My goal is to be able to promote signed language acquisition for all of the diverse families with deaf children. Pediatrics, the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has come out last July with the following edict about deaf children learning American Sign Language:
Children need to learn language. They must learn it from parents, teachers, and their community. The more languages they learn, the better these children will be able to communicate. All children would be better off if their parents all spoke 5 languages and taught all 5 to their children;…Deaf children of hearing (and nonsigning) parents are unique among all children in the world in that they cannot easily or naturally learn the language that their parents speak. Hearing (and nonsigning) parents of deaf children are unique in that they are asked to learn, at least in a rudimentary way, a new and foreign language to communicate with their children. Some parents eagerly and willingly take on this challenge; others do not or cannot. As pediatricians, we need to keep up-to-date on the latest research, translate that research into language that parents can understand, and help them make choices that are best for their child, their family, and themselves. There are no risks to learning sign language along with spoken language, but there are well-defined benefits. For parents and families who are willing and able, this approach seems to be clearly preferable to an approach that focuses solely on oral communication (Mellon, N. et al, 2015).
I have this goal and hope for equity for American Sign Language (ASL) so that deaf children will become more Kindergarten-ready because they have healthy language development.
Thank you to all of my Diversity colleagues for all of the robust conversations during our weekly Discussions. Especially because I do not have the experiences of a classroom, I have learned quite a lot from those of you who shared their classroom expertise. As with all my previous Walden classes, I shall miss interacting with you all.
Mellon, N., Niparko, J., Rathmann, C., Mathur, G., Humphries, T., Napoli, D. J., Handley, T., Scambler, S., Lantos, J. (July 2015). Should all deaf children learn sign language? Pediatrics, 136, 170-176.