- Though no one in his family is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Joseph Garcia has always been interested by gestural language, and began studying American Sign Language in 1975. He soon began using it extensively in his personal and professional life, and eventually became a Certified Interpreter. Becoming involved with the Deaf community, he soon noticed that hearing children of deaf parents started communicating with sign language at an earlier age than hearing children did with spoken language. Intrigued by this observation, he decided to research early childhood language acquisition and the part sign language could play in the process, and chose this topic for his graduate thesis in 1986.
- As his research proceeded, he found a great deal of information on deaf children and their language development, but could find little on hearing children using sign language (i.e. hearing children of deaf parents, children with deaf siblings, etc..) He investigated the results of using signs as a method of early communication between hearing children and hearing parents, and how signing affected the onset of expressive language in preverbal infants. With the help of the seventeen families in his study, he learned that babies who are exposed to signs regularly and consistently at six to seven months of age can begin using signs effectively by the eighth or ninth month.
- During the last 20 years, Joseph was principal investigator for 109 private research grants. He has developed teaching and training materials for youth-related projects in the health care industry. He was appointed to and served two years on the Alaska Governor's Committee on Employment of The Disabled. He has continued to be active in the Deaf community.
- Joseph Garcia is the author of the difinitive book on signing with your baby and baby sign language using ASL sign; SIGN with your BABY. Joseph has also published: Medical Sign Language, Thomas Publishing, 1993, a translation resource for interpreters of the Deaf, Toddler Talk, published in 1994 by Stratton Kehl Publications, Inc.
- Joseph was recently awarded $254,000 by private foundations and corporations to develop a comprehensive course in American Sign Language for the medical industry. Joseph was also awarded the Bishop Foundation Youth Leader of The Year Award, a $10,000 award for creative innovative research and demonstration programs. He is frequently a keynote speaker at regional and national conferences.
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