How do deaf and hearing mothers regain eye contact when their infants look away?

Lynne Sanford Koester, Andrea M. Karkowski, Meg Ann Traci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The authors examine the effects that result when 9-month-old deaf and hearing infants break eye contact during face-to-face interactions with their deaf or hearing mothers. Of particular interest are mothers' responses when their infant looks away, and mothers' degree of success at regaining visual attention by using active bids in either the tactile, visual, or auditory modes. The authors also examine instances of maternal observing and waiting for the infant to reinitiate visual contact. For deaf infants, visual and tactile modalities are particularly important for communicating, interacting, and gaining information about their environment. While hearing parents have been shown to compensate intuitively for a deaf child's inability to perceive auditory cues (Koester, 1992, 1995), deaf parents may offer important insights into the use of other modalities to elicit and maintain a deaf infant's attention. Results of the study indicate a greater reliance among deaf mothers on visual strategies to regain infant attention, and a greater emphasis on vocalizations by hearing mothers, regardless of infant hearing status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Annals of the Deaf
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1998


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