2013. Vol.4, No.12, 1030-1038
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access
The Beliefs and Attitudes about Deaf Education (BADE)
Scale: A Tool for Assessing the Dispositions of Parents
and Educators*
M. Diane Clark1#, Sharon Baker2, Song Hoa Choi1, Thomas E. Allen1
1Gallaudet University, Washington DC, USA
2Mary K. Chapman Center, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, USA
Received September 12th, 2013; revised October 8th, 2103; accepted November 6th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 M. Diane Clark et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights ©
2013 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual property M. Diane Clark et al. All Copyright ©
2013 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
This paper reports on the development of the Beliefs and Attitudes about Deaf Education (BADE) scale
and presents psychometric information derived from the administration of the scale to a national sample
of parents, teachers, and program administrators during Wave 1 data collection of the Early Educational
Longitudinal Study (EELS). Initially the scale had 47 items; however, 26 items were eliminated during
analysis because they were found to be either redundant or not contributing to the most significant under-
lying latent attitudinal factors. We examined the content of the items loading highly on the factors in this
final analysis to determine appropriate subscale labels for the factors. These are as follows: 1) Literacy
through Hearing Technologies and/or Visual Support for Speech Comprehension; 2) Visual Language and
Bilingualism; 3) Listening and Spoken Language; and 4) Difficulties Associated with Hearing Parents
Learning ASL. The BADE scale will be helpful to families with deaf children and the professionals
working with them as they explore the different communication options and their own personal beliefs
and attitudes toward deaf education.
Keywords: Deaf; Educational Attitudes; American Sign Language; Educational Choice; Literacy
Decisions about how best to educate a deaf child are inextri-
cably tied to the beliefs that decision-makers (parents and
teachers primarily) hold about language, culture, innate capaci-
ties, pedagogy, normalcy, and diversity. Throughout history,
fundamental questions about the nature of humankind and the
nature of human knowledge (and the important role of language
in the generation of knowledge) have led philosophers to di-
verge greatly in their understandings of many domains within
the realm of human experience, including ethics, religion, epis-
temology, politics, the nature of reality, the role of the individ-
ual in society, and so forth. In turn, these have given rise to the
emergence of a broad set of diverse approaches to education.
Two philosophies, unique to deaf education, have existed
regarding the education of deaf peoples for many centuries and
can be traced back to early philosophers such as Aristotle, who
wrote that one could not have intelligence without speech. In-
deed, without speech, you were considered a barbarian and
could not speak to God. Plato believed that language was the
pathway to truth, but believed that Greek was the only true
language that would lead you to true knowledge. An opposing
philosophy, not articulated until the Italian Renaissance in the
15th and 16th centuries in the writings of Rodolphus Agricola
and Gerolamo Cardano, argued that deaf individuals could be
taught to read and write (and thus acquire knowledge). This
broader view was later expanded in the philosophical views of
French philosophers of the 18th century, such as Rosseau, on
the role of education and the nature of an individual’s relation-
ship to society. Rosseau warned of the potential damaging ef-
fects of imposing societal norms on Man’s innate goodness
(Doyle & Smith, 2007).
The cultural perspective espoused by the 18th century French
philosophers supports the use of natural sign languages (Ladd,
2002) and a Deaf epistemology (Hauser, O’Hearn, McKee, &
Steider, 2010; Holcomb, 2010). This philosophy sees deaf indi-
viduals as visual learners who bring knowledge to bear about
the most effective practices for deaf education, tending to focus
on ASL/English Bilingual educational curricula (Nover, An-
drews, Baker, Everhart, & Bradford, 2002; Simms & Thumann,
2007), historically rooted in the manual philosophy which dates
back to the 1700s in France.
Over the years, the power and influence of the two opposing
philosophies, oralism and manualism, have been compared to a
pendulum with the two philosophies on either side of the pivot
and signed systems or total communication existing at the point
*Copies of the BADE Scale and its scoring manual can be downloaded at and Products/ASL Assessment Toolkit.
#Corresponding author.
of equilibrium. The higher the pendulum arcs and the stronger
the force behind it, the more radical the beliefs and the more
pronounced the eventual downswing to the opposing philoso-
phy, spurring advocates on both sides to defend their beliefs
and challenge opposing sides. Even when deaf education was in
its infancy, there were controversies among the most prominent
leaders who were steadfast in their advocacy for their particular
system of beliefs. For example, in the 17th century Samuel
Heinicke, a German teacher of the deaf and promoter of the oral
method and the Abbe de l’Epée, a French teacher of the deaf
and promoter of the manual method advocated for diametrically
opposing methods. Although the controversy regarding the best
communication method to teach language to deaf students be-
gan much earlier, the disagreements between these two promi-
nent figures escalated the controversy. It began through a series
of letters, each man trying to convince the other of the fallacy
of his approach and reached a pinnacle in 1783, when the
Academy of Zurich was asked to hold an impartial tribunal to
review the two opposing philosophies and to determine which
was superior (Easterbrooks & Baker, 2002). The Academy,
however, did not hear from both sides, as Heinicke was not
willing to divulge the details of his approach (Marvelli, 1973).
The Academy’s decision was based on the evidence presented;
the judgment was made that neither method was natural, but the
manual method was considered better (Scouten, Warren, Burns,
Ray, Basile, Avery, & Menkis, 1984).
The controversy continued a century later in the United
States between two hearing sons of deaf mothers: Alexander
Graham Bell, a wealthy and politically powerful ally of the oral
method and Edward Miner Gallaudet who supported the use of
manual signs. Both men feuded over the two philosophies
through published papers and public lectures. Bell felt passion-
ately that the system of education of the deaf was severely
flawed and stated that manual signs perpetuated isolation of
deaf people from hearing society. Moreover, Bell believed that
deaf schools encouraged intermarriage among deaf people,
which potentially could lead to a “deaf race”. To improve the
educational system in the United States, Bell made three rec-
ommendations: eliminate educational segregation in institutions,
eliminate the use of sign language, and eliminate deaf teachers.
On the surface Bell and Gallaudet appeared to be as diamet-
rically opposed as did del’Epée and Heinicke; however, while
neither de l’Epée nor Heinicke would falter from his beliefs,
Gallaudet began to explore a middle ground approach. Eventu-
ally he agreed that the oral method might be useful for some
students (Easterbrooks & Baker, 2002). The approach Gallau-
det conceptualized used ASL as the language of instruction,
emphasized English through reading and writing, and provided
speech lessons to those who could benefit. He called his ap-
proach the Combined Method. Among his contemporaries, his
approach was controversial, as they perceived the addition of
speech to the curriculum as a threat. In 1886, Gallaudet con-
vened a conference, focusing on developing a unifying com-
munication philosophy that maintained manual signs, but added
articulation and lipreading to the curriculum. He persuaded
those in attendance to adopt a resolution calling for all schools
for the deaf to embrace a balanced, combined approach—a
forerunner of today’s ASL/English bilingual philosophy. Al-
though Gallaudet’s advocacy for a combined approach gained
momentum at the 1886 conference, by 1888 his efforts were
thwarted by the International Congress on Education of the
Deaf (ICED) held in Milan, Italy (Lane, 1989). The Congress
passed a resolution claiming the superiority of the oral method
in the education of the deaf. The resolution remained on the
record for 122 years until the 2010 ICED conference in Van-
couver, BC during which a vote occurred to rescind it.
Deaf education today remains a polarized field. The legacy
of controversy continues and despite efforts to blend commu-
nication techniques in various combinations, the issues that
were debated in the 18th and 19th centuries, continue today. The
controversy impacts educational outcomes for deaf students,
who on average perform well below their hearing, same-age
peers (Allen, 1986; Conrad, 1979; Marschark & Harris, 1996;
Musselman, 2000). Some suggest that a cultural model with its
emphasis on visual language will improve educational out-
comes for deaf children (Holcomb, 2010; Simms & Thumann,
2007), and there is evidence to show that deaf individuals with
early ASL backgrounds tend to be academically successful
(Allen & Morere, 2012; Freel, Clark, Anderson, Gilbert,
Musyoka, & Hauser, 2011; Morford, Wilkinson, Villwock,
Piñar, & Kroll, 2011; Padden, 1980). The decision of which
educational philosophy to follow has potentially long-lasting
positive or negative outcomes for deaf children.
So what are the attitudes of parents, teachers, and school ad-
ministrators regarding these two philosophies, and what impact
do these beliefs have on the educational choices made (and the
successes or failures experienced) for deaf children? Up to now,
research has not systematically investigated the attitudes of
parents, teachers, and school administrators about their educa-
tional beliefs and attitudes. The lack of a reliable, valid measure
of these beliefs is an impediment for studying their nature and
prevalence, as well as their impact on education. As part of its
Early Education Longitudinal Study (EELS), the NSF-funded
Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual
Learning (VL2), undertook the design of a tool to remedy this
lack. The result of this effort was the development of the Beliefs
and Attitudes about Deaf Education (BADE) scale. This paper
reports on the development of the BADE scale and presents
psychometric information derived from the administration of
the scale to a national sample of parents, teachers, and program
administrators during Wave 1 of data collection of EELS.
Scale Development
To develop the BADE scale, the researchers developed 47
items reflecting the range of views about Deaf education based
on long standing issues found in deaf education and reflected in
the introduction. These issues focus on communication choices,
the language of instruction, and the use of technology. Addi-
tionally, there are the two views or models of deaf individuals
also discussed in the introduction. In summary, the first model
is that deaf people represent a linguistic minority and reflect a
visual culture, which is referred to as a cultural model of deaf
people while the model adopted by most hearing people, who
do not interact with deaf people, is the medical model, where
deaf people are viewed as needing to be fixed. Items were de-
veloped to reflect these various issues. A concerted attempt was
made to maintain neutrality with respect to opposing philoso-
phies and to include roughly equal numbers of statements rep-
resenting different points of view. A 5-point Likert scale repre-
senting levels of agreement (1 = Strongly Disagree to 5 =
Strongly Agree) was attached to each scale item. The respon-
dents’ task was to indicate their level of agreement with each
Open Access 1031
statement using the 5-point scale.
The statements covered a range of topics, including:
Communication choices, such as ASL (e.g., Deaf and hard
of hearing children can learn ASL), Cued Speech (e.g.,
Deaf and hard of hearing children can learn English if it is
made accessible through a combination of residual hearing,
speechreading, and Cued Speech as infants), spoken lan-
guage (e.g., Because sign language hinders the develop-
ment of listening and talking, young deaf or heard of hear-
ing children should be allowed to develop spoken language
initially without the influence of signs), and signed systems
(e.g., Talking and signing at the same time provides chil-
dren access to both a visual and an auditory language);
Technology (e.g., New technologies (e.g., cochlear implants)
are effective in producing normal-like hearing ability in
deaf children);
Medical interventions (e.g., Efforts initially should focus on
medical interventions in order to try to reduce the negative
effects of hearing loss); and
Culture and bilingualism(e.g., Being a member of a Deaf
community with a unique culture and language enriches
one’s life).
The 47 items are presented as an Appendix to this paper.
The Early Education Longitudinal Study and Study
The EELS sample was recruited from schools that had
agreed to become VL2 School Partners. These schools were
invited to participate in a three-year longitudinal study to inves-
tigate, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old deaf children’s cognitive, language,
and literacy development during the critical period when they
were transitioning into school. In turn, the schools that joined
the project, recruited families to participate. Modeled after the
US Department of Education’s Pre-Elementary Educational
Longitudinal Study (PEELS) conducted by the National Center
for Special Education Research (Markowitz et al, 2006), this
longitudinal study included: 1) a comprehensive battery of di-
rect assessments of cognitive skills, language skills, and
emerging literacy skills; 2) a set of indirect assessments of so-
cial, communication, academic, and language development
embedded in Parent and Teacher surveys targeted at providing
ratings on project participants; 3) Parent Surveys, including (in
addition to the indirect assessments and the BADE scale) ques-
tions on family background, literacy and language practices in
the home, cochlear implant use and experience, and interactions
between school and home; 4) Teacher Surveys, including (in
addition to the indirect assessments and the BADE scale) ques-
tions about classroom practices; and 5) Program Administrator
Surveys, including (in addition to the BADE tool), questions
about school policies. All participants, including the children
who were given a small toy worth less than $5.00, were com-
pensated for completing the surveys.
The types of schools included in the survey were public and
private pre-schools, as well as early childhood programs.
Schools were located in 23 states in various sized communities;
13% of the schools were in very large cities, 23% in large cities,
8% in medium-sized cities, 15% in suburbs, 17% in small cities
or towns of fewer than 50,000 people, 21% in rural areas, and
2% were on an Indian reservation. The schools had relatively
high levels of federal funding with 73% of schools receiving
these funds.
The programs participating in this longitudinal project varied,
including both mainstream programs and deaf schools as re-
ported by the school administrators. Many of the programs
were centered based preschool programs that served primarily
hearing children; 25% as reported by administrators, which
served 40% of the children. Other programs were center based
childcare programs that primarily served hearing children; 3%
as reported by administrators serving 4% of the children. Center
based preschool programs that primarily serve deaf or hard of
hearing children were reported by 43% of the administrators
and these programs served 70% of the children while 3% were
child care programs for deaf and hard of hearing children (4%
of the children.) An addition 13% were reported as home based
programs for deaf and hard of hearing children, which served
21% of the children. Finally administrators reported that 14%
of the programs were clinics that provided occupational and/or
speech and language therapy, serving 23% of the children.
Of the 251 Wave 1 participants, 159 children had parents
who completed the parent survey. Of these children, 100 were
from hearing families, and 59 had a least one deaf parent in the
home. Languages used in the home included English (42%),
Spanish (5%), ASL (43%), and signed English (10%). Please
note that parents were able to report more than one home lan-
guage. Of all of the children in the survey (n = 199), 57 had
cochlear implants while 142 did not have a cochlear implant.
Completed surveys from 62 teachers and 48 school adminis-
trators were received; these surveys were linked to a total of
191 children, owing to the fact that teachers and administrators
came from classrooms or schools with more than one deaf stu-
dent participant. For the current analysis, designed to evaluate
the psychometric properties of the BADE scale, item response
data from the teacher, parent, and administrators surveys were
merged into a single data set containing 269 records.
Analytic Plan
Our strategy for analyzing and refining the BADE scale in-
cluded several steps. First, we analyzed the raw item responses
with an Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) to determine the
underlying latent structure. The EFA was computed using IBM
SPSS, version 19.0. A principal component analysis was used
to obtain the structure. A rotated component matrix was ob-
tained by using a varimax rotation to maximize the distinctive-
ness of the factors and facilitate interpretation (Field, 2009).
We evaluated the Scree plot, and selected factors with the
highest Eigenvalues (greater than .4). We examined the content
of items with the highest loadings on these factors and assigned
labels to the resulting subscales. We subsequently conducted a
reliability analysis of the resulting scales, and eliminated items
demonstrating the lowest item to scale correlations. Finally, we
re-ran the Factor Analysis with the reduced item set to confirm
the stability of the derived scales.
Using the scree plot, it was determined that the elbow oc-
curred at 4 factors. Subsequent analysis was based only on
items loading significantly on these four factors. To create sub-
scales that would have utility in determining prevalent attitudes
of future respondents, we chose to retain only those items load-
ing greater than .5 on each of the top four factors, resulting in
Open Access
highly distinct subscales. Using this criterion, 26 of the original
47 items were retained. Reliability analysis using Cronbach’s
Alpha on each of the four subscales resulted in highly reliable
scales: (Factor 1 α = .91, Factor 2 α = .89, Factor 3 α = .80 and
Factor 4 α = .85).
Given that we had eliminated 21 items as being either re-
dundant or as not contributing to the most significant underly-
ing latent attitudinal factors, and that the reliability analysis
utilized unit scaling (raw item responses, unweighted by the
resulting factor loadings), we re-ran the factor analysis to assess
whether the relative orthogonality of the factors would be
maintained with the reduced item set. As expected the strength
of the four-factor structure was increased after deleting unreli-
able items, resulting in a set of four factors with item loadings
highly similar to the first analysis and a structure that explained
61.3% of the total item variance. We examined the content of
the items loading highly on the factors in this final analysis to
determine appropriate subscale labels for the factors. These are
as follows: Literacy through Hearing Technologies and/or
Visual Support for Speech Comprehension (eigenvalue = 5.81,
explaining 22.3% of the total variance); Visual Language and
Bilingualism (eigenvalue = 5.09, explaining 19.6% of the total
variance); Listening and Spoken Language (eigenvalue = 2.95,
explaining 11.3% of the total variance); and Difficulties Associ-
ated with Hearing Parents Learning ASL (eigenvalue = 2.08,
explaining 8% of the total variance). The overall structural
model showing these four factors and the loadings of their as-
sociated items is presented in Figure 1.
Finally, we developed simple subscale computational rules
for users of the BADE instrument that entailed adding together
the Likert ratings for all the items within each of the subscales
and dividing by the number of items in the subscale. This
yielded a set of four scores between 1 and 5 (the same as the
Likert ratings themselves) that represented the average rating of
respondents for items within each subscale. Subscale scores
below three demonstrate a level of disagreement with the state-
ments within the scale. Subscale scores above three indicate a
level of agreement with the statements within the scale. Scores clo-
se to three indicate the lack of an opinion one way or another.
A follow-up, post-hoc analysis was performed on the newly
developed subscales. Table 1 presents the means and standard
deviations for the BADE subscales broken down by the con-
stituent caregiver groups (Parents, Teachers, and Administra-
tors). In this longitudinal sample, there was strong agreement
among all groups to items representing the Visual Language
and Bilingualism subscale. Parents expressed mean levels of
agreement to the Literacy through Hearing Technologies
and/or Visual Support for Speech Comprehension scale that
exceeded 3 points, whereas Teachers and Administrators were
more likely to disagree with statements oriented to this phi-
losophy. Respondents from all groups tended to disagree with
statements indicating that learning ASL with English might
pose a threat to later language development (Listening and
Spoken Language), though, again, parents showed higher levels
of agreement than the other two groups. All three groups
showed quite low levels of agreement with statements suggest-
ing that hearing parents would have difficulty learning ASL
(Difficulties Associated with Hearing Parents Learning ASL.)
While the factor analysis yielded orthogonal factors and
helped sort statements into factors exhibiting the highest levels
of within-factor communality and between factor uniqueness,
the unit scaling proposed for easily computing interpretable
subscale scores, undermines the orthogonality by using the
unweighted item ratings directly in the computation of the
scores. Table 2 presents the correlation matrix of the derived
scores. It is clear that the scaling strategy proposed results in
considerable co-linearity among the derived scores. However,
the pattern of correlations among the subscale scores is quite
interesting, and also quite predicable from the two opposing
educational philosophies described at the beginning of this
paper. The Literacy through Hearing Technologies and/or Vis-
ual Support for Speech Comprehension subscale correlated
positively with both the Listening and Spoken Language sub-
scale and the Difficulties Associated with Hearing Parents
Learning ASL subscale, reinforcing the idea that a strong orien-
tation toward literacy through hearing technologies, speech
reading, and/or cued speech imply negative attitudes about
bilingualism and low expectations about parents’ abilities to
acquire sufficient sign skill to employ a rich visual language in
the early childhood experiences of preschool deaf children. At
the same time, the Visual Language and Bilingualism subscale
demonstrated significant and moderately high negative correla-
tions with all of the other subscales. Again, this finding rein-
forces the presence of a strong dichotomy of attitudes in the
population (and speaks to the validity of the BADE scale for
studying attitudinal differences among participant subgroups).
Finally, the correlation between the perceived Difficulties Asso-
ciated with Hearing Parents Learning ASL subscale and the
Listening and Spoken Language was a substantial .61 and
highly significant. Those who perceived ASL as a threat to later
language development tended also to underrate a parent’s abil-
ity to master ASL. In effect, these two scales present an attitude
of monolingualism.
The BADE scale includes 26 items and four subscales; Lit-
eracy through Hearing Technologies, Visual Language and
Bilingualism, Listening and Spoken Language, and Difficulties
for Hearing Parents to Learn ASL. The BADE scale was de-
veloped to allow parents, early interventionists, and teachers to
better understand their own attitudes about best practices for
young deaf learners. As such, if permits users to determine their
current beliefs. The four subscales can stimulate dialogues
about other possibilities that parents may be unaware of during
the initial moments of learning that they have a child who has
just “failed” their first test (Early Intervention: The Missing
Link; The
scale helps parents to understand that there are multiple ways to
view a child’s hearing status, that there are many communica-
tion opportunities for parents, and that they are not mutually
exclusive. The scale can help parents manage their shock and
possible fear that they child is disabled and will be unable to
function fully in a “hearing world”. As such, the BADE scale
was developed to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with
having a young deaf learner. The results of the screening tool
may be helpful in examining conflicting belief systems and to
help frame discussion points among those involved in deaf
children’s educational programs.
Historically, hearing parents tend to choose a Literacy
through Hearing Technologies and/or Visual Support for
Speech Comprehension approac for their deaf children, and h
Open Access 1033
Open Access
Figure 1.
Path diagram of the four factors and their item loadings.
Table 1.
Means and standard deviations for bade subscales constituent caregiver groups.
Parents (N = 139) Teachers (N = 45) Administrators (N = 41)
Literacy through Hearing Technologies 3.17(.83) 2.61 (.90) 2.87 (.74)
Visual Language & Bilingualism 4.01 (.64) 4.12 (.61) 3.98 (.73)
Listening and Spoken Language 2.22 (.89) 1.53 (.63) 1.73 (.81)
Difficulties for H earing Parents to Learn ASL 1.71 (.90) 1.37 (.62) 1.71 (.91)
Based on a Likert Scale, where 1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree.
Table 2.
Correlation Matrix: Beliefs and Attitudes about Deaf Education Sub-
L-H-T .54** .50** .33**
V-B .50** .43**
L-S .61**
(**Correlation is significant at the .01 level, 2-tailed; L-H-T = Literacy through
Hearing Technologies and/or Visual Support for Speech Comprehension Subscale;
V-B = Visual Language & Bilingualism Subscale; L-S = Listening and Spoken
Language; DHPLASL = Difficulties for Hearing Parents to Learn ASL Subscale).
this choice has occurred despite efforts by early intervention
providers to present all communication options in a neutral,
non-biased way. Early intervention, however, is typically a
“medical” service provided by medical professionals; therefore,
neutrality may be difficult to achieve and may be an unrealistic
goal given the backgrounds of service providers. Regardless of
these factors, there are most likely other underlying reasons
influencing hearing parents during this decision-making process
that involve their beliefs and attitudes.
Hearing parents naturally want their children to be a part of
their own cultural heritage and linguistic milieu; varying from
this norm would be challenging as has been explained recently
in the bestselling book: Far From the Tree: Parents, Children
and Their Search for Identity by Solomon (2012). According to
Solomon, when parents produce a child they hope that their
own lives will continue in their children. Parents of children
who fall Far from the Tree are unprepared when their children
are born with or acquire unfamiliar needs. Further, although
Open Access 1035
some parents take pride in how different their children are from
them, most are prone to endless sadness at this difference. As a
result, Solomon states that “parenthood abruptly catapults par-
ents’ in a permanent relationship with a stranger and the more
alien the stranger, the more negative the attitudes” (pg.16).
Hearing parents’ response initially to the identification of their
child’s hearing loss and the decisions they make regarding
communication philosophies and educational placement are
most likely a result of wanting to give their deaf children op-
portunities to be Nearer to the Tree or to be aligned with their
own culture and value system.
Although professionals providing information and counsel-
ing to families strive to maintain neutrality, they bring their
own set of beliefs and attitudes to this process and likely influ-
ence families’ decisions. Exploring one’s own beliefs and atti-
tudes including from where they originated (e.g., from family
members or personal experiences, from university preparation
programs) and how they have changed or crystallized maybe a
useful exercise. Further, exploring one’s beliefs and attitudes
toward children whose linguistic needs fall far from the tree
may bring new insights.
When service providers, teachers, and administrators beliefs
and attitudes are in contrast with the family’s, the BADE tool
may be useful to analyze where they diverge and may serve as a
springboard for further discussion of vertical identities and
horizontal identities. Vertical identities, as Solomon (2012)
explains, tend to be those which could be described as falling
within the family’s accepted cultural norms and expectations,
many of which have been passed down from generation to gen-
eration. Language, according to Solomon, is typically a vertical
identity because it is normally transmitted from parent to child,
and parents tend to want their children to communicate using
the shared language of the home. Vertical identities also include
attributes and values that are passed down (e.g., ethnicity, hair
color, DNA, cultural expectations). Horizontal identities, which
tend to be foreign to parents, are typically not found in the fam-
ilies’ heritage or culture and therefore, fall outside the vertical-
ity of the familiar (e.g., prenatal influences, values and prefer-
ences that the child does not share with the family, recessive
genes). While vertical identities emerge from families, hori-
zontal identities are usually acquired from a peer group. In the
case of deaf children who sign and have hearing parents, in-
stead of language being vertical and transmitted from parent to
child, it is most often horizontal where outsiders and peers be-
come the language models while parents are acquiring commu-
nication skills.
Using the BADE scale can open a dialogue between physi-
cians, audiologists, early interventionists, educators, and par-
ents. It can provide an opportunity to discuss a variety of com-
munication options, including the pros and cons related to each
choice. In this way, parents can explore multiple options at a
time when many of them are grieving the loss of an “ideal”
child who is like them. For most hearing parents, the first deaf
person they meet is their own child (Benedict, 2013) who has
just “failed” their first test—they cannot hear. This emotional
situation can be framed as a dialogue about possibilities that are
researched based. Clearly, early interventionists and teachers
need new tools to assist parents in choosing early communica-
tion approaches that take full advantage a child's intact sensory
potential. Further, early communication approaches must be
carefully monitored to ensure that children are acquiring lan-
guage on a normal trajectory; otherwise the result of lack of
early access to a fully-functioning language system may lead to
severe academic delays. New emerging research is revealing
that ASL/English bilingualism (Mayberry & Locke, 2003; Pé-
nicaud et al., 2013) leads to successful cognitive and linguistic
development for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing. This
ASL/English bilingualism maybe bimodal, where the child
learns both speech and sign language (Nussbaum, Scott, &
Simms, 2012) at the same time to take advantage of the epige-
netic benefits of accessible early language (Pénicaud et al.,
2013). Depending on family wishes and the success of hearing
restoration, these children may elect to drop sign language if
their spoken language development provides them academic
language and effective progress in their education. If the child
is not able to depend solely on spoken language for academic
success, they are optimally positioned to take advantage of both
sign and spoken languages given the benefits of early ASL/
English bilingualism.
Limitations and future research. This longitudinal sample
is predominantly from center-based programs that serve deaf
and hard of hearing children. As such, many of the programs
had a strong bilingual philosophy. In addition 68% of the par-
ents reporting using ASL at home, even if they themselves were
not native signers. Given these characteristics of the sample,
future research could administer the BADE to parents of chil-
dren who are more English-only in their educational philosophy.
This data could then be used in a confirmatory factor analysis
to determine whether or not the items load on the same factors
when parents have selected more listening and spoken language
educational programs.
Conclusion. The BADE scale provides a mechanism to
frame future opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing children
who most often are born to hearing families. This scale can help
parents, early interventionists, and teachers analyze their own
attitudes and beliefs in order to better meet the needs of young
deaf learners. If parents and early interventionist/teachers atti-
tudes differ, the BADE scale can provide a point of reference
for discussion and dialogue about what each expects to occur
for the child. Moreover, the BADE scale can be used to connect
to recent efforts, which provide more information about the
benefits of early sign language (,, and This information can help par-
ents navigate possibilities for language choice and educational
placements that reflect the full range of possibilities. As the
deaf baby is often the first deaf person most hearing parents
meet, they tend to be unaware of deaf culture and the benefits
of visual language. The BADE scale can provide an opening to
choices that are often not reflected by those in the medical pro-
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Appendix A.
Beliefs about Deaf Education Questionnaire
Items (47 Original Items)
1) Children less than six years old should receive general
services for developmental delays and not be labeled with a
specific disability.
2) Learning in the regular classroom through an interpreter
produces higher levels of learning than a deaf education class-
room with a teacher of the deaf.
3) Learning two languages would be too great a challenge
for young deaf or hard of hearing children.
4) Deaf or hard of hearing children should enter hearing
classrooms as soon as possible in order for them to learn
grade-level information along with their hearing peers.
5) Talking and signing at the same time provides children
access to both a visual and an auditory language.
6) Young deaf and hard of hearing children can learn finger-
spelling as infants.
7) Deaf or hard of hearing infants and toddlers should re-
ceive early intervention services primarily through training
provided to their parents/guardians in natural environments.
8) Many hearing parents do not learn to sign because they
have chosen another communication approach for their child.
9) It is a positive experience to have parents of deaf or hard
of hearing children meet deaf adult.
10) Talking combined with Cued Speech (CS) and/or
speechreading provides children visual and auditory access to
11) Because sign language hinders the development of lis-
tening and talking, young deaf or hard of hearing children
should be allowed to develop spoken language initially without
the influence of signs.
12) If children have early access to spoken language through
hearing without visual supports then they will development
better later language skills.
13) If children use hearing aids, they will learn language through
their residual hearing regardless of the level of hearing loss.
14) Using any visual supports while talking is confusing and
hinders the development of auditory access to language.
15) ASL is a visual language aids, they will learn language
through their residual hearing regardless of the level of hearing loss.
16) With amplification (hearing aids or a cochlear implant)
and focused early intervention, deaf children will be able to
attend regular classes in elementary school without needing an
interpreter or transliterator.
17) New technologies (e.g., cochlear implants) are effective
in producing normal-like hearing ability in deaf children.
18) Language can be learned visually; therefore, American
Sign Language (ASL) is an appropriate communication ap-
proach for young children.
19) Cued Speech is an appropriate communication approach
for young children.
20) Families must focus on a child’s medical diagnosis and
concentrate on therapeutic interventions during the first three
21) Hearing parents cannot learn ASL; therefore, it is much
more effective to help them learn English-based signs or Cued
22) Hearing parents cannot learn ASL; therefore, the focus
should be on the child’s oral language skills.
23) Parents must make choices about which communication
approach to use with their young child.
24) Efforts initially should focus on medical interventions in
order to try to reduce the negative effects of hearing loss.
25) If children have early access to spoken language through
residual hearing and/or vision (e.g., speechreading, Cued
Speech) they will development better later language skills.
26) If children have early access to sign, they will develop
better later language skills.
27) Many hearing parents do not learn to sign because they
are overwhelmed by other demands on their resources (e.g.,
other children, finances, other conditions of the child).
28) Cued Speech, because it provides an accurate visual rep-
resentation of oral language, can map the brain of young deaf
and hard of hearing children, thus giving them an advantage for
later developing literacy.
29) All deaf or hard of hearing children should be educated
in the regular classroom with hearing peers regardless of age.
30) ASL, because it is a visual language, can map the brain
of young deaf and hard of hearing children thus giving them an
advantage for later developing literacy.
31) Enrollment in a residential school for the deaf should
occur as early as possible.
32) Academic content can be best learned through ASL.
33) Academic content can be best learned through the lan-
guage in which the child will be reading so that they will have
access to the same vocabulary and language skills in print and
in class.
34) Parents and teachers of deaf or hard of hearing children
should use a combination of all techniques in order to make
sure the child is not limited by one approach.
35) Enrollment in a residential school for the deaf should
only be selected when all other placements have failed (e.g.,
hearing preschool, regular kindergarten, public school main-
streamed classrooms).
36) Deaf and hard of hearing children can learn ASL.
37) made accessible through a combination of residual hear-
ing, speechreading and Cued Speech as infants.
38) Being able to read and write is more important than be-
ing able to listen and speak.
39) Learning American Sign Language isolates young chil-
dren from the hearing world.
40) Being a member of a Deaf community with a unique
culture and language enriches one’s life.
41) A bilingual environment that includes ASL provides full
access to language and communication.
42) Deaf and hard of hearing children’s behavior problems
come mostly from frustration caused by lack of communication.
43) Deaf and hard of hearing children can become fluent in
English (reading and writing) if given early access to language
through ASL in the first year of life.
44) Special schools for the deaf provide a language-rich ed-
ucational experience that cannot be replicated in a public
45) Deaf and hard of hearing children who do not have ac-
cess to ASL when young struggle academically throughout
their lives.
46) Deaf and hard of hearing children can become fluent in
English (reading and writing) if given access to spoken lan-
guage through hearing, speechreading, and/or Cued Speech in
the first year of life.
47) Full access to language and communication is possible
for deaf children without the use of ASL.
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