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Activity D: Observation of Language Development

Participant Guidelines

The purpose of this activity is to observe and analyze the language of a young child with a visual impairment.


  1. Identify a child who is younger than 36 months with a visual impairment who has a vocabulary of at least 25 words.
  2. The following options should be used to locate a child: (a) obtain contact information from your instructor, (b) contact a family known to you, (c) post a request on a relevant listserv, or (d) contact a program for children with visual impairments.
  3. Remember that you should protect the confidentiality of the child and family that you observe and that you should use family-centered practices in your intervention.
  4. Make phone or e-mail contact to secure verbal agreement. Prior to the observation, secure written permission from the child’s caregivers to observe the child. Use the attached permission form as a guide.
  5. Observe the child in a familiar setting interacting with one to two familiar people.
  6. Script the interaction of all speakers during the observation. Scripting means writing down everything the child and the others in the observation say. Use short hand, abbreviations, and initials to keep up with the conversation. However, if you get behind, stop and pick up the scripting with the current conversation. Script at least 15 minutes of interaction. Within 24 hours, type your observation and notes.
  7. Review your scripting to look for communication patterns. Answer the questions below in a two to five page reflection paper. Remember to maintain confidentiality by using pseudonyms or initials in your paper and in your scripting. The reflection paper should also describe the setting, including participants, location, time of day, and types of activities observed. Your scripted observation and typed transcript should be attached to your paper.
  8. The assignment is due ________________________.


  1. Who initiated most communication?
  2. How many and what percentage of the communicative interactions did the child initiate? Give examples.
  3. How many and what percentage of the child’s communications were questions? Give examples.
  4. How many and what percentage of the child’s communications were statements? Give examples.
  5. How many and what percentage of the partner’s communications were questions? Give examples.
  6. How many and what percentage of the partner’s communications were statements? Give examples.
  7. How often did the child use imitation or repetition rather than an original communication? Provide examples.
  8. Were the communication topics present in the environment or were they imaginary or remembered topics?
  9. What strengths did the child demonstrate in communicating? Provide examples.
  10. What difficulties did the child experience in communicating?
  11. What was the most interesting thing you observed?
  12. What positive interactions did you observe?
  13. How would you have communicated with this child?
  14. What recommendations would you make to promote this child’s communication development?

Sample Permission Form

Name of child: __________________________

Name of caregiver: _____________________

Date: ____________

I, __________________, give my permission for _________________ to observe my child, _________________. I understand that this observation is for learning purposes only and will not be used for research or recommendations for intervention. Information will be kept confidential and pseudonyms will be used in the observer’s descriptions.

Caregiver’s signature: _______________________

Date: ____________