What’s it like to be a young Deaf college student at a Deaf university? Gallaudet isn’t just a school – it’s the center of the American Deaf community. Here’s why there’s so much more to being Deaf than you think.
Comparing the sign differences between American Sign Language & Crow Sign Language Flarin Big Lake is a member of the Crow Tribe. Flarin is the last Deaf Deaf person in Crow Tribe who uses Crow Sign Language (language variety of Plains Sign Language). He kindly emphasizes PISL is not a nationwide native sign language. It’s used in the plains area – Crow, Cheyenne, Flathead, Rocky Boy, etc.
Did you know that the first few years of life are the easiest time to learn a language? This time period is called the Window of Opportunity for language development. Since young children are able to pick up language so quickly and easily, it is vital that Deaf children have access to a visual language as early as possible.
After the age of 5, if a child has not had proper access to a language, they may never be able to become fully fluent. A lack of language can also cause problems with critical thinking skills.
Fast facts about language:
The following is an excerpt from the National Association of the Deaf :
The Deaf and hard of hearing community is diverse. There are variations in how a person becomes Deaf or hard of hearing, level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, communication methods, and cultural identity. How people “label” or identify themselves is personal and may reflect identification with the Deaf and hard of hearing community, the degree to which they can hear, or the relative age of onset.
For example, some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life. Other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are Deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss. Some people believe that the term “people with hearing loss” is inclusive and efficient. However, some people who were born Deaf or hard of hearing do not think of themselves as having lost their hearing. Over the years, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”
According to Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, in Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988): we use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of Deaf people who share a language – American Sign Language (ASL) – a culture, [and community]. The members of this group have inherited their sign language, use it as a primary means of communication among themselves, and hold a set of beliefs about themselves and their connection to the larger society. We distinguish them from, for example, those who find themselves losing their hearing because of illness, trauma or age; although these people share the condition of not hearing, they do not have access to the knowledge, beliefs, and practices that make up the culture of Deaf people.
“Hard-of-hearing” can denote a person with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Or it can denote a deaf person who doesn’t have/want any cultural affiliation with the Deaf community. Or both. The HOH dilemma: in some ways hearing, in some ways deaf, in others, neither. Can one be hard-of-hearing and ASL-Deaf? That’s possible, too. Can one be hard-of-hearing and function as hearing? Of course. What about being hard-of-hearing and functioning as a member of both the hearing and Deaf communities? That’s a delicate tightrope-balancing act, but it too is possible. As for the political dimension: HOH people can be allies of the Deaf community. They can choose to join or to ignore it. They can participate in the social, cultural, political, and legal life of the community along with culturally-Deaf or live their lives completely within the parameters of the “Hearing world.” But they may have a more difficult time establishing a satisfying cultural/social identity. Deaf Life, “For Hearing People Only” (October 1997).
The term “hearing-impaired” is no longer accepted by most in the community and is not a politically correct term. The term “hearing-impaired” is viewed as negative as it focuses on what people can’t do. It establishes the standard as “hearing” and anything different as “impaired,” or substandard, hindered, or damaged. It implies that something is not as it should be and ought to be fixed if possible. Every individual is unique.
Deaf children are often born to hearing parents who have little or no understanding of Deaf culture, American Sign Language (ASL), or the challenges faced by Deaf children. A Deaf mentor can be a wonderful resource, both for the family of a Deaf child, and the Deaf child him/herself.
A Deaf mentor can share their own experiences with the family, and can provide a reassuring role model for the Deaf child. The family will be able to come to their mentor with their questions or worries, and the mentor can serve as a constant resource and source of information throughout the Deaf child’s developmental milestones. Through their relationship with, and knowledge gained from the Deaf mentor, the family will become empowered to better provide for the needs of their child.
A Deaf mentor can also provide the family with the perfect opportunity to learn, and practice their newly acquired ASL skills!
De’VIA is an art movement formed by Deaf artists to express their Deaf experience. The term was coined by a group of Deaf artists in 1989 at the first Deaf Way festival, and it stands for Deaf View Image Art.
While Deaf artists create art that deals with the same subject matter as hearing artists, De’VIA artists and art express the particular experiences born of being Deaf. This art can focus on the physical and cultural characteristics of being Deaf, and can include Deaf metaphors and perspectives as well as Deaf insights into environments (natural and cultural), spiritual life, and everyday life.
De’VIA art often makes use of bold, contrasting colours and textures. It frequently uses a strong central image, and facial features such as eyes, mouths, and ears, as well as hands, are emphasized.
Some famous De’VIA artists are Betty G. Miller, Chuck Baird, Ann Silver, and Mary J. Thornley.
The Benefits of Bilingualism: Impacts on Language and Cognitive Development:
Bilingualism can be briefly defined as someone who regularly uses two languages. According to researcher Franḉois Grosjean (who studies American Sign Language cognitive processing), bilingualism is the norm throughout most of the world. The proficiency levels between the two languages can vary throughout someone’s lifetime based on how much they use the language.
Many Deaf people are fluent in a signed language as well as a spoken or written form of a spoken language; because of this, it is probable that bilingualism is more common with Deaf individuals than hearing individuals. Proficiency in the two languages depends on the level of proficiency needed for the context (for example, is the language used solely at home or solely at school? This will result in different vocabulary). Proficiency will also depend on when the language was acquired.
Learning two languages is a very natural process for children, and it does not result in or cause cognitive or linguistic delays. A child learning two languages is able to achieve all the same milestones as a child who is learning only one language – everything from babbling to acquiring grammatical structures. This includes children who are learning American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
The most obvious benefit of being bilingual is the ability to communicate in two languages. It is beneficial to learn these two languages as early as possible in your life. Vocabulary is acquired easier and more quickly in both languages for people who are bilingual. In addition, managing two languages has cognitive benefits such as a better ability to pay attention, better control of impulses, better conflict resolution skills, and increased working memory.
Deaf children can greatly benefit from going to a bilingual school because if they have high proficiency in ASL, they may also have high proficiency in English and improved academic achievement. By exposing Deaf children to ASL, they are able to develop skills such as critical thinking and complex reasoning which can help their second language literacy development.
It is beneficial to use ASL when your Deaf child is present, not only when you are directly communicating with them. This means exposure to different types of conversations such as arguments, small talk, and communication between different age groups. Using English with your Deaf child by reading books and translating them into ASL shows that communication can be in both languages and helps them to understand how both languages work.