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.
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 www.cad1906.org 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
Sources:Amy Cohen Efron's vlog on the Greatest Irony with voice-over