Marla Hatrak, PhD has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education with a Specialization in Public Policy and Advocacy and a PhD in Educational Policy, Leadership, & Management. She is dedicated to ensuring that deaf babies have access to both American Sign Language and English literacy so they are kindergarten-ready. She has since been involved with local, state, and national activities advocating for signed language acquisition and English literacy for all deaf children.
In 1994, Dr. Hatrak co-founded Alliance for Language and Literacy for Deaf Children (ALL for Deaf Children) in San Diego, sponsoring monthly book readings and holiday parties for deaf children and their families. Later in 2013, she co-founded Language Equity and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K), a California grassroot legislative effort to ensure that deaf babies get language milestones assessment starting at 6 months of age. The result was SB 210, currently a model for other states to pass their respective legislation. In 2017, she co-edited The Road to Kindergarten Readiness: Language Policy for Deaf Children Ages 0-5, outlining the issues of language acquisition and development of deaf children that impacted their K-12 academic success. In 2020, she coordinated a symposium and edited its proceedings, Re-Thinking Auditory Deprivation. More recently, she is the author of a training curriculum for Deaf Coaches to mentor hearing parents and families with deaf children.
Dr. Hatrak is also a researcher in Mayberry Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where they investigate how deaf adults and children process language through behavioral and neuroimaging studies.