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A puzzler from my kids: how do deaf people learn to read?

 
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 04:35 pm
I have a deaf friend. She has been deaf since birth. She grew up in a hearing family, but her entire family can sign. She's on my facebook and I read the messages sent back and forth between her friends and I realized the grammar (if it's called that...) in ASL is very different from english. I read somewhere that a priest, Bosco (I think) in Italy noticed the rudimentary communication between deaf orphans and he helped teach and expand sign language. Many of the words/signs originate from this sources.
The verb "to be" doesn't exist. It must make it difficult not only to read but writing would be so hard to learn without hearing the language, the pronunciation, the cadence and the phrasing.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 04:55 pm
@Ceili,
There is definitely grammar, but it's a different grammar from English. Sometimes Deaf people write in ASL word order, sometimes it's just a manifestation of language problems. (As in, they haven't mastered English and the grammar issues are more about that than about an ASL influence per se.)

It's not really accurate to say that there is no "to be" verb. I can think of many ways to say it in ASL. There isn't necessarily a straight word-sign correlation, but they are two different languages. Some ASL words need multiple English words to convey the same meaning, and vice versa.

American Sign Language is mostly an amalgam of the sign language that developed on Martha's Vineyard, which had a very high percentage of deaf people (so high that most of the hearing people who lived there knew sign language, too), and French sign language that was brought over to America by Gallaudet and Le Clerc.

DrewDad, it's very sad! I've been involved in a few initiatives to try to provide services to people who have infants who failed the universal hearing screening. That was started so that deaf babies could start getting language exposure right away, instead of being finally diagnosed at age 2 or 3 or even older... but so many people just fail to follow up. Then there's the whole "fix 'em" cochlear implant mentality... sigh. (Again, some cochlear implants DO work, and I'm not absolutely anti-cochlear implant. It's just that I've seen, personally, so many situations where they DIDN'T work and the consequences were dire...)

I don't think you need to worry at all about not providing a rich ASL environment for your kids, though (as in, not talking to your wife in ASL in front of them), since they had access to a rich spoken-English environment (they're not deaf). As long as a baby/ child has access to SOME language, they can learn another language fine. The problem is when there is no real access to any language at all.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 06:08 pm
@sozobe,
I don't really understand mentality behind the "egg basket" approach, where they wait to see if the implant works.

Although I watched a very interesting TED talk about cognitive mistakes that people make. One example was an experiment with doctors: You've treated someone extensively for hip pain. Many medications. You've referred them for hip replacement. You realize a few days later that you haven't tried Ibuprofin. What do you do? Most doctors said they'd call the patient back and try the medication first.

Next experiment: same scenario except the doctor hadn't tried two medications (Ibuprofin and some other pain killer). Suddenly the doctors didn't call the patient. The choice not to go through with it was too complex, and they simply went with the easy choice.





I'm not kicking myself about the ASL environment for the kids; I'm just saying that I might've made the same mistake.
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 06:11 pm
Thanks Soz, that was really interesting. As I said scattered memory and observation.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 06:18 pm
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:
I'm not kicking myself about the ASL environment for the kids; I'm just saying that I might've made the same mistake.


Right, I was in a hurry when I wrote the above and worried later that it could seem like I thought you were kicking yourself -- I didn't, I just took what you said as sort of a jumping-off point.

Ceili, glad you found that interesting, I get into pedant mode on this subject easily. Smile Nice to see you around again!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 07:02 pm
@DrewDad,
Here's the talk. They even have subtitles.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 08:03 pm
Fascinating stuff. Great question, great replies.

This, though, really hit home:

"A bit of each. Hearing parents often don't realize that their kids are deaf until a certain amount of time has passed. The more time that is, the more of a problem it presents. If they're deaf, and not getting any accessible language, that causes linguistic issues down the line.

Then, hearing parents frequently try other stuff before learning ASL -- if they ever get there. It's one of my biggest complaints about cochlear implants. They do sometimes work -- but they often don't. And kids who were implanted but don't get benefits from them have a double whammy because the fact that the cochlear implants didn't work usually takes a while to become apparent. They need to train for years before the payoff. If there is no payoff, they've wasted years of linguistic exposure, really crucial years. (Parents who get their kids cochlear implants very rarely learn ASL/ teach their kids ASL while they're waiting for that payoff.)"

My nephew had a hearing impairment when we was a baby that noboy noticed. When they did notice it, his parents belived that Jesus would fix it.

Jesus didn't fix it.

When he was (I think) about 5 they had a simple operation done that restored his hearing to normal. (Not an implant -- his hearing loss wasn't that profound.)

But he missed it -- he missed the stage where you learn language.

It has effected everything in his life.

He's in his 20s now and it still effects everthing in his life -- a life which is much smaller than it should have been.

0 Replies
 
 

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