Indigenous Tribes First to Receive Innovative Early Childhood Learning Materials

December 17, 2020

Indigenous Tribes First to Receive Innovative Early Childhood Learning Materials
A Creative, Tactile Method of Learning to Spell and Read

Bellingham, WA – On Dec. 15, 2020, Dr. Joseph Garcia and Northwest Indian College Foundation (NWICF) mailed Dr. Joseph’s Fingerspelling Book to 500+ Tribal early childhood learning centers throughout the US. Other innovators working to improve the human condition are encouraged to follow suit and prioritize supporting marginalized communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted educational systems throughout the US, especially in areas of overlooked populations. Dr. Joseph’s Fingerspelling Book is a resource designed to help teachers and homeschooling parents engage first-time readers with a fun, tactile method of learning to read. This innovative learning tool will surely ease some of the difficulty for students and teachers during this challenging time.

Pre-schooler looks at Dr. Joseph's Fingerspelling Book

Generally, advances in education tend to benefit those in privileged circumstances first. Marginalized and overlooked communities receive the benefits if and when they trickle down. Dr. Joseph and NWICF want the Tribal communities to be the first to benefit from his early learning developments.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Joseph, known as the Grandfather of Baby Sign Language, developed a program for using sign language to communicate with pre-speech babies. This work has had a global impact. Dr. Joseph continued investigating how people learn language and express thoughts. “My research showed that about 58% of all learners respond best to tactile and experiential learning as opposed to absorbing information through a cognitive process alone. This revelation led me to develop Dr. Joseph’s Fingerspelling Book, a book that turns learning to spell and read into a fun, game-like experience that draws on the tactile and muscle memory aspects of learning,” Dr. Joseph says.

Dr. Joseph, an educational innovator, has joined the NWIC Foundation to help them raise $50 million for their endowment and Generations Student Scholarships Fund. He said, "I am so happy to offer this new learning resource to my Indigenous family."

Northwest Indian College, a prominent Indigenous university, is taking the lead with Dr. Joseph in this initiative. “The Northwest Indian College Foundation realizes the need for family activities during the pandemic and we also recognize innovative learning and the part it plays in our communities. For this reason, we have partnered with Dr. Garcia to get his learn-to-read program to all the nation’s Tribes.” -Greg Masten, Executive Director, NWICF.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph has pioneered the effort to improve communication between people since the 1980s. His experiences in the Deaf Community inspired his groundbreaking work. His books and programs on baby sign language, medical sign language, and fingerspelling for first-time readers are wonderful resources for parents, first response and health care professionals, children, and teachers. Learn more at

To schedule an interview with Dr. Joseph, contact Hannah Martine at or call (503)319-8277 or contact Dr. Joseph directly at (360)961-1306.


Dr. Joseph's Fingerspelling Book Cover

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