History of Baby Signs

In the deaf community, signing with your baby has obviously been nothing new: a deaf parent transfers sign language as the first language to his or her hearing child in a natural way. Spoken language would be taught to the child by hearing others in the family, or hearing friends. 

As Joseph Garcia began working as a sign language interpreter in the late 1970's, he noticed that hearing babies of deaf parents could communicate their needs and desires at a much earlier age than children of hearing parents.

Garcia began to do research on the use of American Sign Language with hearing babies of hearing parents at Alaska Pacific University in 1987. His thesis research showed that babies who are exposed to signs regularly and consistently at six to seven months of age can begin expressive communication by their eighth or ninth month.

After graduating, Garcia focused on creating a practical system for hearing parents to use sign language with their preverbal babies. He published his first book on the subject, Toddler Talk, in 1994. As Garcia began his doctoral studies in adult learning and education, he expanded and revised his program, which is now known as 'SIGN with your BABY'.

In America, Baby Signs has been known for a while now, and a substantial part of young parents there knows and uses the concept of Baby Signs in the communication with their child.


Baby Signs in the Netherlands

Lissa Zeviar (1976), born in Canada, has been brought up by two deaf parents and thus learned sign language as her first language. As a hearing person raised by deaf parents, she got to know a lot of people in the deaf community. After having worked in America as a sign language interpreter, she came to the Netherlands in 2004 and picked up Dutch sign language as well. Working with the deaf community here, and with Dutch sign language, she soon found out that the concept of Baby Signs was not very familiar in the Netherlands yet. Reason enough for Lissa to start her own company, 'Babygebaren' in January 2005. The experience she had in her own youth with signing, working as an interpreter in America and the Netherlands, and her extensive experience in and knowledge of several deaf communities, made starting with Baby Sign only a very natural thing to do.