About Us

ALSO is a small program doing great things! We have been serving the Ottawa community for over 40 years providing adult upgrading and family literacy support. ALSO is about building community, making changes and moving forward. We support the adults and families we work with to get a job, keep a job, prepare for education or training and to support their childrens’ successful transition to full time child care or school.


A world where parents of Deaf children can fully connect with and support their children through ASL as a common language.


Equip and empower parents of Deaf children with the support and tools they need to connect and communicate with their child through ASL.

Our Beliefs

The right of all individuals to access language in their mother tongue

The power of parents and family.

Start early.
Don’t wait and see.

Access to basic learning tools should not be cost prohibitive.

Parents have the right to be informed about language with no pressure or bias.

Program Pillars

This is the bologna in our sandwich, the cheese on our cracker, the jam on our toast; the key ingredients for ASL RAPP.

  • Every child can learn. Every parent can learn.
  • All children communicate. It’s up to parents and professionals to figure out how and what a child is communicating and build on that skill.
  • Each child is unique. Be willing to let the child teach and lead you.
  • Blending of methodologies and technologies is often required. Be flexible and open to different methods and modes of communication.
  • Children acquire language through interaction.
  • Development of communication takes time and patience.
  • Development of communication takes time and patience.
  • Children need to develop effective social skills. It is through language that children develop social, emotional and cognitive abilities that are critical to timely development in all developmental areas.
  • Families are critical for success. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers.
  • Cross disciplinary professionals must work together effectively.

Jones, T.W., Jones, J. K., & Wing, K.M. (2006). Students with multiple disabilities. In D. F. Moores & D.S. Martin (Eds.), Deaf learners: Developments in curriculum and instruction (pp. 127-143). Washington, DC” Gallaudet University Press.
Hands & Voices. www.handsandvoices.org. Communication Considerations A-Z

American Sign Language Reading and Parents Program (ASL RAPP)

ALSO adopted the Reading and Parents Program (RAPP) from Kingston Literacy over 20 years ago. We offered RAPP to low income and vulnerable families in the Ottawa area by partnering with Community Resource Centers and various family outreach programs.

Many of the Early Years initiatives focus on the child, offering support and resources for young children. RAPP focuses on the parent. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. RAPP builds the parents’ skill and knowledge so that they are better able to support their child’s learning at home. Our aim is to foster family communication and add strength to the parent-child relationship. Children are spending the majority of their time at home with their parents. RAPP invests time and resources in the parent, positively impacting the learning context in the home.

When the Ottawa Deaf Centre closed, ALSO was asked to take over the Deaf Adult Literacy program (funded by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development). We soon noticed a gap in terms of family literacy support for the Deaf community. We consulted with the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Centre to learn more about working with parents and Deaf children. ASL RAPP was developed in consultation with members of the Deaf community in Ottawa, the ALSO staff team and the Shared Reading Project (Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center). In those early days we were funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ottawa Community Foundation, and the Ottawa Deaf Centre Legacy Fund. We are very grateful for their support.

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A message from our Executive Director

“Parents and children need a shared language. One of the parents I know told me about how her son, Robbie, takes off the head piece of his cochlear implant when he doesn’t want to listen to her. One time he hid it and it took a couple of days to find it. Without ASL they would not have been able to communicate. Imagine all that parents and children miss out on if they aren’t able to share their dreams, fears, hopes, and experiences with each other. Our hope is that ASL RAPP will support ASL and English language learning in homes with hearing parents and Deaf children.”
– Kim Oastler

Our Donors

Ottawa Deaf Centre Legacy Fund

The Crabtree Foundation

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