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The ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™

Kristin Snoddon, ASL and Literacy Training Co-ordinator
Shannon Pollock, ASL and Literacy Consultant
Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf


In 1974 the Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf (OCSD) was affiliated with the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf to promote Deaf culture and heritage in Ontario and encourage Deaf people’s contributions to the fields of art, drama and literature. OCSD was formally established in 1980 and incorporated in 1987. In recent years, we have made great strides in our work to strengthen family ties between parents and their Deaf children and increase opportunities for the formal study of American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture.

OCSD’s mandate is to provide leadership, resources, training and activities that promote Deaf language, culture and heritage. Our current work includes the following activities:

ASL and Early Literacy: With an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, we have trained ASL and Literacy Consultants to provide ASL instruction focusing on the language needs of parents of young Deaf children. The ASL and Literacy Consultants also provide information to parents about ASL developmental milestones and encouraging their child’s language and early literacy development through play. The Ontario government has provided a grant to support the employment of a provincial co-ordinator and a provincial bilingual advisor for the ASL and Literacy Consultant Program. Additionally, the regional Infant Hearing Program (IHP) centres may contract with ASL and Literacy Consultants to provide services to infants. If your child was identified as Deaf by the IHP, then your family is eligible for up to two years of ASL services from an ASL and Literacy Consultant.

Early Years Deaf Consulting Services: Designed as a resource for the Ontario Early Years Centres, these services help specialists to meet the early language and literacy needs of Deaf children across Ontario. The Early Years Deaf Consulting Services also provide workshops about language, literacy and storytelling for parents and families, including our new ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™. Support for these services comes from the Early Years Challenge Fund.

Resources: In the spring of 2004, OCSD published A Parent Guidebook: ASL and Early Literacy and the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ (DVD and VHS). This fall, we are publishing American Sign Language and Early Literacy: a Natural Approach for Communicating with your Deaf Child (DVD and VHS). We also offer other ASL and early literacy resources for parents and professionals, including our You and Your Deaf Child information sharing booklet for parents of Deaf children

The ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™

The original Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ was founded in 1984 by Joan Bodger (a therapist and storyteller) and Barry Dickson (a social worker and storyteller).(1) These individuals developed a program in Toronto for high-risk families based on the belief that the use of interactive rhymes could enhance the bonding process and provide parents with new resources for dealing with their children.(2) The Parent-Child Mother Goose Program’s™ efficacy in promoting family literacy, family well-being and children’s cognitive and language development is well-documented.

The Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ has been used with different languages from all over the world. The idea to launch a program in ASL for Deaf and hearing parents and young children first came from Joanne Cripps (Director of the Canadian Deaf Heritage Project for the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf and OCSD’s ASL and Literacy Provincial Co-ordinator), who met with Celia Lottridge, a storyteller/educator who was instrumental in establishing the original Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ as a charitable organization with an active board.(3) The first Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ training session for ASL and Literacy Consultants was held in January 2003. Two other training sessions were subsequently held for the ASL and Literacy Consultants to develop new ASL rhymes, rhythms and stories. (The ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ does not use rhymes and rhythms translated from English. We have, and continue to expand our repertoire of ASL rhymes, rhythms and stories. This development is important because of the extremely limited amount of young children’s ASL literature.)

Pilot ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Programs™ were launched in the spring 2004 in several locations (Toronto, Hamilton, Belleville, London, Oshawa, Milton, Newmarket). New programs are scheduled to begin this fall in Barrie, Owen Sound and Sudbury. OCSD has submitted a grant proposal to the Ontario Trillium Foundation to hold expanded ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Programs™ in locations across the province, and more program provider training sessions.

For more information about the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose Program™ and ordering resources, please contact Kristin Snoddon at or 905-897-6881 (TTY).


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