About ALSO / RAPP
ALSO has been providing free adult and family literacy services for over 30 years.
Working with both English stream and Deaf stream learners, we offer literacy skill upgrading to assist students reach their goals in obtaining work, training and further education.
We are a registered charity and proud to provide guidance and support enabling learners to strengthen literacy, numeracy, and employability skills.
ALSO is an important piece of the Deaf community in Ottawa having been asked in 2010 to take over the Deaf Stream Literacy and Basic Skills program by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. After our first year, we thought that we should be doing something for the Deaf children and their parents in our community. So, after receiving consultation and training from the Shared Reading Project staff team at the Le Clerc Centre in Washington, the idea for ASL RAPP was formed.
ALSO has received funding for ASL RAPP from the Community Foundation of Ottawa and the Ottawa Deaf Centre Legacy Fund. Our Deaf mentors have gone into the Vincent Massey Deaf and Hard of Hearing class on a biweekly basis. We have worked closely with the Family Communication Consultants from IHP (before the centralization) as well as the families connected to Hands & Voices Ottawa. In addition, we offer an ASL RAPP group the last Friday morning of each month for parents with their Deaf/hard of hearing children. All of these program offerings have been at no cost to the participating families.
Each year we work with 20-30 families in our community. These families have Deaf or hard of hearing children between the ages of 1-7 years old. Parents who understand emergent literacy and language development are better able to support their child’s own development.
ALSO has long been a champion for family literacy in Ottawa. Through our outreach family literacy program, the Reading and Parents Program (RAPP), we serve between 130-150 high need, at risk families each year. RAPP is a resource based family literacy program focused on parents with children from 6 months – 6 years of age. More recently we have partnered with the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) for our RAPP in the Library project. We now have 180 RAPP packs in circulation with 6 OPL home branches for RAPP. This collection includes 25 ALSOvoices RAPP titles, 25 ASL RAPP titles and 10 French RAPP titles. 3 copies of each title are in the OPL. This project has been a huge success.
RAPP is an important player in the Ottawa family literacy landscape. Many of the Early Years initiatives focus on the child, offering support and resources for these young children. RAPP focuses on the parent. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. RAPP builds the parents’ skill and knowledge so that they are better able to support their child’s learning at home. RAPP fosters family communication and adds strength to the parent-child relationship. RAPP builds parents’ confidence and enhances parent-child time together in the home. Families with low literacy or low language skills (as is the case for hearing parents of Deaf children with respect to ASL) need support in order for them to be effective language models for their children. Children are spending the majority of their time at home with their parents. RAPP invests time and resources in the parent, positively impacting the learning context in the home.
What is ASL RAPP?
ALSO’s Deaf Family Literacy Project – ASL Reading and Parents Program (ASL RAPP)
ASL RAPP is an evidence based family literacy program. It promotes school readiness by building the skills of both the parent and the child which has a positive impact on the learning environment in the home. We work with deaf and hard of hearing children (1-7 years) and their parents. ASL RAPP provides parents with the tools to support the ASL language development of their deaf or hard of hearing children as well as themselves.
ALSO’s ASL RAPP aims to increase family connections and family communication; it allows parents to learn with their child at home; it gives parents the tools they need to support their child’s language learning as well as their own.
More and more people in the community are learning about ASL RAPP and are asking to come and see what the program is all about. Our vision was to be able to share ASL RAPP with other service providers and families in our community.
Here are some of our results from the ASL RAPP groups we have offered over the last 3 years.
- 90% of parents indicate that they and their children enjoyed participating in the program
- 80% of parents indicate increased confidence in supporting their child’s language development at home.
- 90% of parents indicate they learned something new about supporting their child’s learning.
- 80% of parents indicate that they communicate more with their child after having participated in the program.
- The parents who participated in ASL RAPP have felt supported and encouraged. ASL RAPP opens a door for them to develop their ASL language skills so that they can communicate with their child children have a solid foundation from which to build.
With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation we are able to upscale ASL RAPP. We created this membership based ASL RAPP web portal for families. This way, by paying a small membership fee, families can access ASL RAPP online and use it at their convenience no matter where they are in Canada. In addition, organizations are now able to purchase ASL RAPP packs for use with the parents and children they serve.
We are very grateful to the Community Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ottawa Deaf Centre Legacy Fund and our other funders/donors for their support.
Is ASL RAPP available in the Ottawa community off-line?
Last year with funding from the Community Foundation we introduced RAPP in the Library. Because the families who need this resource are spread across the city having access to the ASL RAPP materials at the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) is a huge benefit. RAPP in the Library increases access for families not able to participate in our monthly group sessions or regular program. This year, with continued funding from the Community Foundation, we expanded the ASL RAPP packs available at the OPL increasing the number of titles to 25 and the number of packs to 75. In our first year the packs were checked out 74 times between January – June. There were 57 holds placed on the packs. We reached over 300 parents, siblings and children in the Ottawa area.
ALSO offers ASL RAPP sessions the last Friday morning of each month from 9:30-11:00 a.m. at our location in Heartwood House (404 McArthur). Parents are welcome to join the group with or without their children. Grandparents and siblings are also welcome. There is no charge for these sessions. Please contact Kim for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org or 613 233 8660
How did this all begin?
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities asked ALSO to take over the Deaf Stream Literacy and Basic Skills program 6 years ago. We worked hard to make this a smooth transition. After our first year we thought we should be doing something for the Deaf children in our community and their parents. Kathy, Kim and Shalma connected with the Shared Reading Project staff team at the Le Clerc Centre in Washington. We attended their Site Coordinator training, spent a year doing more research and applied for funding to develop ASL RAPP.
We have had funding from the Community Foundation of Ottawa and the Ottawa Deaf Centre Legacy Fund. Our Deaf mentors have gone into the Vincent Massey Deaf and Hard of Hearing class on a biweekly basis. We have worked closely with the Family Communication Consultants from IHP (before the centralization) as well as the families connected to Hands & Voices Ottawa. In addition, we offer an ASL RAPP group the last Friday morning of each month for parents with their Deaf/hard of hearing children. All of these program offerings have been free for the families.
Each year we worked with between 20-30 families in our community. These families have deaf or hard of hearing children between the ages of 1-7 years old. Parents who understand emergent literacy and language development are better able to support their child’s own development.
Why this approach to ASL language learning?
Learning ASL through storytelling is fun for both parents and children. Storytelling naturally engages children and parents allowing them to learn ASL and also to access their innate ability to ‘tell’ a story through gestures. Parents who have confidence in their own ability to support their child’s learning are better able to have supportive, nurturing relationships with their children. This program opens a door for families with deaf or hard of hearing children enabling them to succeed, be ready for school and develop a system for family communication. Family communication supports close loving relationships and sets the foundation for positive parent-child interaction.
What is the goal of ASL RAPP?
Our goal is to encourage and support the development of strong family communication as well as parent-child connection.
What are the guiding assumptions of ASL RAPP?
- Every child can learn. Every parent can learn.
- All children communicate. It is up to parents and professionals to figure out how and what a child is communicating and build on that skill.
- Each child is unique. Be willing to let the child teach and lead you.
- Blending of methodologies and technologies is often required. Be flexible and open to different methods and modes of communication.
- Children acquire language through interaction.
- Development of communication takes time and patience.
- Children need to develop effective social skills. It is through language that children develop social, emotional and cognitive abilities that are critical to timely development in all developmental areas.
- Families are critical for success. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers.
- Cross disciplinary professionals must work together effectively.
Jones, T.W., Jones, J. K., & Wing, K.M. (2006). Students with multiple disabilities. In D. F. Moores & D.S. Martin (Eds.), Deaf learners: Developments in curriculum and instruction (pp. 127-143). Washington, DC” Gallaudet University Press.
Hands & Voices. www.handsandvoices.org. Communication Considerations A-Z
What are the Early Language Development milestones for ASL?
Early Words (www.earlywords.ca)
Note for parents: Most of the children we work with for ASL RAPP are between 1 and 7 years of age. They may be well beyond the stages below or they may be somewhere on the language learning continuum. The age of the child may not necessarily match the ages associated with the Sign Language Milestones listed.
Early Language Development – Sign Language Milestones
Birth – 3 months
- looks around with alertness
- is attracted to human movement
- looks attentively at a person’s face
- responds to smiles by smiling back
- enjoys cuddling and holding
- plays with hands and fingers and enjoys hand plays
6 months – 9 months
- enjoys hand babbling – repetitive hand movements such as opening and closing hands in a rhythm without associated leg movement
- turns head to locate moving objects, and to watch sign movements used to communicate
- looks at common objects and family members when named in ASL
- understands simple ASL words
9 months – 12 months
- begins hand babbling with varied patterns
- begins to use simple movements with hand shapes, such as straight forward or up and down
- points to self and things
- signs first ASL words using simple hand shapes, such as “mine”, “more”, “milk”, “mommy”
- has vocabulary of 10 signs
12 months – 18 months
- begins to combine ASL words into simple two sign sentences, such as “eat more”, “ouch fall”
- uses touch and gesture to summon parents and to indicate needs
- asks questions, such as: “yes” or “no” with eyebrows raised along with a sign such as “mine” to say, “Is it mine?”
- “what” or “where” with frowned eyebrows
- points, and can sign some letters of the alphabet
- uses negation – a head shake alone or with negative sign “no” or “can’t”
- uses up to 40 signs, but understands many more
18 months – 24 months
- uses 20 or more ASL words at 18 months
- combines two or more ASL words, such as “bath upstairs”, “bye daddy”, “stroller outside”, or “baby cry”
- linguistically points to self and others
- begins to tell stories about the here and now
- loves ASL stories and stories from books
- copies actions and facial expressions of characters in a story
- takes turns talking back and forth with you
- by 24 months may have a vocabulary of more than 200 words