Every newborn delivered in Massachusetts receives a hearing test soon after birth. Now, families of those babies who are identified as deaf or hard of hearing will be able to participate in the free Family Sign Language Program designed to teach them to communicate with their child using American Sign Language.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is now contracting with the college and the Gallaudet University Regional Center, located on the Haverhill Campus, to deliver the program to families across the state.

“It’s very important that families who have children with hearing loss learn to communicate with their child as early as possible,” said Kathy Vesey, director of the Gallaudet University Regional Center at Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, Mass., in a January press release. “The earlier that a child is exposed to language, the better that child’s communication skills will become.”

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