Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) is a national non-profit membership organization promoting the welfare and growth of individual interpreters as well as the profession of interpretation of American Sign Language and English. In order to promote excellence in interpreting, all interpreters should demonstrate skill, knowledge, and ability through the attainment of certification.

RID expresses its unequivocal support for LEAD-K – the grassroots and research-supported movement advocating for state legislation promoting Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids to ensure they are kindergarten-ready. The type of language environment and the quality of interaction to which children are exposed during the first five years of life greatly influences the outcomes of their adult lives. The average reading level for deaf individuals at age 18 has remained at the 3rd or 4th-grade level for more than half a century (Morere, 2011). Research shows that language deprivation occurring during the first five years of life is a leading cause of reading, academic, and social struggles for many deaf children. (Baker, 2011)

This problem is compounded by early intervention and Pre-K programs for deaf children that rely solely on practices that promote the use of spoken language. Growing research shows that such practices are a barrier to the deaf child’s full access to a language-rich environment (Hall, 2017). LEAD-K legislation addresses this pervasive epidemic of language deprivation among deaf children by recognizing the equality of signed and spoken languages and establishing basic principles for state-funded services to track the language acquisition and literacy development of deaf children from birth to age five.

LEAD-K legislation creates a resource for parents to empower them to track the language developmental milestones of their deaf child. It also requires state agencies to select, disseminate, and provide training on professional assessment tools in ASL and English for use by educators who work with deaf children from birth to age 5. These tools help families and support teams to identify language delays early and appropriately intervene. To ensure more rigorous accountability from the service system, state agencies are required to publish an annual report of the language and literacy development of the deaf children in their state, from birth to age five. This will help stakeholders to identify where gaps in the service systems exist.

Acquisition of language from birth is a human right for every person. Through LEAD-K, the parents of deaf infants and children will have the necessary resources to make informed decisions pertaining to American Sign Language exposure and acquisition as early as possible. RID envisions a future where the linguistic rights of Deaf people are equal to those of hearing people. This position is also espoused by the National Association of the Deaf, the World Federation of the Deaf, World Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the United Nations on Human Rights.


Baker, S. (2011). Advantages of Early Visual Language. Research Brief No. 2. Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. Washington D.C.

Hall, W. (2017). What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: The Risk of Language Deprivation by Impairing Sign Language Development in Deaf Children. Maternal Child Health Journal.

Morere, D.A. (2011). Reading Research and Deaf Children. Research Brief. Visual Language & Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. Washington D.C.

Note: RID would be remiss if we did not applaud the exhaustive efforts of grassroots organizers and scientific researchers and the testimonies of children and adults who have worked to pass LEAD-K legislation in 19 states thus far. We hope that this statement of support can aid those who continue to do this very important and necessary work.