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@2018 by the Indiana School for the Deaf

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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


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. 



Setting Language in Motion:

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


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