About Deaf Education
Children need to be immersed in language from the moment they are born. This is critical to all aspects of personal, social, and academic growth. Deaf and hard-of-hearing (“DHH”) children face unique challenges in this regard. Ninety percent of DHH children are born to hearing parents who are unfamiliar with the range of language and communication systems that may be appropriate for their children.
In addition to everyday, spoken English, these systems include:
- American Sign Language, a fully developed sign language system that does not parallel the vocabulary or grammatical rules of English
- Various sign systems that recreate in sign the vocabulary and grammar of English
- Total communication, which utilizes a broad range of modes of communication, including signed, auditory and visual aids
- Cued speech, a system utilizing hand signals to supplement spoken language
The need DHH children have for language access at school are immense given the inevitable language barriers they face in society and, to varying degrees, at home. School districts are frequently ill-informed about the options for educating DHH students. Approaches to teaching DHH children vary widely, depending in part on the system of communication that they utilize. Determining the appropriate program requires an individualized assessment of a student’s particular needs and circumstances. However, many districts will seek to place every DHH student in the local deaf education program without such an individualized assessment.
Education extends beyond the classroom. DHH children frequently grow up surrounded by people with whom they cannot communicate. They require additional services and supports to facilitate extracurricular social, athletic and cultural activities. All children should have access to peers and role models with whom they can freely communicate and interact on a daily basis.
The parents of DHH children confront important choices early on about their children’s language and education, choices that have profound impacts on the later development of their children. These choices include selecting a system of communication for their children, deciding whether to utilize assistive listening devices, and navigating a wide variety of adaptive technologies.
Ms. Bertin has extensive expertise in deaf education and the full spectrum of related issues. She is fluent in American Sign Language, has spent years teaching all-deaf elementary school classes. Ms. Bertin’s personal and professional experiences make her a unique resource for parents of DHH children. She evaluates all available options to ensure that your child will be placed with a sufficient number of language peers and role models and receives the best possible education, both inside and outside the classroom.