Learning sign language may not be as difficult as you think. Each day, hearing-deficient children and their parents around the world enter the intriguing world of American Sign Language.
Easier than Ever
Learning sign language was once considered an almost impossible goal by a number of people. There were many reasons for this. For one thing, sign language is a visual means of communication—far different from the spoken word. For another, it could be hard to convey idiomatic expressions in terms of sign language. In addition, sign language can require a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and drive, disqualifying those with less than a healthy amount of determination.
Some Positive Signs
Yet, learning this language can be far easier than you might imagine. To begin with, if a deaf child is born to deaf parents, he or she should be able to pick up the rudiments of American Sign Language quite easily — just as a hearing child learns the spoken word from hearing parents. However, if a child is deaf and the parents are hearing, the parents may end up learning American Sign Language along with the child.
It should be pointed out that there are other options aside from sign language for communicating with the deaf. These include oral means, auditory-verb means, and cued speech. The success of such communication methods often depends upon the time that the parents are willing to invest in teaching their children. Still, for social reasons, parents — both hearing and non-hearing — may decide that it’s best for their children to learn how to sign in order to ensure that they are steeped in deaf culture.
Starting Early Pays Dividends
It is best for a deaf child if he or she is introduced to American Sign Language early in life. In fact, the earlier the better. It has been shown that the initial six months of life are the most critical in terms of mastering language skills. Therefore, it is important that infants be screened for possible hearing loss. If a child is diagnosed with deafness early, his or her parents will have plenty of time to help the child hone communication skills.
Learning American Sign Language can be an important milestone in a deaf child’s life. It can help prepare him or her for school and for social activities. And it can help the child to develop the means necessary to make his or her needs known. Whether sign language is considered a child’s first or second language, it is definitely a language worth learning. Education of the brain is more important than education of the mouth and ears between the age of 0-8.