Language Instruction Services for Children

DDHH Language Instruction Program: 

DDHH provides language acquisition and development services for deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind children ages 0 – 5 as well as supports and resources to their families. Deaf adults fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) teach children and families ASL, and provide supports in their journey for full language development. Parents and families are engaged in the process to enhance the child’s learning experience. 

You may also download our Language Instruction Booklet (English) (Spanish) to give to families in need of information.

To fill out an application: English/Espanol

Program Origin

In New Jersey, language instruction for deaf children began as a small pilot in Ocean County with a teacher, a deaf individual, a parent, and two deaf toddlers coming together.  

The first was not a candidate for auditory amplification instruments and the second had just received bilateral cochlear implants (CI). Bilingualism in English and American Sign Language (ASL) was the goal for the toddlers and their families—and NJ Early Intervention teacher of the Deaf Amy Andersen was there to help.

Through NJ Early Intervention, Amy provided key services twice a week for the toddlers and their families. They learned how to incorporate ASL into daily interactions with their children. However, this was not possible while the toddlers attended daycare. This was especially difficult for the first toddler who could not access any auditory input and therefore his environment lacked  language development. This pushed Amy to make a change.  

The first toddler’s mother, Stephanie Renart, and Amy advocated for a Deaf Language Acquisition Associate to be placed in his daycare classroom as a result the very first language instruction program for a deaf child was born.

A Deaf community member, Carrie Pogue, agreed to become the first Deaf Language Acquisition Associate. She began working with the first toddler. A second language associate who also used CIs was placed with the second toddler. After three months of working with the toddlers, the benefits were so impactful that service hours increased from 15 to 25 hours per week. The toddlers entered kindergarten thriving in bilingualism with a firm foundation in English and ASL. Amy was inspired to make this impact possible throughout the state.

Amy - who became the 2018 NJ Teacher of the Year - along with her Deaf colleagues submitted a program proposal to the state Legislature to create the Language Instruction Program, which was key in developing a first of its kind state-funded Language Instruction program – making New Jersey the only state in the country to offer this support as a public benefit. The Murphy Administration has made investments to develop, implement and grow this program for the last 4 years within the Department of Human Services’ Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Carrie Pogue is serving as the   Program Coordinator under the supervision of Elizabeth Hill, Director of the New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. With this program, families throughout New Jersey are entitled to this free service, making it possible for their deaf children to achieve bilingualism, be kindergarten-ready and avoid the potential consequences of language deprivation. 

It is important for deaf or hard of hearing children to have access to early language exposure during the most critical years of brain development – birth to age 3 – to avoid irreversible delays in learning.

DDHH works with pediatricians, early invention specialists, pediatric audiologists, child care providers, and others in providing children, between the ages of 0 - 5 years old, with the tools needed for full language acquisition and development.

If you are an early intervention specialist, please download our Early Intervention Referral Packet (English) (Spanish) to provide key information to families and children who are in need of early support services and help them reach their full potential.

If your client or patient has a hearing loss and needs additional support, please reach out to us at or call us at 609-588-2648. You may also download our Language Instruction Booklet (English) (Spanish) to give to families in need of information.

In addition to our language instruction services, DDHH has a number of other programs and services to benefit children and families. Please see here

  • Families are matched with an ASL Deaf Language Associate to work with your family for up to 25 hours a week.
  • ASL Deaf Language Associates are screened and work through the local Child Care Resource and Referral Center. 
  • Language instruction services are available in childcare centers, pre-school programs, summer camps, in home settings, or other settings as applicable.

You may be eligible for The Language Instruction Program if you provide the following:

  • Proof of hearing loss such as a copy of the child’s audiogram.
  • Proof of the child’s age as being between the ages of 0 - 5 years old. 
  • Proof of New Jersey residency.