Families Facing Choices

Key Words: Information, Deafness Related Issues, Deaf Education

Amy L. Pack

Kent State University

Goldberg, B. (1995). Families facing choices: Options for parents of children who are deaf. ASHA, 37, 38-45.


Auditory/Verbal? Oral Approach? Bilingual/Bicultural? Three popular options, two parents and one deaf child. When trying to make this difficult decision, the parents need to ask themselves: What language should be the native language of our child?

Auditory/Verbal: Despite the degree of hearing loss, almost 95-98% of these children have some residual hearing. The philosophy is with early identification and amplification along with medical technology the child can be taught to listen and therefore taught to speak. This approach also requires incredible commitment by the parents.

Oral Approach: The goal of an oral school is to teach language competencies to be able to communicate with the rest of the world and to become independent members of society. This approach believes that since language is acquired at an early age, sign can be learned at a later age.

Bilingual/Bicultural: This approach to deaf education is a combination of ASL, language instruction, and English, both written and spoken as a second language. They help encourage a strong sense of belonging to the deaf community, but also feel comfortable in the hearing community and are aware of multicultural issues. In this program, the child's ability dictates the amount of time dedicated towards speech therapy and the focus is on developing the child to communicate and learn through accessible language/sign.

Just as each of these programs are different, so is each deaf child. "A lot of people think deaf children have trouble learning language. That's not so. They have problems getting access to language."

Key Point:

  1. Not every option is a possibility for every child. But, through early identification and educational placement along with concentrating on the child's strengths, that child has more possibilities to succeed.

    Uploaded by: Jessica Soltesz/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major