Videos: Total Communication


High school senior, Devin, was diagnosed with a severe-profound hearing loss at thirteen months. She wore hearing aids until receiving a cochlear implant 4 years prior to this filming at age 13. Devin attended a preschool classroom for Deaf/Hard-of-hearing children where “Total Communication” was used consistently and her parents learned to sign. She has received her education in a public school setting, with support from a Total Communication based hearing-impaired program that provided her with interpreters and resource assistance as needed.

“My life is normal I do everything…umm…  I mean I love to go shopping … I mean I socialize with a lot of people, kids, people… You know, I mean even though Deaf people, you know, they should all consider their life as “normal” if they would just determine that’s what they want to do. So just step up and just go out and go shopping, I mean meet new people…Don’t think, “I’m deaf they are going to think I am stupid!” No, I mean I date…I go out with friends, hang out with my mom, my family, my friends. I go to high school. I go to public school. I’ve been mainstreamed since I was like Kindergarten… whatever…. So I really have a normal life, I would say.”




Teacher of the Hearing Impaired, Carla Massengill, uses sign language along with spoken language to give directions for a language and vocabulary building exercise.

“…Danny, these are all words from our story… “Me on the Map”
What you are going to do is… I’ll put the car in the middle of the table.
I know I’ll tell him!  You have to start at the arrow at the bottom.
You are going to drive your car.
You are going to park it on the word that I say.
It’s going to help you remember the words from the story.
I am going to put all the cars in the middle.
Only pick a car when it is time to cover the word…”




Four-year-old, Alex, was born prematurely and suffered many life-threatening issues. Alex has a syndrome that impacts his hearing and his ability to speak. He has worn hearing aids since 8 months of age to address a significant conductive hearing loss. Alex is said to hear within normal limits with the use of his hearing aids. His family uses sign language to encourage his expressive language skills.

Mother: Okay, ready?… We’re going to play a fun game… Allright… Are you ready?  Which one do you eat? Oh, that’s right! What is that?
Alex: Cheese (signs)
Mother: Cheese!  That’s right!  Which one…

Mother: How does he feel baby? Happy or grumpy?
Alex: Happy!
Mother: He’s not happy, he’s grumpy!
Alex: Grumpy!
Mother: Grumpy, very good!
Mother: Pizza and ice cream a little catfish!

Alex: Hat
Mother: It’s a hat… it’s a black hat… What’s this right here?
Alex: Ball
Mother: A ball, an orange ball… What about this?  One more! I see one more!
Mother: What’s that?
Alex: Shoe green
Mother: Green.. a green shoe