Dr. Amy Szarkowski (MA LEND/UMass Boston UCEDD) leads publication in Pediatrics on Pragmatics in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Much attention is given to language development in children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). Yet the social use of language can remain challenging, even amongst DHH children who are developing solid language skills (whether through sign language, spoken language, or some combination). Difficulties with pragmatics can have significant implications for the social and emotional lives of DHH children, interactions between caregivers-children and other family members, as well as having cognitive and academic impacts as children grow.

Recognizing the importance of pragmatics for DHH children, Dr. Amy Szarkowski and her colleague, Dr. Dianne Toe, sought funding from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University to host an Accelerator Workshop, bringing together 20 scholars from around the globe to explore the topic of pragmatics with this population. That collaboration and the subsequent interest in the topic that it fostered, has resulted in the publication of a special Supplement on Pragmatics in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Pediatrics. The supplement addresses pragmatics in children who are DHH from infancy through adolescence, and includes reflections from parents and adults who are DHH. It concludes with a call to action for medical providers, allied health professionals, and researchers, to attend to pragmatic development in children who are DHH alongside development in other domains.