Language & Communication

Phoenix Day School for the Deaf believes in a dual language approach to language acquisition and communication. Within the dual language approach, American Sign Language and English are both equally important and vital to the educational success of each and every student!

The ultimate goal is for students to graduate from PDSD with a firm foundation in both ASL and English. These two languages may look different for each student, therefore altering the type of services they receive. All staff at PDSD play an integral part in language development. Classroom teachers approach their daily instruction with an emphasis in both ASL and English. Their responsibilities include assisting in the development of communication skills, reinforcing developing and emerging skills and helping to stabilize the various aspects of communication. Teachers strive to guide the students through Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and onto Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). PDSD understands the importance of both social and academic language abilities in ASL and English. The entire staff at PDSD is responsible for the student’s acquisition of communication competency by infusing these skills throughout the academic day.

Under the language and communication department, PDSD has 3 ASL specialists and 5 Speech and Language Pathologists. These staff members work campus wide as an additional service and support to the ongoing work happening in the classrooms.

Click below to find out more about each of their roles:

ASL Specialists
PDSD has two American Sign Language Specialists. These related service staff members work with all departments on campus, PreK-12th grade. The purpose and services provided include pullout services, push-in services and teacher/staff support. These services are categorized under either Individualized Education Program (IEP) services or campus wide support services.

For IEP services, the specialists will process referrals and perform diagnostic evaluations to determine if IEP driven services are needed. Each specialist is assigned a caseload for individual or small group sessions in order to address each student’s IEP goal(s).

The general framework of the campus wide support program is explained below:

Preschool: The ASL Specialists will work closely with various, on campus, preschool teachers to provide support 2x a week for 20 minutes each time. The ASL Specialist will develop lesson and activity ideas working with all of the students in both small and large group settings. The main focus will be geared towards the Academic Readiness Checklist (ARC) with the goal for student mastery by 2nd grade. Preschool will focus on Stage 1.

Elementary: The ASL Specialists will work closely with various K-4th grade teachers to provide support 2x a week for 30 minutes per session. The ASL Specialists will develop lesson and activity ideas working with all of the students in both small and large group settings. These lessons will address language (ASL) and bilingual (ASL-English) development. Lower Elementary students will be focused towards the Academic Readiness Checklist (ARC) with the goal for student mastery by 2nd grade. Kindergarten will focus on Stage 2 and 1st grade will focus on Stage 3. Upper Elementary students will also focus on 5 stages of story signing process using the ASL Lab. Elementary students will also be introduced to the use of the ASL resource book.

Life Skills: The ASL Specialists will work closely with various teachers to provide support 2x a week for 30 minutes per session. The ASL Specialists will develop lesson and activity ideas working with all of the students in both small and large group settings. These lessons will address language (ASL) development. The main focus will be geared towards basic communication skills and the Academic Readiness Checklist (ARC).

Middle School: The ASL Specialists will work with a different 5th-8th grade class 1x a week. Lessons will be developed, planned, and presented around activities for grammar (ASL) development. Bilingual strategies will also be addressed. The classroom teacher will assist and support. The classroom teacher will be responsible to do an extension/follow up activity on his or her own the following day(s).

High School: The ASL Specialists will assist with making learning geared around thematic units, hands-on activities, with experience based learning for remedial students. The ASL Specialist will work closely with the classroom teacher with the primary goal to provide an authentic ASL model, while providing ASL support with the topics that are being taught. The ASL Specialists will also provide monthly ASL mini-workshops for teachers/students in the high school department as a whole.

Speech and Language Pathologists
PDSD has four Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) and one SLP-Assistant. These related service members work with all departments on campus, PreK-12th grade. The purpose and services provided include pullout and push-in speech and auditory training services. These services are necessary per the students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEP).

The SLPs will process referrals and perform diagnostic evaluations to determine if IEP driven services are needed. Each SLP is assigned a caseload for individual or small group sessions in order to address each student’s IEP goal(s). IEP goals are included in the areas of speechreading, articulation and auditory training.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), SLPs have integral roles in education and are essential to the school setting. Furthermore, ASHA outlines some of the critical roles and responsibilities of the school based SLP:

Ensuring Educational Relevance — SLPs address personal, social/emotional, academic, and vocational needs that have an impact on attainment of educational goals.

Providing Unique Contributions to Curriculum — SLPs provide a distinct set of roles based on their focused expertise in language. They offer assistance in addressing the linguistic and metalinguistic foundations of curriculum learning.

Highlighting Language/Literacy — Current research supports the interrelationships across the language processes of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. SLPs contribute significantly to the literacy achievement of students.

Intervention — SLPs provide intervention that is appropriate to the age and learning needs of each individual student and is selected through an evidence-based decision-making process. Although service delivery models are typically more diverse in the school setting than in other settings, the therapy techniques are clinical in nature.

Collaboration — SLPs work in partnership with others to meet students’ needs.

With Other School Professionals — SLPs provide services to support the instructional program at a school. Therefore, SLPs’ unique contributions complement and augment those made by other professionals who also have unique perspectives and skills. SLPs work closely with teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, school psychologists, and audiologists, in addition to others. Working with school and district administrators in designing and implementing programs is crucial.

With Students — Student involvement in the intervention process is essential to promoting personal responsibility and ownership of communication improvement goals. SLPs actively engage students in goal planning, intervention implementation, monitoring of progress, and self-advocacy appropriate to age and ability level.

If you would like more information, please contact Flint Fears, Assistant Principal, 602-771-5303 flint.fears@asdb.az.gov