Does American Sign Language (ASL) interfere with deaf students’ acquisition of English?


The Indiana School for the Deaf is the American SIgn Language and English bilingual educational environment where students belong, excel and thrive academically and socially. Below are resources with additional information on bilingual education. 

Dispelling Myths of Language Acquisition Webcast

Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Empirical Article, "Spoken English Language Development Among Vative Signing Children with Cochlear Impants" by Kathryn Davidson, Diane Lillo-Martin, and Deborah Chen Pichler.

Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto

Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto debunked the myths and fears associated with early bilingual language exposure.

Language Learning Through the Eye and Ear Webcast

The webcast addresses how deaf and hard of hearing babies acquire language and why one should sign with babies as early as possible.

Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet University

Advances knowledge on how human higher cognition is realized through vision.

Maximizing Language Acquisition: ASL and Spoken English

It is largely unknown what role listening will have on the path to learning language.

Visual Language and Visual Learning: VL2

The VL2 center publishes research briefs as a resource for educators and parents.

bottom of page