Sunday, July 22, 2007

It is a No Crying Shame to be in the Protest at AG Bell Conference

The purpose of the upcoming social awareness protest at AG Bell Conference on July 27th and 28th, 2007 at Arlington, VA will be discussed.

There has been a strong interest to form a Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC) expressed by the deaf community along with a list of goals shared by the participants to ensure that every deaf child has the right to access to American Sign Language from the start. For the focal point of this social awareness protest, the public needs to know from the media that there are eight benefits of baby signing that is used generally by hearing parents and hearing babies.

But the question is: why have a social awareness protest at AG Bell Conference? Play Quicktime Play YouTube

AG Bell has formed a partnership with Audio-Verbal Therapy group (AVT) group that advocates deaf babies who receives cochlear implantation to focus on unisensory stimulation only, and shuns American Sign Language throughout the process. Baby Signs are a growing phenomenon with research-based benefits and the greatest irony of all is that Deaf Babies are not allowed to sign during AVT sessions.

Now let’s look at why Baby Signs are being used to hearing babies. You may wonder what made it attractive for parents to use signs even though they can hear and that they have to learn signs?

Derived from the website,

The intellectual benefits of baby signing include:

1. Baby Sign Language increases the speed of the development of verbal language.

2. Baby signing increases vocabulary.

3. Baby signing reinforces the use of verbal language.

4. Baby Sign Language promotes language learning through concept.

5. Baby Signing reinforces a child’s communication attempts.

6. Baby Sign Language promotes early literacy.

7. Baby Sign Language increases interests in books.

8. Baby Signing promotes the early use of complex sentences.

Baby sign benefits extend to children over 3 years old also. Older children who used Baby Sign Language as infants and toddlers have better verbal and reading skills. Many parents use books along with teaching sign language. When you point to a picture and then show the sign for the word, both reading and communication skills are improved. Vocabulary is developed earlier and grows faster. The kinesthetic elements of signing reinforce verbal skills.

But what about speech delay if AG Bell asks?

Research shows that learning sign language does not delay speech, but in fact aids speech development. Most baby signers speak earlier than babies who do not learn baby sign language.

You can actually teach an infant Baby Sign Language, and it will promote the use of speech sooner rather than later. Language is conceptual.

Why are we not saying anything about poor deaf babies who are denied to sign language?

Now I hope you can see that this is a clear message that the DBC group is able to point out to the media.

This will be one of the demonstrations that will allow the concerned public to open up the dialogue and raise public awareness that will eventually get this table brought to a legislative level.

Now it is the time to protest for the sake of deaf babies who suffer the language deficiency just because organizations like AG Bell whose partnership is with AVT continue to spread the propaganda without the benefits of using signs.

It is evident that they are not being inclusive on explaining to hearing parents on how using signs with their deaf babies ages 0-4 years old are able to benefit greatly based on 8 points listed above. It is evident that there are multiple benefits for hearing babies using signs and that deaf babies are missing out these opportunities based on 8 benefits. Now we need to ask: Why is it that signs are still not part of deaf babies lives?

Never mind that lame excuse when parents were told it was difficult to learn sign language or that it was considered a foreign language to them. Because of today’s access to technology allows interaction online and with DVDs and that more sign language classes and Shared Reading Projects are provided to parents for free, this is no longer an issue. If hearing parents can do it with their hearing babies, why is it not possible to learn for deaf babies? It is only 80 dollars for DVD set. On baby signs found on Missy Keast's website. The quotes are taken from websites listed in the resource list below:

"The whole point of baby signs is not to raise IQ's. We're not in this for better babies in that sense - we're in this for better family interaction."

“Baby signs might also satisfy the great curiousity about what your baby is thinking.”

"Baby Signs" help brain development and problem-solving skills.”

Imagine being able to communicate with sign words before the age 1 or so. A stronger communication bond will occur between family members. It makes more sense to communicate first with signs since babies, hearing or deaf, have yet developed motor speech coordination skills. Why delay communicating with babies? Why wait for the baby to develop speech?

DBC believes that engaging in a social awareness protest can strengthen their campaign, attract press coverage and raise funds. It will also help open dialogue between our campaign and anyone opposing it.

Here’s what will happen in the protest:

Each participant will be wearing a shirt with the slogan on it. It would be:

“Why Hearing Babies sign BUT Deaf Babies Do Not?”

There will be no picket signs or posters since it interferes with our need to use hands to communicate. There will be leaflets that list the facts on the benefits of using signs in babies and how oralism failed most deaf individuals.

The participants will “chant” the slogan and they will be advised not to be offensive.

There will be a variety of media (newspapers, radio, television, internet) coverage taking place where social awareness of this conflict will be raised and shared to the public. Thanks to Aidan Mack, she will be filming the demonstration that will be shared on the internet through a variety of video servers also it will be made accessible to hearing viewers.

The idea of this demonstration will be small and simple since it is the first one. There will be no marches or permits required. There will be no abusive argument, or a fight.

The DBC is hoping to grow to make it more visible and larger in the future. Giving a deaf child language during the most formative developing age (between infant to 4 years old) increases their chances for communication and comprehension success in the world. As a non-profit political and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting Deaf human and linguistic rights, California Association of the Deaf has generously made it possible for you to make your donations tax-deductible. Visit and click on "support for Deaf Bilingual Coalition" on the left side of the home page. The success to make DBC to grow depends on your support. Please forward this link to your friends. Thank you.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment”. Robert Maynard Hutchins


Update: Please view Amy Cohen Efron's vlog on the Greatest Irony with voice-over


Oscar the Observer said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, when you look carefully at the research, it just doesn't hold up. And whe I say look at the research, I don't mean ABC's take on it -- I mean looking at the design of the studies, how progress was measured, etc. Any good researcher will tell you that any treatment is better than no treatment. A child who gets more attention, who is read to, who is exposed to language and engaged by a caretaker will show greater linguistic skills than a child who is not. It's as simple as that. Look at the signs that are used with hearing babies -- they represent vocabulary that babies will be exposed to one way or the other. Exactly how does learning signs for more, milk, wet, etc. Increase vocabulary later? It just doesn't make sense.

The One and Only Ridor said...

You rock, Barb!

If I was straight, I'd have you mine!

:-D Did I just make you blush?!



Davy said...


It is good idea to start with DVD set of baby sign .... that help a lot for who don't know any sign someone who live far away in small town or no where near that not available to go class so forth and ect....... My beleive it is big Key with DVD set to get start with help by in media or hospital in books store or deaf community in store books or DVD set to show them baby sign ASL improvement of skills can do!

First of all if doctor find out if baby is deaf then it should tell all doctors require as be nice in USA or even the world too ...that tell hearing parent to advice with start on DVD baby sign kits of several DVD CROM in good way benefit or credit for rest of the care the baby health mind as strong good to start to teach sign ASL in better communcation. That all I can think of better start off.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Your post makes a lot of sense and now I understand better.

It is too bad that some people still don't get it, like that second comment by Anonymous above.

Keep up your good work because I have seen plenty of oral deaf people that have said about their hardship life while growing until they learned American Sign Language and became a much happier person.

Like John Egbert said, "It takes one to know one"

Barb DiGi said...

Oscar: Thanks!

Anon: Well, I can verify that it does hold up because my deaf children are my living proof. It goes the same for deaf babies who acquire ASL as a first language as immersed by users that they are able to be sucessful when bridging ASL to English.

If you want to argue with the researchers, go ahead and take them up.

My deaf children defintely had a big advantage before they started to learn how to read, write or talk because they already had developed a strong language foundation beforehand. Thanks to having 100 percent access to communication through the use of ASL, they already have the knowledge and content understanding so learning a second language becomes a breeze for them.

It is pretty simple: Just use signs with deaf babies. It is just common sense and it does work. Believe me, I have been there myself as a deaf baby, as a teacher for the deaf and as a mother of deaf children. Take a look around deaf individuals who said the same thing as well. Thank you.

Ridor: Funny you! I am more of flabbergasted!

Davy: That's right. We live in a wonderful world of technology and DVDs make it more possible for parents to know sign language where they are able to have appropriate resources.

Anon: I am glad that this post helped you develop a better understanding of the protest. Let us unite for a good cause!

Anonymous said...

Hey Barb!

Why don't you and Amy Cohen Efron work together as the investigative reporters? I think you both are in the same background to dig the issues up! :-)

Wouldn't be nice to work together! Huh?

White Ghost

ASL said...

Why dont AGBell focus and training on hearing babies for voice? Of course AGBell could not solved hearing babies for earlier age so leave deaf babies alone and let ASL do that.

They know that and they don't care about deaf community so they care about their business running.

Look like over 100 years and not successful! ASL is successful big time and now hearing babies using ASL.

ASL worked on deaf AND hearing babies.

Cy said...

The way you explain how the protest will go sound like a good first step . Wish I could be there.

Deaf Socrate'sTrail said...

Well, You gave very informative! You presented well definition of the protest will be looked like! You challenge AG Bell and AVT's progranda. Good rhetoric!

Jon Savage said...

Barb DiGi!

I was concern about have a protest at AGB conference would be riot or something like that. Until, you explained about the plan. Wheww. I'm appreciate to see there will be professional attitude people by "George Veditz" group.

We will NEVER disappoint in G.V.!

Thank you for excellent message in VLOG!

Brian Riley said...

Anon (8:31 pm),

Your point at the end of your comment doesn't make sense. If a baby learns signs, then those signs *are* already items in the baby's vocabulary. The baby is *already* learning language.

Jean Boutcher said...

Speaking of the acquisition of language, perhaps you would like to recommend a list of readings to the media by noted scientists and biologists of the brains and language acquisiton.. It is my understanding that the book, "Sign Language in the Brain," will be published soon by Dr. Ursula Bellugi of the Salk Institute at La Jolle, CA. Bellugi has been studying deaf adults using sign language for more than 30 years.

Also, Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto has extensively researched for more than 25 years. Click "Interview: The Brain's Capacity to Learn Multiple Languages: Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto" and "Neural and Behavioral Aspects of Early Language Development Presenter: Laura-Ann Petitto, Ph.D." I will cite a part of the entry as follows: "Comparative studies of hearing and deaf babies in my laboratory, however, have revealed that the maturational time course, structure and content of early signed and spoken language acquisition are the same."

Petitto, whose lecture I attended at the 1880 Post-Milan Conference in the early 1990s, said that deaf babies' brains are sooooo plastic they can learn sign language and English at the same time. I have no trouble verifying her claim. Whereas hearing Americans are so monolingual, both deaf and hearing Europeans are multilingual. A Polish and a Swede, both deaf of deaf parents, knew five languages when they entered NWC. They learned English in Europe. They aced on reading comprehension while deaf Americans struggled because they came from mainstream schools where their monolingual teachers did not prepare them well.

Reporters would, for definite, become immersed in research on the works by Bellugi and Petitto to debunk AGB's theory which deprives deaf children of sign language.

Jean Boutcher said...

Post SCriptum:

Both Dr. Bellugi and Dr. Petitto
are very staunch deaf advocates;
sign language. :)

Deaf258 said...

I would love to be there at the protest!

It's great seeing more and more Deaf being proactive, rather than reactive, against AGB and AVT!

Let me know how it goes this weekend!!

LaRonda said...


I can't tell you how important this video clip was!!! I did not understand the AGB protest planned for this weekend. Now I GET IT!!! It makes perfect sense. You have done such a service in clarifying this for us all. I want a t-shirt!!! How can i get one? ;)

I look forward to Aidan's film. (hope she provides a transcript or captions so hearing people can see it and benefit.) I hope to see press coverage on this. I wish now that I could attend. I hope it goes as planned.

Best of luck!

~ LaRonda

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your own time to express supporting the DBC! I want to thank Aidan, Amy Cohen-Efron, Cy, John, CAD and you for researching on Bilingual!

Again thanks for the paypal link because I cannot go there to protest and hope that it will help the DBC to grow more bigger asap!

Jana Bielfeldt said...

Hey Barb! What a wonderful video clip. You made it very clear. I didn't understand before... now I do! I share some of your vlogs with my Deaf Community class this past few weeks. We have a good discussion about AGB organization and BiBi so on. Thanks for your time to explain all of this to us. It is very helpful esp through sign langauge like vlogs.

Anonymous said...



IamMine said...

Hey, Barb!

As usual, you rock! Pardon me for stepping out of line here for a second, but that blue shirt suits you! *clears throat*

While I’m still not comfortable with the protest at AGB convention, I do think it is extremely important that the message of baby signs for deaf babies get out to the media!

Like others, I look forward to the film done by Aidan so we’d see how it went!

I also felt a lot better when you clarified some things that had been discussed on various blogs and gave us an idea of how the protest would look like.

I don’t like the term, "protest" because of the negative stigma it carries – especially in the Deaf Community, unfortunately – and also the fact it doesn’t really apply to this situation – but more of a "demonstration".

One question came to mind, though – maybe it’s not the "point" but I’ll go ahead anyway.

It’s a convention for speech therapists, etc in the AVT field, so it’s their field to study in audiology and speech, right?

What does that have to do with signing? I understand the key is BABIES here, but suppose that’s not what they are there for?

We could have an ASL convention that has nothing to do with the speech or audiology – discussing various things that may or may NOT include babies.

Like I said, I agree that the message is very important to get out to the media and I do wish you all best of luck!

I sure as heck wouldn’t mind having you telling me in face going, "I told you so!" I’d welcome that very much. *grins*

That’s not even implying that if it didn’t go well, you’d get that instead – but like you said, it’s a learning experience!

Barb DiGi said...

White Ghost: (chuckling) Yes, we have been working behind the scenes talking about this topic. She is a great person to work with!

ASL: That's why it is important to spread this awareness to the public where people are able to see the light.

Cy: I am glad you see it this way. Someday we can join together for a bigger demonstration in the future. It is not going to be a one time thing so there will be more chances :-)

Deaf Socrate's Trail: Yes, it will be a challenge but I ain't afraid of the big bad wolf. We, the deaf community, need to realize the importance in advocating ASL for deaf babies regardless of their hearing level. There are benefits proven to hearing babies so why can't deaf babies have the same exposure especially that they are deaf!

Hi Jon! You are more than welcome :-) I am glad to know that my vlog helped clarified the air. I understand the concerns as I would feel the same way if I am not involved so it is important to make it clear on what the purpose is and how it will be operated. I know that George Veditz's spirit is behind us giving us hope and strength to run the mission.

Brian: (rim shot) Ditto!

Jean: Excellent piece of resource information that you have just shared. I used to study Bellugi's work back in college and I definitely will look into his new book. Thanks for the links and it is much appreciated. It will help us to defend that signed and spoken language acquisition are the same and how deaf babies are able to master in both languages at the same time so there is no harm in learning both languages. You rock!

Deaf258: Exactly is what we need to do: being proactive. Will definitely keep you all posted :-)

LaRonda: I am glad that my vlog helped clarified the purpose of the AGB protest. T-shirts will be re-ordered after the protest as John Egbert will post about the sales in his blog. Thank you for your support!

Anon 8:40: It is our pleasure to do the research for the sake of deaf children's future.

Jana: How neat. I am glad to know that you are enabling the discussions with your class. I would love to hear what they have to say. Perhaps share in your vlog sometimes since it is good to know what the others are thinking.

Anon 11:20: Smiling here..we all work together as a team making this possible especially with all of your support.

IamMine: Thanks! (chuckling about your feedback) Periwinkle is my fav color. I think the whole point of selecting a place where there is a conflicting view attracts media like honey to bees. Protest is never a comfortable thing to do or to feel but it is a type of social awareness that can be shared to the public through the use of media.

Hope I am able to answer your question here. Since audiologists, speech therapists, AVT professionals, etc. are focused on developing aural/oral skills only among deaf babies, they need to realize by adding ASL to deaf babies will be much more beneficial as studies have shown. I am hoping to develop an alliance with them where DBC can collaborate the partnership to encourage new parents of deaf babies to receive such information on signing to their deaf babies as well. Right now, parents of deaf children have been consulted by these people just to focus on aural and oral aspects as signing has been excluded by the AVT people. I am hoping that someday they will include the beneficial studies to parents about using signs to their deaf babies and where they are able to make an appropriate referral to a deaf consultant. Right now, parents, especially who have implanted babies/children, are not receiving this side of the information. This system has to change.

You are right, there is no guarantee on how the outcomes will look like so consider this as a progress and only the beginning. Protest, demonstration, social awareness event, etc. may give off a different impression but remains the same. It is like saying bilingual language which may turn off some people especially to politicans and say Bush (since it leads them to think about the negative experience with Spanish and English instruction) while saying dual language is much less offensive to some people but the bottom line, it is the same. We live in a funny world, heh?!

Anonymous said...

Well said!!! At the first, i did not get it until you tell us... and also I watched the play from CSUN "The Deaf Stone" it was also talked about AGB.. I understand clear about the history..

Thanks for sharing with us... smile


Anonymous said...

Can you help me to understand about between Bilingual education and Bilingual/biculture?

I image that ASL/voice should teach deaf children school.

Marijka said...

As I have said in other comments in another topic, the idea that hearing babies are learning ASL is pure fantasy. They are NOT learning ASL. They are learning a few signs, and the parents often, learning from books, don't even make the signs correctly. When the hearing baby begins to speak and becomes somewhat intelligible (like before age 2), the parents give up on learning new signs. (Isn't there enough to do with a baby in the house as it is?) I actually met a woman who was using baby signs with her baby but thought they were entirely different and unique signs from ASL -- something made up just for babies. She even argued this point with me. So even some who DO it don't even realize the connection with ASL.

And you say it is easy to learn to sign? Sure, it is easy to learn maybe 25-50 signs that are useful to a baby. But do you think the parent who does that actually constantly signs with his/her spouse and other children so as to really immerse the baby in sign? Heck no. They hardly know enough signs to carry on a conversation. They just talk to each other. In the mean time, the baby, being hearing, is overhearing plenty and learning/absorbing language that way.

A deaf baby of hearing parents is not going to overhear unless s/he has a cochlear implant. A deaf baby in a hearing family misses out on an awful lot (unless, of course, s/he has a cochlear implant.)

I know. I am a hearing parent and am raising a deaf child who has cochlear implants but who didn't always have them. Pre-implant, my husband and I immersed ourselves in learning to sign, and I like to think did an excellent job of it, but I know we still "cheated" by not signing each and every conversation we had amongst ourselves. We had two children and two stressful jobs. And though we were learning to sign pretty quickly, even 3 years into it, our skills were nowhere near as fluent or as sophisticated as our spoken English.

Advocate all you want for bilingual education, but don't fool yourself thinking this is what hearing babies are getting from baby signs. And if you use this argument during the protest, people attending the AG Bell conference will see it as nothing more than a somewhat pathetic and flimsy excuse to promote ASL and Deaf culture. In fact, it will appear that you are quite desperate in coming up with something.

Finally, the resource you quote, Barb, ( certainly is a comprehensive and helpful resource, but there is very little substantiation, hardly a reference to a lecture or a publication, that supports some of the claims made about its benefits for hearing babies. I am not doubting that they exist, but much of what is on that site is just the OPINION of the author.

I am sorry -- I know you wish it was otherwise, but hearing babies whose parents sign with them in their first year or two of life do not continue on to become bilingual. I have yet to meet a hearing parent who has continued to immerse their child in ASL beyond infancy. Everybody -- parents, baby -- just forgets all the signs. It's so easy to forget something you don't use all the time.

Marijka said...

Barb said, "Right now, parents, especially who have implanted babies/children, are not receiving this side of the information. This system has to change."

Barb, please do the following: contact your state's agency that follows up on each infant who fails newborn hearing screening and ask to look at the packet of materials that child's parents get. In my state, there is very little information about auditory/oral and the packet is almost 100% ASL and sign-oriented. The information about cochlear implants is very neutral. I think AG Bell would like to get at least something into those packets to make parents aware of the different options. The idea that parents are not receiving information about ASL is completely incorrect. They are getting plenty, at least where I am.

Do you know what convinces parents to seek an implant for their child? Nothing AG Bell says or does is as convincing as actually getting to meet children with cochlear implants. That usually does the trick.

David said...


I agree with Barb's comment. I do not see any point in your statement. The statement you made is very common. I stopped believing that a long time ago.

Yes, Barb is right about many parents who do not receive enough information. I myself already saw that. I don't buy your story.

Removing ASL from deaf children's life is a bad choice. We have seen so many of them (formerly oral ists and even still oralists) who have not done so well. They feel they are not a whole person at all because of lack of language development as well as their emotional and mental problems.

To prevent that, we encourage all deaf children to learn two languages(ASL and English).

We are trying to help parents. Sadly people do not listen to us. We have to clean up the mess they have left.


Barb DiGi said...

HI SnoopyFreak02: It is all about awareness for one to understand Deaf History. Glad you are able to learn about what Deaf history lies beneath us.

Anon 2:25: Actually, biculture is like a complementary good to bilingual. We cannot separate teaching culture when teaching ASL. I am just focusing on the linguistic rights for deaf babies. You may check on my archives on bilingual issues for more information and google around. The use of ASL needs to be used in the classroom without the use of voice to set up a distinct language since the use of ASL with voice becomes more pidgin signed english or causing "dropped" signs. Spoken English still have a place where some students may benefit when practicing with a speech teacher. So keep both languages SEPARATE is the key.

Marijka: Well, as far as I know, baby signs are spreading like wildfire but for them to master ASL depends on the surrounding environment if they are able to be given an opportunity to develop ASL. But again what would be the purpose for hearing parents to use ASL with hearing babies since it will not be perceived as a necessity.

You are right that some who use baby signs don't even realize the connection with ASL which is why it is relevant to educate the public that the use of such products promoted by Missy Keast who is a deaf mother using more ASL-related baby signs may help them realize the connection. Hence, my point of my blog is not about educating hearing parents of hearing babies but to show the benefits that can be applicable for deaf babies.

Using signs with babies are better than no signs at all. I have come to known some hearing parents of deaf children who have continued to excel in ASL because they made the effort to learn in ASL classes and you would be amazed how they are able to sign if I introduce them to you. Hearing people CAN learn signs just like deaf people can learn English. It takes practice and effort and believe me I have seen successful cases.

If a hearing parent is not able to master it but has used signs with their child(ren) when they are babies, that to me is what it counts. These deaf children should be able to have ASL fluent teachers or ASL fluent certified interpreters where they are able to develop explicitly in their language skills and take advantage of bilingual instruction to help them comprehend English more effectively.

You may say all what you want about the protest but you are missing the point. It is all about social awareness where some open minds will realize the importance of advocating the use of signs with deaf babies.

Desperate? Ok, let me see how can I use that word.

I am desperate for deaf babies to be exposed to signs nothing more. I am desperate for deaf babies to develop into better communicators with better literacy skills. So may I ask, what is wrong with providing both languages? It is unfortunate that some hearing parents tend to turn to the so-called experts rather than listening from Deaf adults. So yes we are desperate to be heard because hearing parents like you just brush us away and oppress our voices. I just hope you will someday understand the cause.

Actually there are a lot more resources about baby signs that include research documents with control and no-control groups. I am just providing the website as an example. You can take it up with them. Let me tell you something else from what I have noticed based on my observations, I have come to known a lot of deaf parents of hearing children doing well academically as it is becoming common that most of them acheive top of the class.

As a mother of two Deaf children, I already know what it is like going through newborn hearing screening and receiving information about sign language, cochlear implant, etc. so no need for you to tell me to contact my state's agency. Besides I have been in the profession for 15 years so I am well aware how it works in my state. Every state runs differently since it is their reserved powers to determine how the educational system works but the only part of the federal law involved was creating the IDEA.

From what I have known and seen the statistics (I am unable to provide it now but it was mentioned in the American Annuals for the Deaf) that most parents have been directed to doctors and audiologists and listen to consultants as they "market" the idea on cochlear implant. Tell me how is that deaf babies getting cochlear implant are on the rise? Anyway, it is not my point of my platform about cochlear implant. If that is so true for most states encouraging ASL in deaf babies (boy would I love that), I would not be doing this.

I would suggest you to study the history of AG Bell and try to understand their viewpoint. They have reached out to parents to convince them not to use signs. They have formed a partnership with AVT groups. Please read John Egbert's site for more information. Thank you.

DeafChip: Thanks for sharing your view. So you stop believing long time ago that oralism only method doesn't work because of what you have seen. Unfortunately, this is a common view by deaf people who have more contact with other deaf and hard of hearing people so they get to see the inside world more than hearing people.

David said...

Hi Barb,

I am not sure if I wrote right. I mean I stopped believing in oralism program when I was very young at school. I responded to Marijka's comment that just reminded me.


Marijka said...

Points well taken. I am aware of AG Bell's history, and in fact resisted becoming a member myself for a while. I have been a member, though, for about 5 years now and even became active recently in my local chapter. From what I have seen more recently, it is a kindler, gentler AG Bell organization. I actually came across some approximately 15-year-old issues of their magazine and was shocked at the propaganda in them. It has really changed for the better.

AG Bell did merge with Auditory-Verbal International about 2 or 3 years ago. I am aware of that. Did you know there is actually in-fighting within the oral deaf community (just like within the Deaf - ha ha)? There is some friction between those who insist auditory-verbal is best vs. those who advocate oral schools. A-V is all about mainstreaming and discourages oral schools, where the peers might not have natural speech and language like those in the mainstream. But I think the two camps have figured out how to co-exist peacefully.

You wrote, "Tell me how is that deaf babies getting cochlear implant are on the rise?" I will tell you how. It is because parents become convinced after meeting children with cochlear implants who blow them away with their speech and language. There are so many successful kids these days with cochlear implants, they are not hard to find. Please don't tell me there are a few model successes that get trotted out. Implants would not be taking off the way they are if it weren't for how well they work. There is no way I would have chosen one for my child if I had not seen it in action. There is no way I would have just taken someone's word for it.

You said in another one of your articles that deaf people can "fool" hearing people and that maybe parents are being fooled by their kids. Are you saying that my son is able to read my mind when I ask him a question from out of his line of sight from another room and he answers, or when he is sitting in the dark or in the car directly behind me? It's not all smoke and mirrors. Like it or not, the darn things really do work, and are having a profound impact on deaf education and society.


Oscar the Observer said...

Whoa, Marijka *smile*.

Let us all step backward and take a deep breath. *friendly chuckle to ease tension*

Anyway, look here. Barb was basically advocating for bilinguial education for Deaf children because ASL is their natural expressed language. If parents choose to implant their children, Barb is not arguing against that now. It is way off the topic, okay? She was simply explaining what will happen at the "protest" that she explained clearly is not really a protest but simply a conscious raising get-together for reaching out to media to present that AGBAD should NOT block deaf children from talking in their natural language just because they are implanted. It is simple as that. They will simply ask, "Hey, hello, people. You allow hearing babies to learn some signs from ASL that will only be their second language if they ever stay with it when they grow up but block FIRST LANGUAGE from deaf children just because a machine is implanted? How stupid can that logic be?"

So let us take a deep breath and realize Barb's real point here, everyone *big grin*.

Marijka said...

Grin, grin, Oscar! You are not winning any points with me with your vocab: machine, AGBAD ... ha ha very funny. Where do you pick this stuff up anyway? :-) And not sure I buy the "natural language" bit. (yeah, have heard it before) Why does my kid not want to use it even when it's not denied? Maybe because it feels unnatural now, thanks to the "machine"? And I don't know that AGB ever made a position statement for or against sign language for hearing babies. So it's all a moot point, this hearing baby sign discussion. A contrivance.

Oscar the Observer said...

CI is a machine. AGBAD is a whole acronym of Abraham Graham Bell Association for Deaf.

So you are saying that you reject the fact that sign languages are the natural languages of deaf people, yes? If so, then we are coming to the crux of the problem.

Oscar the Observer said...

"Expressed by hands and face rather than by voice, and perceived by eye rather than by ear, signed languages have evolved in a completely different biological medium from spoken languages. Used primarily by deaf people throughout the world, they have arisen as autonomous languages not derived from spoken language and are passed down one generation of deaf people to the next (Klima and Bellugi 1979; Wilbur 1987). Deaf children with deaf parents acquire sign language in much the same way that hearing children acquire spoken language (Newport and Meier 1985; Meier 1991). Sign languages are rich and complex linguistic systems that manifest the universal properties found in all human languages (Lillo-Martin 1991)." Cited from page 336 of Linguistics of American Sign Language: An Introduction Fourth Edition by Clayton Valli, Ceil Lucas, and Kristin J. Mulrooney.

Marijka said...

Oscar said "CI is a machine. AGBAD is a whole acronym of Abraham Graham Bell Association for Deaf."

Duh :-) But I am aware that both are used with negative connotation. No member of AG Bell calls it AGBAD. Only militant Deaf do.

Signed languages ARE the natural languages of deaf people -- no denyin'. But are people who hear with cochlear implants actually deaf (while their "machines" are on?) Is sign language the natural language of a cochlear implant user? In my direct, daily observation of one such person, I would conclude that it is not. Turn it off and he still will choose to talk.

Is this all really about babies or is it actually about preserving ASL? I think that is the crux.

Oscar the Observer said...

Connotations aside, thank you for clarifying your position.

Judge Barb, I rest my case *bow away*.

michele said...

Hi Barb, sorry to be late in getting my comment in, sigh! (Vacation)

Anyway, Ive been reading this with great interest.

I grew up in a Hearing family. My mother was and is still the only person who signs with me. I have to write back and forth with my dad and brother. While growing up, I used to lipread my dad and brother but now they are so hard to lipread so this is why.

My question remains:

How are we going to implement a plan for ASL instruction for the whole hearing family. Cuz you will be having people ask you this question and we need a plan. And with fathers who work away from home, even mothers too, they may have a large family, learning ASL may present some obstacles for them. Or if they were poor and could not afford to learn ASL or speak a different language. Many things to consider here. Its not easy to learn ASL if you are not exposed to it everyday so how can we make it more attractive and beneficial for families to learn, especially fathers? This is cruical point as this is why many parents are tempted to get CI for their children because they think its so hard to learn ASL, not enough time and all that so how can we thoroughly "convince" parents and siblings to learn ASL? Do you have a plan in place? Just wondering.

David said...


You have forgotten that a huge majority of deaf children could not do well with oralism and AVT program with or without CI. There is no back up plan for them. I think that is irresponsibility.

All deaf children (with CI or without CI) need SAFETY NET. Currently many do not have that. BiBi program is safety net for all deaf children.

We have taken care of the mess that oralism and AVT left. We do not want any money or anything. We care about your children and their family and we want your children to be happy in safe environment.

BiBi program is safety net for all Deaf children. They will grow up naturally and healthy. That is all we ever want.


Anonymous said...

The correct link to John Egbert's website is

Cy said...


Missy Keast uses her older hearing daughter in some of her DVDs where she signs. She is the curly blond girl around toddler age. She is fluent in ASL for her age - better than my own 2 boys, actually. Her husband is hearing and he signs to his hearing children all the time. What more proof is needed??

And...I don't think Amy is really a mother of CI children. I suggest you to read the comments section of my post on Amy. I think she is some kind of a professional masquerading as mother of CI children trying to prove that CI is the answer to all the problems related to deafness and to discredit ASL. She may be lurking to collect information on the demonstration at AGBAD conference. It's just my gut feeling.

Jean Boutcher said...


I agree with Michele (see above) that some hearing parents push CI because they feel that it is hard to learn ASL. NIH researchers use an excellent approach (ploy?) by telling hearing parents that their children's IQ would become stellar if parents learn Baby Signs.

Some parents sell their souls to the Devil because CI Corporate puts them on their payroll for advertizing about CI -- unbeknowst to the media.

Jean Boutcher said...

Oh, one more thing: Linguists Robert E. Johnson, Scott Liddell,
and Educator Carol Erting have a
paper, "Unlock the Curriculum,"
to ask that all deaf children be
exposed to ASL.

Anne Marie said...

It is more realistic thing to do for CI children to attend a large numbered ed program using ASL and English than to expect parents to be fluent in ASL. Many CI wearers (those who benefit the technology) can do well acquiring spoken English skills at home, more favorably with a smaller group of speakers. At school, they get exposed to better ASL model signers and also still get good training in speech-auditory skills as they become bilingual this way.

I rather to say that deaf/hoh children are born to be bilingual than to say they need ASL to fall back on it. This logic indicates that ASL is a "crutch" whereas it is simply a natural language for anyone exposed to good model users over time.

Marijka said...

Cy -- Amy is a real person, not a CI saleswoman! (Ha ha -- that's funny.) I recognize her from a listserve. She has some strong views, but is a good mom.

Here's a question: If ASL is so easy to learn, why does a child need to learn it just to fall back on? Why can't they just start learning it once they really need it (e.g. CI fails forever and can't be fixed)?

Also, could someone provide me with some history (or a web link) about the bilingual/bicultural approach? When my child's deafness was identified (in 1998), no one ever told me about it. I heard about oral, Total Communication, ASL/voice off. Is bi/bi relatively new? Does it include voice and hearing or just written English?

Susan said...

good vlog, Barb. Please keep us updated on how the protest went :)


Amy said...

Cy, I'd be happy to email a picture of my boys and myself... and it would be pretty obvious that it isn't faked-- since both boys have bilateral CIs.

I do not believe that any manufacturer puts any parents on their payrolls. Calling the manufacturers "devils" isn't going to win over any parents, btw. I have been involved in groups of parents of CIs for over 6 years now, and I've never, ever heard of manufacturers paying parents. They simply do not have the money for that, as far as I know.

The only reason I do this is to help other kids whose parents are looking into CIs. I want them to know how successful they are. They are ROUTINELY successful if the child is an appropriate candidate. Implanted kids function as hearing because they hear, it's very simple. Audiologists refer to it as similar to being mildly hearing impaired (meaning, while it is not the exact same as biological hearing, it uses much of the same neural pathways and is a close approximation). Since my son speaks without a trace of accent, one can easily assume that what he hears is quite close to that which a normal hearing child hears. And, since he can answer complex questions while not looking at your face, he obviously is not faking his grasp of conversations.

No safety net is needed because the cochlear implant is not about to "go away." For bilaterally implanted kids, there is not even a drastic "down time" while waiting for reimplantation because they continue to hear on one side. Studies of kids who have had to undergo reimplantation due to damage to their device have shown that the new ones work well within a short period of time. Not only that, but even without the CI the kids who are fluent in English will stay fluent. They do not suddenly lose their language if their CIs are off. It's not as though it is worse than it would be for an ASL speaking kid in a non-ASL oriented world. Both the ASL using child and an implanted child have to learn coping skills when they are around others-- the ASL child will not be able to speak to many people in society and the CI child will have to deal with times when they play in the water, etc. Of course, they are working on waterproof devices, so it's only a matter of time, and they are also working on fully implantable devices, so it may be that even sleeping will not be an issue in the future. Or, perhaps hair cell regeneration will come about before that is realized. The reality is that you don't "lose" you language by not having your CI on.

There is no reason that ASL should not be preserved, but it is not necessarily the best tool for deaf children who are CI candidates. Those of who have chosen to teach our children the language of their family should not be considered evil simply because we want to share our lives with our kids, any more than ASL speaking parents would be demonized for wanting to communicate with their own children. To tell a middle aged parent to learn another language... and that it will be their child's "natural" language... and that their identity is tied up in it... well, think how you would feel if we told you to halt your ASL using and begin the oral methodology for yourselves immediately so as to teach your children? Would you successfully do so?

Jessica said...

How much time does it take for a parent to invest to make sure their child is speaking well? In other comments, it was said that the successful ones usually had more involvement from their parents and SES (not sure what that means?) than the less successful ones. Expand more on that. How involved does the parent need to be? What does it take to help make it more successful?

Would that be the same as a parent being involved learning ASL?

Brian Riley said...

"Mildly hearing impaired"??

Sorry, I don't believe it. CI's provide synthetic, not authentic hearing. There's no way that it's like being "mildly hearing impaired."

That's a "blue sky" type of dreaming and salesmanship. I don't buy it.

Jessica said...

Also other question...your sons can watch TV without captions, even when the persons talking are turned away? When in training, the mouth is covered to help practice picking up speech, what about real life situations like suppose, the child is sitting in a different room or facing away from a conversation that is brought out of the blue, will the child understand that? NewsHour is one program I would prefer to listen to than sit and read the captions. Will a person with a CI be able to listen to this kind of thing and do other things?

When they are ready to start school, do they have a special resources person to work with them one on one? How do they do in group work in school when different students are talking or do they have to adjust to make sure the child is following the discussion such as in small group work or in classroom discussions?

What about on the telephone? I happen to know some unimplanted HOH who consider themselves culturally deaf and some grew up in deaf families and went to deaf schools and grew up with ASL be able to use the telephone.

Marijka said...

Answers for Jessica:
I think you are asking Amy, but I can provide some data too.

"How much time does it take?" It took my child about 3 to 4 years after getting his implant to catch up in spoken language and to speak clearly. He was in special schools during this time, but started attending our neighborhood school after kindergarten. (So in our case, the same amount of time as getting up to speed in ASL.)

He does have a teacher of the deaf that sees him at school 2 times a week for 30 minutes each time. She works on higher level language (idioms, multiple meaning words.) He does not get speech therapy because he doesn't need it. He does not have an aide or interpreter. He is able to learn like the other kids in the regular classroom.

He can use a regular telephone. He is most comfortable talking with people he knows, but will call up friends for playdates and will answer calls if he is home alone and recognizes the name from the Caller ID.

My child hears really clearly. He and I can converse in complete darkness just as easily as in the light. He scores 100% when using hearing alone (no speech-reading) in quiet, but only 25% if just speech-reading is presented (that is no sound, only visual). So he doesn't even know how to read lips any better than a hearing person. (His CI-aided audiogram is pretty flat and around 15 dB across all frequencies so also in the mild loss range.)

We do use captions at home. My son likes them. If the sound quality is good and there is no background music, he can understand the TV without them. But we all like the captions so we usually keep them on except for sports, because they get in the way of the action sometimes.

Cy said...


Picture doesn't tell us anything - your boys could be hearing for all we know.


Do you know Amy personally? Have you met her in person and met her sons?

Like CI, for it to succeed, the implantee needs to be exposed to sounds, the younger, the better. The same principle applies to ASL. ASL is not a communication mode that one falls upon like a safety net if CI fails. It is a language all by itself and natural language for most deaf people. It seems to me a lot of hearing people view ASL as merely a communication mode.

Yes, BiBi is relatively new - launched by Dr Nover who is still collecting data. He started with just 3 schools - Indiana, New Mexico, formerly headquarters, and California-Fremont. Now some 15 schools have since joined, including my school. ASL needs research and data. Amazingly, ASL was never properly studied, researched, collected for data, and my guess is because there has always been an ongoing battle among professionals which approach works best and should be the tool of instruction in classrooms.

People begun to look at the group with the strongest English - DODs - Deaf children of Deaf adults. Deaf born to deaf families who were exposed to ASL environment since birth. They realize there must be something to set this group apart from 90% of the deaf children across the country. They begun to study this group, myself included, as a child. I was videotaped all throughout my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades.

From a collection of data from different schools, it was enough to get a grant to begin a formal research group homebased at New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe. It started out as Star School Project and now has since changed to CAEBER and moved to Gallaudet.

Marijka said...

No, I don't know Amy in person but have corresponded with her on a listserve we have both been on for a while. I have never met her children but have seen videos of them.

A long time ago, I visited the school in Santa Fe when visiting my friend who lives nearby. It was not as a potential placement for my child, just out of curiosity. (My friend has a connection to the school because she sometimes does science demos there in the high school.) I met a young boy (only about 4 years old) who was DOD and his fingerspelling ability was amazing (his name might have been Emil -- he made that strong an impression on me that I remember.) I am not surprised that DOD kids do well, being exposed to language from the very start. I have heard that before though.

But kids who get CIs at a young age and are able to hear spoken language, and do well also. It has only been a short while that children have been getting cochlear implants at age 1 and earlier, so not a lot of time for studies. My child (who didn't even get an implant at that very young age) has a solid grasp of spoken English both expressively and receptively. He is at/above the mean compared with hearing children his age. (He is having a playdate right now with a hearing friend and they are talking about Pokemon, a subject with its own, rich vocabulary.)

Anonymous said...


"your boys could be hearing." So what. Her boys isn't yours. Stop to push her boys who must learn ASL.

Devil's Advocate said...

Let's grant Amy and Maijka theirs points. How about this? Will their children grow up to choose ANY career they REALLY want to be in? Suppose one of them turns out to want to be in military for lifelong career, will he/she be allowed to do so? An emergency room doctor, policeperson or fireperson? Will the CI technology advance sufficiently that it effectively disappear from people's perception because of implantee's seemingly hearing-like status? If yes, then how can the Deaf community protest effectively against those possibilities since hearing people actually DO believe that being deaf is a disability to one sense, whether the community likes it or not?

Anonymous said...

Devil's Advocate makes good point.

I notice the deaf child of parents are very challenge to deaf people when they fiercely protective of the deaf child.

J said...

I'm in total agreement with you. I am the owner of the site that you mentioned.

I am Deaf. My hopes are to educate hearing parents of DEAF babies. When they see all the wonderful benefits extended to hearing babies, I want them to realize how much this will help their Deaf babies and children prosper.

I am in the midst of creating a second website for just that reason.

It will be ONLY for hearing parents of Deaf babies and children.

If you have any interest at ALL in contributing to this new site, PLEASE do contact me through my contact form at

Look forward to hearing from you or anyone else who is with me on this!

Thank you for your time and thank you for creating this awareness that Deaf babies need and will continue to need.

With deepest sincerity,

MJ Williams

Barb DiGi said...

Devil's Adv and to everyone:

The whole point of the protest is not about focusing on the post-infancy period, it is about exposing the use of signs to babies the minute after they were found to be deaf. At that time, they have not developed listening and speech skills so why wait?

Thanks to infant screening tests that help parents to be aware of their baby's deafness, no time should be wasted in between cochlear implants. For example, suppose you discover that your baby is deaf at day 2, you should not be withholding signs until they reach at the age 18 months or whenever they are ready to get implanted or use hearing aids. Just use signs to communicate with your baby during that period which will enable their stronger language development. Why are you being so resistant to this if it is been shown to a great advantage?

Marijka made a good example that she used signs with her infant at the age 14 months and that is what we want to see to happen where all babies have access to communication. I am happy to know that her deaf child is doing well and functioning at an advanced level even more than her child's peers. It made me wonder if the use of signs at an early age plays a role in promoting her language skills.

I don't have a problem with the idea for implanted children to continue develop their listening and speech skills. But I do have a problem when leaving deaf babies out of communication loop just before they are able to hear with their implants and develop speech skills. Heck, hearing babies are not able to use their vocal chords properly at that period anyway which is why Baby Signs are popular for them.

Just expose deaf babies signs when they are not able to hear. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

That’s reason that their parents of deaf child have to protect the proponent of Bi/Bi from threaten to oral traditions CI Children and their parents of deaf children and they tried to tell deaf people who didn’t listen to them. It went worse and started a fight.

I have to agree with what you said but it is sad.

Susan said...

FYI, Amy, Marijka and others,

I do know of some young children whose teachers of the deaf (hearing and unbiased) say CI failed them.

They are the ones that we are looking out for, since their language are delayed, not having ASL in the first place (being denied by AGB) and still unable to understand English. We can't turn our backs on them for the sake of success of a few others.

What is wrong with having ASL? Why all this resistance even if ASL will make communication so much easier? It's a natural language for the Deaf in that we don't strive to learn the language as it is visually fully accessible. It's a rich language in its own right and can be used to assist in English, as Barb shared.

Sometimes I feel this resistance to use ASL, is because the hearing people, such as AGB and parents (some of them) don't want to learn a new language. Perhaps they don't want their deaf child learn a different language other than the parents' native language. What other explanation could there be with their resistance when we are aware of the advantages in learning ASL as proved by research? Even hearing babies are encouraged to use them!

One reason might be lack of information, and this is why there is the protest, to inform people that ASL is a wonderful, all-encompassing language, a perfect tool for developing English for those who are born deaf (as well as a natural language in its own right, as any other languages).


Marijka said...

Sigh... Susan, I think it is because hearing parents quickly see that their child with a cochlear implant can hear well, that many of us drop signing. There is a lot for a parent to learn when it comes to teaching a child to listen and speak as well. It takes a lot of time and energy as well. To invest time in both that and ASL is a lot, so that which seems less necessary perhaps gets dropped.

Successful children have parents who strive to help them regardless of whether they choose ASL or spoken language. I have no problem with my son learning ASL. If it is his decision to do that, I will support him in it. He already knows some, so it will not be hard for him.

And why don't Deaf parents get CIs for their kids to give them more options for who to communicate with? Why not? What is wrong with it? What if Deaf children resent their Deaf parents later for not giving them the opportunity to learn to speak well when the technology was available when they were small and their brains could adapt to it well? When there was a chance for them to be truly bilingual. Won't they be upset that they have to put up with crap like condescending hearing people, incompetent interpreters, and other annoyances from people who just don't GET IT, when all that could have been largely avoided? Why not give Deaf babies the opportunity to hear? What ARE you afraid of anyway? (Now that you read that, you can maybe understand how hearing parents feel when they are told they are no good for not teaching ASL to their kids.)

Marijka said...

Barb wrote: "For example, suppose you discover that your baby is deaf at day 2, you should not be withholding signs until they reach at the age 18 months or whenever they are ready to get implanted or use hearing aids. Just use signs to communicate with your baby during that period which will enable their stronger language development."

(Eyes rolling to back of skill) I can't believe I am reading this advice because THIS IS WHAT A LOT OF HEARING PARENTS DO ALREADY!!!! What makes you think they don't? My guess is that more hearing parents do start signing with their babies than do not. Parent-infant programs generally do teach parents to sign. Parents DO have access to sign.

Cy said...


When I told Amy her boys could be hearing for all I know, it is in context when she said she'd be willing to send a photo of herself with her son to which I replied a photo would not prove anything. For all I know, the photo could be of anyone - any mother with two boys, myself included since I have 2 boys. And these boys could be hearing, not deaf. That was the whole point.

I think you misunderstood the context of the message.

Barb DiGi said...

Interesting link for you all to read about a:
hearing mother of an implanted child:

"So, even when an ASL consultant became available, we didn't pursue it. Then, Aiden started having trouble with fluid in his ears, and his Cochlear Implant surgery was postponed, and postponed and postponed. We started to realize - this child is going to be 2 years old, and we have no "real" way of communicating with him! So, we got busy trying to learn some ASL on our own, and contacted Sir James Whitney again about hiring an ASL consultant.

And, 3 lessons in, we are SO glad that we did!! We really, really like our ASL consultant. Plus, Aiden seems to have a real connection with her. Especially in our first lesson, he really seemed to get that she was trying to communicate with him in a way that he could understand. And, the lessons are helping us out a lot with our Signing as well. We are quickly learning that the Sign Language that you can learn from a book is quite different than Sign Language actually in use. Our consultant is very animated, and we never realized what a big part of Sign Language facial expressions are.

Plus, I don't know why this never occured to me before but, I think that it is really great that Aiden has meet someone else who is deaf. As he has be born into a hearing family, I think that a connection with someone else who is deaf will be important for him.

So, slowly but surely we are picked up some Sign Language. It is hard to get in the habit of showing Aiden signs for things, but we keep at it. I think teaching a child ASL would be a lot faster if the parents used it as a first language, and it was second nature to them. We really have to think about saying things AND signing them -and we don't always remember to do that.

I think that, even after Aiden's Implant, we will continue to keep up with some Sign Language. Aiden is still a deaf child. And, when the implant is off (ie: when he's swimming, bathing or in the night) it will be nice to still be able to communicate with him."

Marijka: I will get back to you about your questions :-)


Devil's Advocate said...

Ok, Marijka, then you are saying that it doesn't matter if some parents don't bother with using signs before surgery appointment because a deaf baby will grow up to be just fine with the training that comes after implanting CI?

If so, then why do parents NOT bother to use signs in the first place?

Marijka said...

Devil's Advocate: Yes, some parents don't bother to learn to sign. Their child gets hearing aids at 2 or 3 months, and the parents talk, make sounds, get the child to attach meaning to sound, even though that sound quality may be poor. Sound quality improves dramatically after the child gets CId at around 12 months (the most common age these days.)

Yet other parents use a methodology (Auditory-Verbal) that focuses on listening primarily to develop the child's ability to listen and discourages any visual cues (signs or speech-reading). I know many children who have been successful with this method. When I say many, I mean I personally know at least 2 dozen (and more if I can include children like Amy's who I have never met but have read about and seen videos of.)

And yet other parents, probably a majority, do start signing a bit. Having seen how well the CI works, I would not worry that this early signing would interfere with learning to listen prior to the implant, and would only help to boost language, but that is my opinion. My opinion is also that after the CI, signs become somewhat irrelevant.

Yes, I do think either way, the baby will be fine with the CI, assuming parents make sure it is programmed properly by the audiologist on a regular basis, the child wears the CI all waking hours, and the child/family gets some therapy (important mostly for the parents to learn how to teach the child.)

C said...

Marijka, you said: "My opinion is also that after the CI, signs become somewhat irrelevant"

Not quite so. It does depend on many factors such as where does your child plan to get his/her education? and so forth. I know there are CI users who are totally immersed in the hearing world, yet there are so many who eventually end up choosing to be part of the deaf community later on in life. It's not irrelevant for a child to continue to learn signs after getting a CI. Consider it the same as having your child taking up several foreign language. The thing here is ASL is a true natural language for the deaf. A CI child is still deaf in many respects and will never be considered "hearing". With that in mind, why deprive a deaf child with a CI, a true language that will expose them to all things possible?

Many older CI implantees who had their CI installed as a child are more comfortable in the deaf community when it comes to the social aspects of their life. I've personally met many of them.

Do you want your child to come to you one day and say "Mom, why didn't you expose ASL to me?"

ASL for many new parents of a deaf child is a stigma. It shouldn't be that way.

C said...

I forgot to add one more thing, many parents of CI child (The ones that are adament that their child never learns ASL) will do everything they can to steer clear of deaf people but many CI eventually meet deaf people later on in life and they become curious, thus, their journey into deafhood begins. Happens too often.

Marijka said...

C said "Many older CI implantees who had their CI installed as a child are more comfortable in the deaf community when it comes to the social aspects of their life. I've personally met many of them."

Yes -- I have met them as well. But I think what some people underestimate is the dramatic change that has occurred in the last decade. Cochlear implants have improved and children are getting them at a younger age. So I don't think you can necessarily extrapolate from the past. A person who first got an old model CI at age 7 in 1992 is not at all comparable to someone getting a current one at age 9 months today. It's a whole different world in terms of outcome, and it has to do with the development of the brain (what the upcoming AG Bell conference is about).

But as I said, if my son wants to learn ASL, that's fine with me. I'd start learning again too if that is what he wanted. He would be comfortable telling me that's what he wants. We have a good relationship. While I wouldn't be surprised if he at some point wanted to take an ASL class, given that he has some background in this area, I doubt he'd make it his primary language. He's already completely comfortable and fluent in English.

C said...

The use of ASL has been proven to be beneficial for children in a wide variety of settings, also proven to benefit children in their later years.

Research shows that ASL hastens speech development, reduce frustration by giving them a means to express themeselves before they know how to talk. (This is excellent reason why CI children should be exposed to ASL!)

A 2000 study funded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, shows that children who learn sign language speak sooner than other children

and in the following website there is information on Research that reveals some unexpected benefits of ASL. Researchers believe ASL provides a solid language base on which to build a second language. There are studies that support their claim:

Research shows that using sign language in early childhood literacy programs increases vocabulary, improves letter and word recognition, helps young children focus on learning, and enhances communication.

These are proven research. If it benefits hearing kids, we know for a fact it benefits deaf kids, why not expose it to CI kids?

What is Bilingual-Bicultrual?

In that site Authors of a book "Communication Strategies - American Sign Language (Bilingual/Bicultural) has a lot of interesting information. It explains what it means to be BI BI. Basically it is a person who is bicultural and can move freely within and between two different cultures. The ability to use two different languages. Deaf are considered Bilingual if they are able to communicate effectively in both ASL and English. They are considered Bicultural if they are capable of functioning in both the deaf community and the majority culture.

Barb DiGi said...

I am making C's links clickable:

National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development

ASL provides a solid language base on which to build a second language

Enhancing Early Literacy with American Sign Language

Bilingual/Bicultural info

Great links, C! Thanks!

C said...

Marijka: "A person who first got an old model CI at age 7 in 1992 is not at all comparable to someone getting a current one at age 9 months today. It's a whole different world in terms of outcome"

I am aware of that and agree that there may be differences from these two eras. We don't know what the outcome is yet. And we don't know if it will change CI's desire to be part of a community where he/she would feel at home with. Time will tell.

Until there is a complete 100% cure where a deaf person is hearing 24/7, then, I will rest my case.

DBC is really more about Language than CI. We are really advocating for all deaf kids, including CI kids, we want them to have both of the best world. They need to be exposed to ASL and a BI BI education. You seem to have an open mind and flexible which is great. However, not many parents are that way.

If you can share with us the topic on the development of the brain that will be presented at the AGB conference, that would be great as well.

David said...

I have found an interesting scientific article about language development for Deaf and Hearing people.

Science Daily: New Language Learning


Marijka said...

Barb -- thanks for the BiBi links!

C -- cut and paste this link to see the program of the upcoming AG Be;; conference:
and read the parts about the keynote presenters. I think they are not in the deafness field, per se, but are neuroscientists, etc.

C and Devil's advocate: C said, "Until there is a complete 100% cure where a deaf person is hearing 24/7, then, I will rest my case."

To this I say I think it's kind-of extreme that you seek perfection in hearing restoration, because hearing people don't all have perfect hearing. In some settings, my bilateral CI-using son hears better than me. In the audiology booth, he can hear quiet tones I can't hear anymore. (Having been through many prior tests with him not responding to loud sounds with HAs, it is a surreal experience for me.) On balance in the real world, he hears worse than me, especially in situations where there is competing background speech noise, and in reverberant places, like large echo-y halls.

But bottom line -- don't assume all hearing people hear perfectly. A lot of us don't, but still function well and are able to communicate with each other with little effort, do our jobs, etc.

IamMine said...

Hey...I've been away but I want to say how impressed I am with the continuing civility dialog here!

Good to see you still here, Marijka! :D

I do believe Amy's children is doing very well but I think it is not fair that it is assumed that it CAN be the same for ALL - or even possible MOST of them.

Like it has been said over and over, it's the parents, parents, parents.

Amy and you are clearly very involved as well as parents who are very involved with Bi/Bi approach in ASL/English.

There are always strong advocates because of their children's outcomes.

Again, as I’ve said before – we’ve seen and heard this growing up with the system. This is not something that is new to us. That’s why Amy was still being given a hard time.

There are parents who can't invest much time in learning ASL as well those who can't invest much time in AVT with their children. Financial also plays a role in AVT.

Factors also include children's personality, learning styles and so forth.

Your son learned ASL and dropped on his own. He would only use it around those who know the language - interacting with other deaf who use ASL, that is.

Anyway, I still think teaching deaf babies sign language should be encouraged and that it would NOT hurt their process in learning spoken language (if chosen to be implanted), but actually HELPING them.

C said...

M, your point is well taken. What I really mean until we all are comparable to hearings where unlike CI, they are not always hearing things because certain times,they have to turn it off when they are swimming or perhaps sleeping. Also until there is a "cure" because CI isn't a cure.

Susan said...

Hi Marijka,

appreciate your feedback, it helps me to see from the other side. Thank you also for explaining that it takes a lot of time and energy for parents to learn how to teach their child to listen and speak, and with ASL on top of that, it may be too much for them, insomuch that ASL gets dropped.

There are some things which you brought up, that I’d like to reply to:

You said, “And why don't Deaf parents get CIs for their kids to give them more options for who to communicate with?”

My reply: I guess it comes from personal experience on being Deaf ourselves - we know what it’s like to be Deaf and happy being Deaf, especially with the rich language that we have in ASL (Auslan in my case). I have a Deaf family, so I’m content with our language, and see no need to have my head drilled just to learn a second language when it can be learnt via reading and writing.

But yes, I can see how it can be different for deaf children born in hearing families and their family members are not willing to learn ASL (through choice or ignorance). The children (babies) have no choice but to go along with their parents’ decision and strive to learn their family’s hearing language (some, like your son, may be successful, but there are some who are not successful and have so much frustration). If the parents learn ASL, there will be less frustration for those who are not successful, perhaps no frustration at all, especially if the parents strive in ASL as much as they do in speech and listening. I guess it is “take a risk” from the AGB on who will be successful or not. For those who are not successful, it is sad, as they don’t have full communication with their parents and siblings, and this affects how the deaf child/teen/adult sees him/herself.

You said, “What if Deaf children resent their Deaf parents later for not giving them the opportunity to learn to speak well..."

My reply: This question doesn’t make sense, because it is like asking, “What if hearing children resent their hearing parents for not teaching them ASL?” The reality is hearing parents don’t know ASL and there is no need to learn ASL as they already have their first language – English. So it is with deaf parents and deaf children with ASL as their first language.

But yes, I know where you’re coming from. :)

You said, “What ARE you afraid of anyway?”

My reply: I don’t want my skull drilled and a metal wire in my head, simple as that. I’m happy with who I am, and content with my language, and am happy with deaf children for who they are. Why have them drilled for the sake of learning a second language? (this is coming from a Deaf family perspective).

The above are just thoughts aloud, sometimes dialogule like this helps us to understand the other side better.


J said...

This is how I feel - period. If a hearing parent of a Deaf baby refuses to learn sign language nor facilitate communication with their baby or child in any way - their child should be taken away from them.

Hey social services - This is neglect. I don't understand why this is ok for Deaf children to be neglected like this. :-(