skip to content
Primary navigation

Social & Emotional Development

Having compromised and limited access to spoken language impacts far more than just academic skills in schools; it also affects social and emotional development. However, many IEPs goals primarily focus on reading, writing and math skills for students who are deaf/hard of hearing. At the 2019 Collaborative Plan Summit, hosted by MNCDHH, stakeholders identified an important priority of focusing on the social and emotional needs of deaf/hard of hearing children, particularly those educated in general education classrooms.  In Minnesota, this means 88% of the deaf/hard of hearing school-aged population.  

Children and teens who are deaf/hard of hearing tend not to overhear conversations of their classmates, especially in noisy situations such as gym, lunch, recess, small group discussions, and social situations.  This results in missed information to develop social competence, which can create feelings of isolation and frustration.  

According to Linda Rissel Lytle and Gina A. Oliva, researchers from Gallaudet University, “Most people vastly underestimate how many conversations and incidental information deaf and hard of hearing individuals miss. Many hearing people are unaware of how much they hear and absorb without any effort at all on a daily basis. This kind of information is called incidental learning, and missing this information can adversely impact social-emotional and cognitive development from a very young age. Both deaf and hard of hearing students are at risk of missing significant conversations and information, are often rejected by peers, and struggle academically. Yet students with mild and moderate hearing levels often are perceived, wrongly, as not needing services and connections with deaf and hard of hearing peers.” 

Lytle and Oliva further identified key principles in a research brief on "Raising the Whole Child: Social-Emotional Development in Deaf Children."  It is important to recognize that “social-emotional development promotes language skills, and language skills in turn support social-emotional development; and deaf and hard of hearing children are empowered when they are considered part of the overall diversity among students in a school.”

Who this impacts

  • Children and teens who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Families of children and teens who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Teachers of deaf/hard of hearing
  • Teachers in general education classrooms


A social-emotional webinar series was created for teachers of students who are deaf/hard of hearing and other school team members to help them understand the experiences of their students.

The webinar series was developed by adults who have lived experiences in the mainstream (general education) setting, adults who grew up as the only student with hearing loss in their learning environment, adults who grew up in small programs for students who are D/HH, and adults who lost hearing later in life. Their shared stories provide the context for the evidence-based strategies. Some individuals used American Sign Language (ASL), some used spoken English, and one also used Cued Speech along with spoken English.  

This series of 30 short real-life stories provides strategies for teachers to support social and emotional development, encouraging them to look at the whole child and the unique challenges that students who are deaf/hard of hearing have when social language access is limited.  The hope is that this webinar will spark discussions to consider IEP goals and activities that support social-emotional development and self-identity for deaf/hard of hearing students.  Metro ECSU and MNCDHH provided funding for the production of this webinar. 

Teachers who work in a district that is a member of Infinitec can earn teaching professional development clock hours by taking the pre and post quizzes on Infinitec's site

Social and emotional development can be addressed in your student's and child's IEP. Visit the "Developing a Language and Communication Focused IEP: A Discussion Guide" page for information about writing IEP goals. 

Who was involved?

  • Ingrid Aasan, Metro ECSU Director of Special Education
  • Anna Paulson, MNCDHH Coordinator of Educational Advancement & Partnerships
  • Infinitec 
  • Script Writers:  Jessalyn Akerman-Frank, Emily Kedrowski, Emily Manson, Ann Mayes, Diane Schiffler-Dobe
  • On-Screen Talent:  Adults: Jessalyn Akerman-Frank, Emily Kedrowski, Emily Manson, Ann Mayes, Diane Schiffler-Dobe; Young Adults/Teens: Jaemi Hagen, Kobe Schroeder,  Hannah Taylor, Ka Lia Yang
  • 2019 Statewide Collaborative Plan’s Deaf Education Summit Stakeholders
back to top