What is the mode of communication between parents and children?

Ninety percent of d/Deaf children are born to hearing parents.(Anderson, 1992, Lane 1996) Many of these families have no experience with deafness or sign language.(Valentine, 1996) Parents of the d/Deaf African American child tend not to use sign with the child.(Aramburo, 1992, Lane, 1996, Christensen, 1993) Also hearing adults in general tend to use spoken English or some type of signed English to communicate with these children.(Christensen, 1993) This lack of visual communication can be a disservice to the child and their academic future.(Christensen, 1993) The child may not reach their potential in learning English and it's use.(Christensen, 1993)

Parents may not use sign language because they may not have access to classes or information on sign language.(Christensen, 1993) Many times parents may be in a period of grieving over their child's hearing loss, therefore neglecting the needs of the child.(Valentine, 1996) This lack of early communication may cause parents and child to be strangers, which is a loss of important support to the child.(Rittenhouse, 1990)

Many hearing parents tend to leave educating their child to the teachers and schools.(Aramburo, 1990) Yet, for d/ Deaf children of d/Deaf parents, they are fortunate in that, they tend to use sign language to communicate.(Aramburo, 1990) When the d/Deaf child is not getting the sign language and communication that is most natural to them, they will look outside the family to learn and develop communication skills.(Aramburo, 1990) This may be the staff at a residential school where they become a surrogate family to the child or it may be friends outside the classroom.(Aramburo, 1990)

Insight and Application: It is important that a child and parent be able to communicate. For d/Deaf individuals, the most natural mode of communication tends to be visual, which for many is American Sign Language (ASL). Deaf children, like hearing children need to be exposed to their natural language as early as possible.

Parents should call local organization and universities that offer sign language. For some parents, they may need the assistance of professionals that are willing to give a helping hand to parents who just don't know where to begin. Some parents lack confidence when it comes to asking questions of professionals or looking into services that are available to them. As professionals, sharing information that may be pertinent to the development of a child and the relationship with the parents is important.

Anderson, R. (1992). Black, deaf, and mentally ill: Triple jeopardy. In Conference Proceedings. Empowerment and Black deaf persons. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University.

Aramburo, A. (1992). Sociolinguistic aspects of the Black deaf community. In Conference Proceedings. Empowerment and Black deaf persons. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University.

Christensen, K. (1993). A multicultural approach to education of children who are deaf. In Christensen, K., & Delgado, G. (Eds.). Multicultural issues in deafness. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishing Group.

Lane, H., Hoffmeister, R., & Bahan, B. (1996). A journey into the deaf-world. San Diego, CA: Dawn Sign Press.

Rittenhouse, R., Johnson, C., Overton, B., Freeman, S., & Jaussi, K. (1990). The Black and deaf movements in America since 1960: Parallelism and an agenda for the future. American Annals of the Deaf,136, 392-400.

Valentine, V. (1996). Listening to deaf Blacks: They want community access and acceptance. Emerge, 7, 56(6).

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