Deaf communication


One of the first things hearing parents ask themselves when they discover they have deaf children is how they will communicate with them, and how, eventually, will their children communicate with the world. There are many factors to consider, including how much hearing remains, whether or not a cochlear implant will be an option, and whether or not the child has additional education issues. Proponents of each communication approach have what seem to be ironclad arguments as why their ways are the best.

Different signs

Although there are numerous forms of sign language, most countries have their own systems and America has several, the most popular is American Sign Language or ASL. ASL is a separate language apart from English and has its own grammatical structure. The library of different schools offers many resources on sign language. In as much as language and shared perceptions dictate culture, people who use ASL exclusively often live in tightly knit communities with their own traditions apart from the hearing world.

More about

Children trained with the oral and auditory verbal methods rely on their residual or restores hearing to make sense of the sounds around them. Cued speech is a sound-based visual communication system, which uses eight hands, shapes in four different locations in combination with the natural mouth movements of speech, to make all the sounds of spoken language appear unique and understandable to a speech reader. Cued speech has been used successfully in other countries and has been adapted to the sounds in different languages. SEE is similar to ASL, but some of the signs that are used are unique and not in common use among ASL users. SEE signs also try to incorporate English word endings such as plurals and articles in English word order.

Other device

Total Communication is a philosophy that each deaf child should use whatever method or methods best match their communication needs. There is usually a sign language component. Although these listings are specific to our library's area, most communities will have similar resources. An audiologist can fit your child with hearing aids. For small children, it is best to find someone who has specialty in pediatric audiology. Cochlear implants stimulate the hair cells of the cochlea, providing another channel of listening for the profoundly deaf. Most often those people implanted derive little or no benefit from the more traditional hearing aids. In our area, the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, and the Medical College of Virginia all have implant programs.

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