Text transcript of BSL video:
The Independent newspaper recently published an article about Deaf education and the debate of whether Deaf children should learn to sign or to speak – this issue has come to light because of the recent film ‘The Silent Child’. Have a look.
We are writing to express our dismay at a comment article published on The Independent website on 12 March, headlined “I'm glad The Silent Child is changing the narrative around Deaf children – but it's important to remember that sign language is not the only option”. (See an article online via The Independent - tap here)
The author of the piece argues that “Auditory verbal therapy is the key to a deaf child’s success” and questions how any parent would decide not to take that approach.
I would like to make it clear that we do not advocate that deaf children should not learn to talk – we have always encouraged the bilingual approach.
The timing of the publication was unfortunate, coming soon after Sign Language Week in the UK, given that it also implied that sign language users control the narrative or face less discrimination than deaf people who do not sign.
The profound and lasting effects of the poor language access for deaf BSL-users are well documented, and have been highlighted specifically by the United Nations committee on the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Prejudices were also movingly highlighted within the film ‘The Silent Child’ itself; many people are often quick to lower their expectations or aspirations for children who cannot communicate orally.
Deaf sign language users have had innumerable great achievements without needing to use spoken English. Many successful Deaf Sign Language users who are now Professors, Doctors, Lecturers, Teachers, Chief Executives, Directors and Business Entrepreneurs, demonstrate that high aspirations can be achieved by acquiring knowledge and skills through sign language.
Auditory Verbal UK, which will only work with children who are “optimally aided” i.e. who use hearing using aids, cochlear implants or Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA). It is important for people to realise that AVT is not an option for profoundly Deaf children without technology.
The truth is, any monolingual argument can be damaging. Lack of early language acquisition has profound consequences for children’s development; access and informed choice are imperative. For many parents the opposite is the case when their children are diagnosed as being deaf: the first and only advice they receive is to go for a Cochlear Implant. Never is there the option of bilingualism of both sign language and speech offered.
Surely the best option is that all deaf children can access both BSL and written English and that both languages are respected equally across all fields. That way, parents can make informed choices, and all – not some – of our deaf children can be allowed to thrive.
See an article via The Independent website - tap here.
Or see an article in screenshot image - tap here.