Nyle DiMarco: That Dangerous Activist, Bent on Destroying the Deaf Community

A new post is calling Nyle DiMarco's campaign for ASL acquisition for deaf kids, "dangerous"
There is is this piece on The Establishment now called, “Nyle DiMarco’s Activism is Dangerous for the Deaf Community.” 

I feel compelled to write a post to respond to it, simply because I have so much to say. 

The author, Lisa A. Goldstein, is deaf and is slamming on Nyle’s efforts to promote deaf education and teach deaf kids ASL. She’s using the argument that because she is deaf and she doesn’t know ASL and was mainstreamed – but felt no isolation, despite being in a hearing family to boot! – that really, deaf kids don’t need to be taught ASL.

She goes on to say, “we’re deaf in different ways, and that should be ok.” That statement is kind of ironic, given that her entire post is pushing for mainstreaming and teaching deaf kids English as opposed to ASL and English. She herself isn’t going the route of ASL being in the mix being okay. She goes on to say that Nyle DiMarco’s activism in promoting ASL education for deaf kids is dangerous.

ASL and Bilingual Education for the Deaf: Dangerous?!

You want to know what I think is dangerous? A lot of kids growing up without language.

In her post, Goldstein says,

As part of his foundation’s efforts, Nyle is trying to get states to pass a law that requires bilingualism for deaf people—ASL and English. In other words, he wants to make ASL a requirement for deaf children, which infringes on parental choice. As long as parents are informed of all communication options, it should be up to them to choose what’s best for their children.

That sounds great! Awesome!

But this is the thing: IT IS NOT HAPPENING. Hearing parents have had the choice forever to do what they think is best for their deaf child, and simply too many deaf kids are deprived of early language acquisition, point blank. Deaf kids are falling through the cracks, wandering through early childhood and into school without access to a full-fledged first language.

This is exactly the case for more than half of all deaf kids – and if you think I’m joking, go and visit a deaf section of a public, mainstream school. You’ll find, as I did, that there are highschoolers with enormous language deficits because they never learned a language when they were babies, because they had no access to language. The couldn’t hear. Their parents didn’t teach them ASL. They were unable to grasp English. They were left out, lost, and deprived of language, full stop.

This fact is inconceivable to most hearing people, especially in this day and age where ASL is trendy. Hearing kids tend to know more ASL and have access to more ASL than deaf kids do. And if the deaf kids have no access to language in infancy and early childhood, guess what happens? That part of their brain atrophies and makes it incredibly difficult to learn later.

Ms. Goldstein talks about her parent’s choice of focusing on lipreading and mainstreaming for her own childhood, saying that they thought she could learn ASL later. Bravo for them, all right? But in my own – also deaf, mainstreamed and from a hearing family – case, guess what? I hear nothing without my devices. I’m 43 years old and struggling to learn ASL now. That whole “learn ASL later” thing doesn’t always work so well, because “later” can happen your brain is past the stage in which it can pick up languages easily. I’m just lucky that my hearing parents constantly checked my comprehension of English – I didn’t fall through the cracks like a lot of deaf kids do.

So listen. I don’t want to hear posts like Lisa A. Goldstein’s, that are defending a push to keep deaf kids without ASL. I don’t want to read things about bi-lingual deaf people being a “dangerous establishment.” I don’t want to read things that are asking us to fix ourselves up through drilling holes in our skulls and wiring us with cochlear implants, or having us wear hearing aids 24/7 so that we can try and communicate orally.

I don’t want to read things that are essentially promoting more language deprivation for deaf children. We need to move past that, focus on ASL education for all deaf kids, move into English and on to other languages if the child has a bend for that.

Let’s start with what we know a deaf person will need in their life. Because even if they do have cochlear implants or wear hearing aids, at the end of the day, they take them out and are deaf.

:// end rant

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
Meriah

@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
A comprehensive collection of resources for new parents of children with Down syndrome - https://t.co/WfzGfpmWm6 - 2 hours ago
Meriah
Liked it? Take a second to support Meriah on Patreon!

198 Comments

  • I disagreed with you. If you ever visit Maryland School for the Deaf. They are the most successful with BI program therefore it is not dangerous!

    • Huh? That’s kind of the whole point of this post: that it’s NOT dangerous. And the post was in response to Goldstein’s post that it IS dangerous. You might want to head over to hers to tell her your thoughts.

      • I work with deaf students everyday. Out of about 15 deaf students (not counting the hard of hearing students in addition), only three of the deaf students have signing parents. These students are in high school and I’ve had them since elementary school. They read on a 1st grade level and all the years I’ve tried hard to work with them, their parents continued to be oblivious to their language needs and they make up every excuse in the book to why they aren’t learning sign language. Oh and the students who have signing parents are our most successful ones.

        • Exactly. If the parents would take the time to teach their kids a language that would not only open a whole new world for their kids, it would make communication from the parents so much easier. I couldn’t imagine not communicating with my own kids. Tired of the excuses from lazy parents who refuse to learn a better way to communicate with their kids..

    • Go back and read carefully!! Better yet, read the last 3 paragraph of this post.

      Thanks Meriah, for standing strong with all of us.

    • Your reply proves Meriah’s point. You misunderstood her point, thus you showed your incomplete competency in English. She pointed out that many deaf kids with hearing parents don’t have full competency in English as result of the monolingual English language acquisition, which is faulty in most cases.

      Meriah does support bilingual acquisition for every deaf child and bicultural education for all of them. She only quotes what Ms Goldstein of AGBell Association wrote to which she disagrees..

    • I disagree with you. I raised a deaf daughter and started her in a Deaf Ed Program, in a public school. They taught her ESL. After finding out that, she wasn’t promoted to kindergarten, I pulled her out and put her in the Texas School for the Deaf. At that school, they taught ASL. I communicated with my daughter daily, even though she lived in the dorms. Anytime, she would text me, I would correct her English. So, being a parent that was very involved with my child, that is deaf. I think being well rounded on both is a great thing. So, my daughter and you got lucky, with parents that participated with the child that was deaf. I have seen parents drop their kids off and leave them $5 in their account for the whole month, from SSI. They were hearing parents of deaf children and didn’t care at all. So, I think it is a great idea! Parents are parents til the end. Period! End of my rant!!!! JS

  • This is my reply:

    “As long as parents are informed of all communication options, it should be up to them to choose what’s best for their children. Ninety percent of children who are deaf are born to hearing parents, the vast majority of whom do not know ASL or have connections to Deaf Culture. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, they would opt for their own culture and language.”

    While I understand her points of view, this part above really struck a nerve. The KEY point here is “As long….” well, I don’t think the author realizes just how many of those hearing parents don’t realize ASL is an option…. Sure, Nyle is trying to make it a requirement, but I believe his foundation is trying to do this so there can be a ‘middle-ground’.

    What is this middle ground you speak of? Think of it this way, it’s almost like a negotiation. When you negotiate, usually, there’s a high bar that’s set (like requiring all deaf children to learn ASL) but it creates an atmosphere for compromise. This middle ground of compromise, personally in my opinion, is requiring all states to have ASL as one of the many options for parents of deaf children. This way everyone wins.

    I should clarify and define what the lower ground is here:

    The lower ground in this analogy is to not require ASL to be provided an option, but then it’s easy for oralist advocates to push their platform even further (eg: AGB) whereas the Deaf community has no say. Oralists already have speech training and cochlear implantation, as they are already well known options.

    Think of it this way, if we don’t require ASL to be provided as an option, then how is it fair for everyone?

  • Thank you so much, Meriah, for articulating what many of us deafies are thinking. Unfortunately, the platform that Goldstein used does not allow comments. I think that is cowardly.

  • Spot on. I dummy have a problem with parents using other options as long as it’s not too the exclusion of ASL. If I had a deaf child, I would prioritize ASL because the research shows that ASL is beneficial to all deaf kids (even those with cochlears have stronger ENGLISH skills when they are given ASL from a young age). I would also teach them to cue. That is as close to fully bilingual as you can get for a Deaf child when one of the languages is spoken.

    Oralism works for a small percentage, but fails for many. By the time they admit that and add ASL, those language pathways have usually started to close, if not completely closed. There are “oral failures” and “cue failures”. There are no ASL failures. Any deaf child can access ASL to the extent they are cognitively capable of learning language. The only reasons they might not would be the same reasons hearing kids might not fully grasp English (language delays, etc.). Most of the time, the deaf children I see struggling with language are the ones whose parents don’t learn to communicate with them and/or the ones whose parents chose other options and they failed. Kids whose families make the effort to immerse then in ASL are pretty much always successful with learning unless there is another issue (like cognitive disability or a language disorder). The fact that there are SOME successes (and there are) for other methods didn’t make those options universally successful. ASL, done correctly, is universally successful.

    My concern with Kyle’s proposal is how we will judge sufficient access to ASL. I see so many parents who dump their kids in the signing program, but never learn to sign. By high school, they cannot have even basic conversations with their own parents, let alone discuss problems at school or life’s big issues. Is that “providing ASL”. In y experience, that is also an epic failure situation. I’d rather a parent 100% committed to cueing who drops everything to make sure their kid always has access to the conversations going on around them than a parent who sticks them in school with an interpreter as their only language model and just ignores them and used rudimentary gestures with them at home. So many bright kids have their futures taken away from them, even kids whose parents have chosen ASL as their language in school, because their own families can’t converse with them. I worry that mandating ASL without parental buy-in will just create more situations like that.

    • You said “Oralism works for a small percentage, but fails for many. By the time they admit that and add ASL, those language pathways have usually started to close, if not completely closed. There are “oral failures” and “cue failures”. ”

      I disagree on this one..

      • TJ dont have any idea what is going on I went to oralism school no sign langage interpeter it was suck Alexander Graham Bell wanted all of deaf children wore hearing aid learn how to listen and speak most of my friends can’t hear a single word or sounds with hearing aid on how can they learn how to speak or listen? I did not learn sign language when I enrolled NTID/RIT i met many wonderful deaf students who taught me how to use the sign language while I was living in dormority that is how I finally catch up the education i spent a lot of time how to speak and listen rather than learning more education that is oralism way i have two college degree through NTID and Gallaudet University Actually I am late boomer that my hall of fame coach told me

      • TJ, you are too simplistic in evaluating the situation concerning the language acquisition situation of deaf children of hearing parents.

        You have to consider the majority of deaf children, not the upper 10 % of deaf children like Goldstein, Miriah, and myself. You must not consider the upper the 10% minority to judge what would be best for the lower 90%. Your accomplishments in English is largely not because of, but despite of how you were brought up. You could be successful linguistically if your parents were assholes and don’t communicate with you well. I have encountered cases of asshole parents and linguistically successful kids. My parents were assholes, and I grew up in a linguistically impoverished environment in my family, yet my linguistic abilities are above par in both German and English, thanks to sign language used in my school for the deaf by my older peers and awkwardly by hearing teachers. Still my classmates are impoverished in both signed and spoken languages. My parents tried to communicate with me very hard orally, speaking slowly and enunciatedly. My German was agrammatical with improper word choices whenever I wrote. I started to learn English as a 21-year-old adult entirely on my own from instructional books. Now I am more competent in English, but surprisingly my German has improved a great deal to the point that I have published articles in professional journals…

        You cannot use your own background to recommend anything. You must rely on the data on the majority of the population in the two-third middle of the statistical bell curve.

        Meriah is correct, oralism works for a small percentage, namely for the top 10 % of the population, and it is not because of oralism, but despite of oralism..That is exactly what happened to me.

        I have seen what happened to the bilingual situation in deaf families with deaf children. The statistics of their bilingual abilities are overwhelming.

        The history of the education of the deaf, including the current emphasis on the auditory-verbal approach has shown dismal failures.in the majority of deaf children. The auditory-verbal approach is already over 50 years old. No remarkable improvements in the overall abilities in English by the majority of deaf children have been shown,

        Goldstein has become a victim of the audistic environment during her formative years. She is only lucky that no damage was done to her as the same has been done to many others.

        • What you say is why I think we should try a different approach.

          If you try to put an ocean into a pond you will end up with a disaster. But. If you try to put a pond into an ocean, you have less problems.

          The younger the children, the more receptive they are to learning. Instead of separating the hearing and the deaf children, why not teach them together, both languages?

          I understand that some parents may not be supportive and may not participate, but in the classroom, the children will be able to learn and support each other. Many parents don’t get involved when their children are learning any other languages, including music, so parental involvement, though welcomed, is not necessary.

          I believe this would be of great benefit to all children.

        • And the bar set by the top 10% used to be the bar set by the top 1% in the 60s and 70s, The oral deaf teenagers I meet today are leaps and bounds beyond where my peers were 30 years ago, too. Agree with them or not, advances in CI technology and AV therapy are how the bar keeps being raised in spite of the opposition, that often borders on hatred, coming from the Deaf culture. I have zero animosity towards those who choose the ASL route, and I have met a handful of people who have done very well being raised with both ASL and speaking fluency. But if the bilingual approach was as effective as is being claimed, I would expect the champions of that style of learning to be able to speak and listen at least half as well as they sign.

    • It’s actually the parents’ responsibility to learn ASL if they choose to have their child learn ASL. They can instruct the deaf child in both English and ASL. It’s very do able because I’ve been doing it since I was a little boy and thousands of other deaf people have too.

      • Spot on, my deaf son learned his first word at 2 and entered ISD at 3 and 1/2. He learned ,came home and taught me.,,and with deaf community plus Church and my deaf son, soon I was part of the Deaf group
        . To this day we still talk each day
        PS I am a hearing Mother

        • Jane,
          I wish, I had a pragmatic mother like you. When I first came home from a residential school for the deaf on a vacation as a first grader, I brought signs from the school to the family. I remembered my mother and siblings using the signs I taught them. But one year later all the signing disappeared. I still cannot figure out why they stopped the signing suddenly. Upon whose advice? Afterwards the communication between them and me went laboriously and gradually became minimal. Communication was largely one-way from me to them and much less from them to me, because my speech was pretty good and my lipreading was insufficient for the topics beyond small talk, although good in comparison to many of my deaf classmates.

          You need to spread your experience to other mothers.

  • I agreed with Lisa A. Goldstein’s post all the way. ASL and bilingual will NEVER be succeed in the school. Nyle’s activism in promoting ASL education for deaf kids is VERY dangerous, he is a pathological liar and manipulating people.

    • Melow Meldrew, in schools and situations where ASL and Bilingualism is encouraged and utilized, it already HAS been successful. Expand it and it will continue to be successful.
      Your narrow view is so wrong and devastatingly sad!!

    • What drama “pathological liar and manipulative” that is narrow opinion! Ignorance is bliss I guess

    • Ugh, what… Is this some kind of joke?! Lisa and Melow…. I find this hard to believe after I read what you guys said in your article and comments. Let me tell you a bit story of my life. I was born deaf, raised in hearing family and went to mainstreaming school all my whole life. I finally learned sign language when I was 7 yrs old. I grew up with my hearing family that they don’t even really bother to learn sign language to communicate with me and always left me out of family conversation. That really show a ‘lack’ of family bond. I often misunderstood what people were saying by lipreading… Of course, I felt so frustration, isolated and desperate trying to find a way to get through. Gosh, I have never felt so much audism in my lifetime. I personally felt that my own family never really care how I feel or what I have gone thru?!! So, I realized that I’d rather spend more time with my deaf friends than with my own hearing family, because of the communication in ASL! Until I married to a deaf guy and then later on, we had a deaf child, which it was unexpected, but sooo blessing feeling!! We decided to send our child to deaf school instead of mainstreaming school, where they use ASL to communicate. Our child turns out to be a wonderful and bright kid!

      You may NOT realize that ASL do really give us a lot of benefit to communication a lot better than being an oralism without sign language. There’s NO such a thing about being in ‘dangerous’ for using in ASL… that’s the most ridiculous thing that I ever heard!! ASL is a beautiful language! PLEASE STOP for trying to destroy ASL and show us some respect!!!

      • @Sophia,
        there are data a plenty. First, deaf children of deaf parents are always way ahead of deaf children of hearing parents, even those from a higher socio-economic class than the deaf parents are. There are many studies to show it. Nyle DiMarco is just one example among many other examples. I can give you names a galore to support this statement.

        Secondly, the study by K.Heiling in Sweden also showed how the Swedish law 1981, requiring bilingual education of ALL deaf children and provided resources and support to hearing parents to learn Swedish Sign Language, resulted in 50 % of deaf school leavers (15 years old) have the same reading level as the average hearing peers, that is, the Swedish deaf school leavers have the same average achievement in reading comprehension as hearing children, using standardized tests, while only ten percent of the British and US children achieved age-equivalent reading levels.

        Thirdly, I have seen many deaf children of hearing parents doing extremely well academically, because their parents learned ASL and used it at home. The Office of Research at Gallaudet University should have the data to show high correlation between academic achievement and hearing status of parents.

    • Mellow~ that’s bullshit abt Lisa’ s post! She never enter to Deaf community and see those deaf people use their ASL as our primary language! Have you go to Deaf clubs or Deaf communities?? I think that ya never understand how is really important to us is ASL NOT AGBELL!! Ya still have to study abt deaf culture and lifestyle… Ya get really wrong idea abt us! I thank to Meriah’s post which one is more dangerous ASL or AGBELL? AGBELL is most dangerous!

    • I am a pro-oral, I’d much prefer lesser emphasis on ‘Hearing’, we aren’t at war or anything…. I tend to think all this ASL versus A G Bell is childish, and non-productive too. It looks like sign using deaf are deliberately seeking out battles to fight, instead of agreeing to differ and respecting the views of others, or just plain reading what isn’t there. Just because one area supports an oralist approach, (and certainly appears to have a fair amount of support for that), they should be respected on those grounds. Mutual respect engenders mutual acceptance, listening, respecting the A G Bell is meaning of “Excellence” in higher education teaching deaf and hoh child, it doesn’t have to be ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’

      • @Melow Mildew,
        your ideas are mildewing. So much mold is on your arguments.
        You did not consider the sad history of the education of the deaf based on audism and oralism. Oralism in whatever raiment has produced failures in the masses of deaf children. It has made their lives miserable. A.G>Bell as the standard bearer of oralism is one major culprit of this suffering. Hatred against AGBell is justified, in the same degree as we hate Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Nero. etc.

        You MUST keep in mind, we are never against learning English, and learning to speak. The problem is the exclusivity of SPEECH in the education, Even language received the second fiddle (lesser importance) under oralism along with the real education in mathematics, social sciences and natural sciences. Speech must receive its relative value. It is good as long it is doable with little effort. Just accept, if a child does not succeed in speech. The child will acquire English through writing and reading, and gets explanation of English grammar in ASL.

  • This is such a beautiful response to Goldstein’s post!! YES YES- the whole point is LANGUAGE! Thank you for standing up for millions of deaf children!!

    • Merlow …except that AGB wants to erdicate Deaf and ASL.That’s why Deaf is taking them on in our fight for our language and choice for Bilingualism and Deaf Education. AGB wants to take away all that and make sure deaf people are implanted with Ci and assimilated – their ultimate goal. They don’t want diversity or choices. They want to “normalize” deaf and refuses to accept anything else.

  • YES!!! There is already far too much literature out there opposing the bilingual approach for Deaf kids, we don’t need another article written by someone with no idea what they’re talking about. What Nyle is doing is an incredibly powerful thing, and I am so glad he is using his celebrity status to benefit his own community and bring our language back to us. Yay!!!

    • @Talitha,
      NO, there are more scientific literature that support bilingualism. Those criticizing it are old, now strongly discredited. They are written by oralists to defend their monolingual approach for deaf children.

  • I disagree with you. Many hearing people don’t get enuff education about deaf culture. Deaf people know what’s better for deaf baby. You are ignorance!!!!

  • Look, ASL is a popular….ASL is learning vocabulary then to use English….both of them are useful but ASL is best….hearing people learn ASL babies….I use a Beauitful ASL in the world…I
    am so sorry hearing people feel yo left out ASL..true
    Hearing people hear everything you left me out because I can’t hear anything…think a twice….hearing and deaf are equally….hearing complain to learn ASL, that is their problem and deaf people are a naturally sign languages….no barrier ASL is first language….

  • Lord help you!! Get the facts straight! I smell jealously here for someone success!!! Sad you cut yourself short in life..,

  • I don’t have a Deaf child, but I have a hearing child who was in a Russian orphanage for four years, with a fair amount of language deprivation, before we adopted her. We were told not to worry about learning Russian, that she didn’t speak that much of it, that she’d pick up English like a sponge … so she completely lost her first language before learning a second and is still, 20-some-years later, suffering for that early language lapse. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely learn Russian, and if I had a kid who would benefit from ASL, I’d absolutely learn and use that too. You never ever get that time back. Kids need to be bombarded with language in those early years, not deprived.

    • Terri Maurro,
      That your child did’nt learn Russian during her formative years is really unbelievable. I suspect, she has some kind of aphasia that blocks auditory stimuli to the auditory language center in the brain. I encountered two such hearing persons who could not process speech, and therefore use ASL. One of them received a PhD in linguistics and uses ASL-English interpreters. Would the emphasis on sign language and reading in English help?

  • I grew up in a public school but lost my hearing gradually. Learning sign language was everyone’s last resort because they wanted me to be normal and speak. I was in speech classes up until my sophomore year in high school. It didn’t do anything for me and I started failing public school, this was a small town and I was the only deaf person. Once I went to the deaf school and learned sign language I flourished! I am still able to speak fairly normal and I go to public colleges for classes. I have interpreters but I continue to speak for myself. ASL is the best option, even if a kid gets a CI, like I got in 2007. I’m deaf and the CI is just a tool.

    • YES! I don’t think there is anything wrong with using technology – I use and like my hearing aids – but I agree with you: we need the ASL too.

  • YOU ARE THAT STUPID! Really!! You don’t know the other side in the deaf community and you need to go through everything in an inner the deaf community to get the better picture!! I grew up in the public school, first language I learned was English and they did not teach for who I really as a person until I learned ASL in college at a later age. I knew I am deaf but I don’t know what’s really about myself. ASL and the Deaf culture helped me understanding for who I am and where I belong to. ASL IS NOT DANGEROUS!!!

    • Abueg, you better discuss with someone who can understand English well, before you writes something. You misunderstood Meriah by a mile. Meriah only repeated what Lisa Goldstein of AGBell Association for the Deaf wrote and criticized her strongly, although she comes from the same background like Ms Goldstein.

  • Thanks for sharing ur part. I need to share that there are NO risks to learning ASL 🙂 Deaf children have the opportunity to be bilingual yet that’s being prevented as we have many parents depriving their Deaf children that chance. Change the focus by allowing Deaf children the pleasure of learning ASL –that this will finally end the cycle perpetuating myths as the media made possible for the truth to be shoved aside in favor of stories that glorify programs focusing on fixing ears. I shudder to think about the fact how many deaf children made it as successful deaf adults through sheer luck like u. So many ways to be deaf in a world we can get through to show the value and riches of ASL and a deaf life. Parents need this information to be FULLY informed about what it is like raising deaf children, who happen to be deaf. AGBell’s jargon for listening and speaking (spoken language as they say) is portraying “LSL” to trick parents thinking it is equivalent to ASL but “more skilled” (for lack of a better word). Listening and speaking are “skills” –not as a language that they go in training or therapy developed through 1-1 lessons, in class, or through the use of technology. In short it is oral only, not LSL.

    Deaf children get to learn ASL and English (reading, writing, and speaking) because of benefits that most of us know about. The newborn hearing screening program are doing the right thing to intervene when babies are identified deaf, however, they get sidetracked when they openly promote listening and speaking agenda and gives out biased info/resources etc. No mention of ASL or get to meet a deaf person as a mentor as many have never met a deaf person before. We have too many families who are steered away from this reality. Can u just see that it is a grave disservice to Deaf children by continuing to discourage clueless families? We can see information on CIs is well advertised while ASL get the short shrift. Society and the media do not go far enough to encourage parents to learn ASL. Give us and Nyle a break as we are trying to make points and see to improving results in the quest to win hearts and minds of the public -stressing the importance of ASL, that!

  • Evidence of language deprivation are Deaf people who respond negatively to this post, thinking it is supportive of the Goldstein post. They missed the sarcastic tone of this post and the refuted points of Goldstein’s remarks. I agree with them and with all the others in this: yes, the Goldstein article this refers to is biased and wrong in most of its pointers. So wrong that nearly every response to it has been vehemently opposing it and overwhelmingly in favor of including ASL in every deaf child’s early programming.

    • I don’t think it was the sarcasm in the title that confused people….I think a lot of people just didn’t read it and only read the title…which is too bad cause it was a great article!

    • I can see why some people are mistaking your title as being your position. Hard to pick up that sarcasm from the title. Unfortunate. But whatever, great article.

      • Rain, I agree, the title is misleading. I don’t see any sarcasm there. I indeed thought “another Lisa Goldsteon, UGH” I wish she chose a different and shorter title. Perhaps “Lisa Goldstein of AGBAD is wrong!” Or “Lisa Goldstein IS Dangerous!” or “Oralism is perpetuating Oppression against Deaf People” or “Listen, Listen, and Listen, yet They fail to Listen to Us”

  • Beautiful blog. I concur wholeheartedly.

    That being said… far too many people are reacting to this by its cover. I’d change the title.

  • I read most of the replies. I see some of them might misunderstand you. You was trying to make point to support Nyle. I hope I am right. I think the topic was confused? Maybe it is easy to say ” Reply to Lisa, blah…” Just an idea.
    I would like to see the law for Deaf children to have ASL and English to be pass. We are talking about the rights! We, Deaf children and Adults have every right to have ASL. With the law pass, the Hearing parents with Deaf children will know that children need two language ASL and English ( written language ).

  • Meriah, thank you for your response to Lisa’s blog. You made your points which I wholeheartedly agree with you. You said it better than I can.

    Not knowing Nyle’s degree of hearing loss, degree of hearing loss does make a difference in understanding of speech. For those with profound hearing loss ( over 91 FB loss) hearing aids would be of no help. I am assuming the writer, Lisa, had only the mild or moderate loss,

    • I don’t know… I was wondering the same thing though. But I have profound loss and hearing aids DO help me. So, yeah. I don’t know.
      Thanks for the kind words.

    • Ron,
      the extent of hearing inability (I don’t use “hearing loss”, for I never looked my hearing) may play a role in learning speech well. But I know of many who don’t hear at all who can speak very well, and some have an uncanny ability to lipread. Why they can do them is a mystery.

  • you’ll calling calling campaign for ASL acquisition for deaf kids, dangerous? I read your post four times, and I still don’t get it!

    • I’m sorry – the title was totally sarcastic. It was a spin on Lisa’s post, as SHE was the one who said it was dangerous. I should have titled this post what my friend Liz said, “Nyle DiMarco is Hot. Now Read My Post” 🙂

      • Meriah, Best is to write utmost one sentence or even better just a phrase that is striking and informative about the article.
        A good one would be “The Dangers of Single-Mindedness of LSL/Oralism”, or “Only LSL is Dangerous!”

  • Visual language is the highest education to visualize than the verbal language…. What is a best option?? Using the visual language, it helps your brain build up the strongest education. So it is our ASL we preserve.. If there are no visual language on the road ie, Road Stop Sign… boom.. did you get it?

  • oh I understand now I do believe ASL is first language for deaf people to help them understand better before to learn English to write better.

  • Believe me, I grew up at an oral school for the deaf and lived in “hearing world” like attending public school system. I was completely “lost” due not using sign language until I was 20 years old. That is when I started “finding myself” and developed self confidence with help of ASL. Eventually I entered business world and owned construction business. Now I am 70 years old, retired and am most grateful for the ASL that “saved” my sanity. Without ASL, I would have “fallen though ” those cracks and be part of over 70% Deaf population who are underemployed or unemployed around the country. It is time for everyone (Deaf and hearing) to “listen” to the Deaf education professionals as well as Nyle (he was a teacher before going into show business). For a long, long time, those Deaf education professionals’ words has fallen on Deaf ears (excuse the pun) and we need to LISTEN to them. There is a serious Deaf social genocide as result of unsuccessful mainstreamed education programs and “scientific technologies” like cochlear implants that were not good for many, many Deaf people. We need to STOP fooling around as there are only 2% of Deaf young people being exposed to ASL. My children and grandchildren had the benefit growing up in a “bilinqual language” environment which lead them communicate effectively as young as two months old.
    I HAVE BEEN THERE AND DONE IT!
    Bernie

  • Parents who choose oral methods for their deaf or hard of hearing children are simply abusers. Hear me out on this.

    Just imagine a scenario: I, a deaf parent, have two hearing children and I refuse to place them in the public school system because I’m afraid that they will pick up on hearing culture, and hear spoken English. They will discover their true identity. I shelter them from interacting with their hearing peers and they are allowed to be only with deaf kids that sign. T.V. doesn’t exist in our house, as there are too many hearing people using their mouths to communicate. I punish my hearing children whenever they try to sneak by listening to music or using their voices. ASL is the only language allowed to use in my house. I don’t take them out in public to the grocery store or to the shopping mall because I don’t want my children to be tempted to use their voices or to witness hearing people in their everyday lives. I desire for my hearing children to be like me, as a deaf person. I want my hearing children to be a part of my culture only.

    If that’s the case..

    I would be investigated by the DCF and my hearing children would be taken from me when the public learns that I ban my hearing children to speak or to listen to any sounds in their surroundings and they are required to sign at all times. I would be investigated for neglect and for abuse of my hearing children’s rights.

    Yet…

    It’s ok for hearing parents on this dear earth to decide to ban their deaf children from learning American Sign Language.

    I’m at a loss for words.

    Shareable

  • What about this deaf boy? He has CIs, can speak, and is doing better than an average kid. He certainly isn’t “language deprived.” In case you wanted to chime in and say I don’t know him, I will use myself as another example. I am deaf, I can speak, and my English is fine. I know some Chinese as well. No language deprivation at all. Oh, I also learned ASL when I attended Gally. I have no problem picking up ASL at a “later stage in life.” I read Lisa Goldstein’s article and your biases have clouded your interpretation of what she wrote. Lisa doesn’t have a problem with Nyle advocating ASL. Her concern is Nyle promoting that ASL is the only approach. ASL is fine, but so is using CIs or hearing aids. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the attempt to learn to speak. Deaf is always touting “Deaf Can.” When it comes to learning to speak, it is suddenly “Deaf Can’t.” Why is that? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/11-year-old-boy-who-was-born-deaf-among-nations-top-spellers/

    • What about what deaf boy? I missed something there.
      But regarding Lisa’s bit with ASL, Nyle is NOT promoting ASL as the only approach; he’s simply promoting it as there is a real need for deaf kids to have a language, full stop. He’s advocating for biligualism. He also has nothing against CI or hearing aids – so I don’t understand the relevance of your comment there either.
      Now, I agree with another comment here with this post that Nyle’s trying to make ASL learning mandatory for deaf kids is like swinging the pendulum hard in the other direction so that it can fall somewhere in the middle.
      Lastly, glad you learned ASL fast later in life. I’m assuming you went to college when you were typically-aged, but even if you went when you were in your 40’s and learned it fast, kudos to you! Not my experience though. It’s grown harder for me to learn languages as I get older.

    • I think there is a misconception that CIs are successful for everyone. I know quite a few Deaf people who have CIs but needs ASL interpreting as well. It’s not a one size fits all type of thing…it should be whatever works for each individual Deaf person! I think Lisa was a tad extreme when she said that Nyle’s activism is dangerous. Not everyone has the success she had with lipreading and hearing devices…she made it sound like Nyle could hear but chose not to….there is no guarantee that hearing aids and CIs will make a Deaf person hear….it just not the reality. I agree using hearing aids and CIs are fine…but for some they are simply not successful, so ASL is their only viable option!

    • Thomasina,
      you belong to the top 10% on the statistical bell curve. You and your child can perform well no matter how you are educated, regardless of the degree of hearing inability (not to say “hearing loss”!) and electronic use of residual hearing.

      You do well despite the circumstances that harmed many other deaf children, such as depriving them of sign language. It is true, as verified statistically, that not all deaf children can master English or any other spoken language like a native English speaker, but every Deaf child can master ASL or any other signed language well … this when there is no neurological impairment.

      A spoken language as a FIRST language is difficult for most deaf children. No best educational approach can achieve this for most of them. Spoken language can be acquired with the aid of ASL as a second language. The same can be done with speech. It will be sort of like a second language, which can vary among the whole deaf population. However the net effect of the bilingual approach is the fact that much more Deaf children will master English better than any oral/aural approach has done so far.

      What Nyle says, to which I agree with my 70+ years of experience, basically: Your bet is better and indeed safer placed on the bilingual approach. That is what the language of “deprivation” as advocated by AGBell Association comes in.

      It is always WRONG to operate on “try this first, and if it fails, then try another way” and also WRONG on “EITHER and OR”, as the AGBell Association’s language of “options” bids.

      The safest thing is to operate on the principle “Do the safest now and work on the chancier other at the same time or a bit later”.

    • Thomasina,
      Lisa Goldstein is a LIAR. Nyle NEVER advocated ASL only. She knows this fact and still perpetuates the lie. LSL has become “Let’s Speak Lies” Lisa’s position is absolute monolingualism and monoculturalism of the elite. It is the oralist version of Aryanism of the Nazi dictatorship.

  • Thank you. All the love to you. Lisa and her peeps are simply butthurt by Nyle’s success. It’s time for us, the Deaf community, to shine.

  • Really… seriously… Nyle is a blessing to the Deaf World, period! Enough crabbing other deaf people… no more!
    We Deaf and deaf people need to be united period – for one common goal is to be accepted as human beings- all we wanted the world to do is to DEEP LISTEN to us Deaf people, and not think, yeah right…(yawn) – so be it!

  • To be honest, I don’t know any people who are deaf and I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your blog. Maybe because you life in a yurt off the grid and I’d love to do the same (hubby is a city/technology guy though). But I have always thought that if my child was born deaf, I’d immediately take a crash course in ASL Yes, I think it is a real advantage for them when a deaf person can eventually learn to read lips and speak well, too. But I would want my child to see me communicate with him/her immediately. I talked to my hearing babies all the time and I’d want to do the same for a deaf child. I would feel that it was somewhat necessary for their emotional well being, not to mention, as you say, that their ability to take on language and perhaps in many cases, their ability to develop thinking processes to some extent, depends upon the acquisition of language – any language.

    • You would be an amazing parent for a deaf child and it sounds like you are a very involved parent for your own children. Thank you!

  • Great article. I don’t know if you know this but this ignorant lady, Lisa Goldstein actually is the member for AG Bell. Go figures. She’s featured on AG Bell facebook page (May 13, I think) Just wanted to give you heads up. Makes sense why she’s saying all of these things….

  • This is fantastic. I am a hearing adult who works with D/deaf children, and I constantly see children who come to school (school for the Deaf) that have fallen through the cracks of the mainstream world. I am getting my degree to become a speech therapist, but with a language emphasis. I think teaching children language is far more important that teaching them to orally speak. I think getting more professionals in the field who understand the need of ASL over speech itself is really important. So many parents think if they implant their children, they will be ‘cured’ which is just not the case, but that is what they are told by doctors and other medical professionals. Anyways, I appreciate your article and thoughts.

  • Lol, so much fail in the comments. Apparently jumping to conclusions based on the title of an article is normal now…smh. I think schools mainstreaming deaf kids should make ASL a mandatory part of their curriculum in conjunction with English. All four of my hearing kids learned ASL before English in our home and they all are bilingual now. In fact, 3 of them are trilingual. I appreciate that Nyle is raising awareness of ASL as a foundational language for all deaf kids regardless of background. There are a lot of misconceptions about ASL and it’s important that people understand that ASL is an incredibly rich and nuanced language.

    Good article and perspective Meriah. Thanks for being an advocate for ASL.

  • “Nyle is trying to get states to pass a law that requires bilingualism for deaf people—ASL and English”.

    I’m all for the advocacy of ASL/English bilingualism, but requiring states or the government to pass a *law* that *forces* deaf children learn a specific language (ASL), and denying them or their parents the freedom of choice, is unconstitutional. There is already legal precedent preventing this idea from ever becoming reality. A student can request that the school provides bilingual instruction if the school doesn’t provide it, but a blanket enforcement upon those who do not request it is unconstitutional. The best the community can do is boost advocacy of bilingualism and ASL.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_rights#United_States

    • I think the real point is that ASL as a language is just as essential for a deaf child as English. I personally think ASL should be offered in schools which mainstream deaf kids. I am deaf and greatly regret not having the gift of ASL when I was younger. I learned English and had speech therapists work with me, but I had a very difficult time becoming part of the Deaf community and culture because I had no idea that this existed as I was growing up. ASL being required in schools really isn’t *forces* as much as it is a part of required learning in the same way English is. If ASL is the natural language of the Deaf Community, then there’s no reason for deaf kids to adopt the language of the group they identify with. It’s unfortunate and a travesty that AGB and those who think like him to deprive the Deaf of their culture and way of life.

      FWIW, the link you posted doesn’t make requiring ASL unconstitutional. It makes state restrictions on foreign language education unconstitutional. There’s nothing that says we can’t make ASL a mandatory part of the curriculum in the same way English already is.

    • In California, there is a law that all blind students must be taught braille in schools. While I recognize that there is a huge difference between blind/braille and deaf/ASL, I think it’s a step in the right direction. If a Deaf person ended up not needing ASL later in life, there is no harm done.

      • Thank you SO MUCH for this comment – this was actually what was teasing the back of my brain, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. This is it, exactly: if they don’t need it later in life, no harm done. But in the meantime, it could really save some kids from falling through the linguistic cracks. THANK YOU.

      • To be honest, I have yet to meet someone who already learned ASL not need it later in life, and I know a lot of deaf people. There is no reason I can see where ASL would cease to be useful. But excellent point. If Braille must be taught, then it stands to reason that ASL should be as well.

        • I have the pleasure of working with other Deaf advocates and media mavens, and we have met a lot of Deaf people from oral backgrounds who are unhappy about heir upbringings, and also the poor communication they’ve had with their parents—who were advised by audiologists and AGBell and its allies. My boss told me that he knows many Deaf people who were raised/educated orally and who chose to learn ASL and join the Deaf community. On the other hand, we personally know NO ONE who learned ASL as a child and who later became an oralist.

    • Oneiro,
      but they have forbidden deaf children to learn sign language. They did say “law” or “government” ordered them not to use sign language. A strong evidence is that no deaf person was allowed to be trained as a teacher of the deaf and employed in some public schools for the deaf.

    • I understand your angle of argument. Forcing both languages on every deaf child may be unconstitutional. But so is denying deaf children the right to their natural language. This is much worse and is against the universal human right. See the UN Convention of the Rights for the Disabled.

      Therefore the bill that DiMarco is advocating is pro Human Right and should be incorporated in any country’s constitution.

  • Thank. You.! Too many people think that they know what is best and want to blame the schools first. Language starts at home, not at school. It is taught at school, but children only spend a small part of their day at school. Most do not even come to school until they are 3 to 5 years old, and all of those years before 3 to 5 years old are spent at home. Parents have to be involved, no matter what options are chosen. Adding ASL does not hurt anything and can improve everything. Parents do have to buy in and invest in their children by learning how to communicate with them. It should be a requirement for parents to learn and use whatever options they choose for their child WITH their child. The pay-off is greater success and a happier child when language is available to them.

    That said… is ASL the only option? No. Can we use more than one option, such as cued speech, signed English, or lipreading? YES! Can we add ASL to any of those? Of course! Use anything and everything that will help your child! Parents should NOT leave their children in the dark or without a significant way to communicate. ASL is a fabulous concept based language that allows us as Deaf people to express ourselves vividly and exactly how we mean to say something.

    Bless you for your post, and yes, READ the post!

    • Katie,
      the problem here lies in presenting ASL as an option and English as mandatory. A lie has also been perpetuated by the oralists that we present ASL as the ONLY option and English as secondary. This EITHER – OR and TRY-THIS-IF-IT-FAILS-THEN-DO-THAT principles are what the oralists present to parents of deaf children, all couched as “options”, which by itself is a LIE.

      Hearing American kids are not given the English or Spanish or one of the Native American languages as options. No such an option exists! ASL should never been presented as an option.

      Cued Speech, Signed English, speech

      • in the post above, the last sentence should read:

        Cued Speech, Signed English, and speech can be regarded as options.

  • No dangerous, Stop negative alots. Deaf is natural mother and pretty Sign Language. Too Baby learn first ASL that they are growing become itelligent.

  • Many hearing parents don’t know what is best for their deaf babies/ kids so there needs to have a law to require that they have accessibility to bilingualism: American Sign Language and English!

  • If this article is also done in ASL, probably more people will be able to sniff the small whiffs of sarcasm loaded title… Just saying, because English isn’t everyone’s first language.

    Other than that, great article!

    • Oh man… I wish I could do that!! That would be SO AWESOME!!!
      And that makes sense about English not being everyone’s first language so not necessarily picking up on the sarcasm. I do think though that if they read it, it would be pretty clear that I’m pro-ASL. At least, I hope that’s clear

  • My gosh…. You are the WORSE deaf person I ever known! Bigot and ignorant you are about the understanding of language Deaf people can acquire better than deaf oralists. I was born deaf and my parents founded two deaf oral schools in Los Angeles. They regretted that speech being taught that deaf children lack the language they should have acquired at an early age.

    You never accept the studies by scientists and linguistics prove deaf children acquire language at a younger age than oralists do.mso stop backstabblng Nyle and the Deaf Community.

    I hope My former association, AGB, burnt in ashes!

    Eric Scheir

    • Hey Eric, the title of this post was sarcastic. I don’t think you read the content. Lisa Goldstein – the author that I linked to in this post who is the one who thinks Nyle is dangerous, etc, had her post published on The Establishment (also linked in my post). They don’t allow comments though, can you believe it?
      Turns out, Lisa Goldstein is on the board for AGB. Makes a lot of sense now, doesn’t it…. (sigh).

      • @Meriah,
        it looks like, the best would be for you to change the lengthy heading. Can’t you do it? Many misunderstood it as I did first. I was bewildered as I read through, trying to figure out what you meant. So that was laboriously. I need o read it fast, since I have so many to read. Sarcasm goes better in the text, not in the headline. A headline needs to be informative on the content, not a commentary of something, which goes inside the article. It can be witty, though.

        • I’m going to say this about the title: it gets people talking about this extremely important issue. I was thinking of changing it before, but not now, since it is pretty clearly still stirring the pot. I want the conversation on this; it is incredibly helpful for me to understand what people think about this, and how far we still have to go.

  • Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! The comments about the research are FALSE!!!!! Let me say this clearly! The comments about the research are FALSE!!!! For good language acquisition you need to acquire language at a young age you can learn sign language later. Each family of a child who is deaf should decide and if and when their child should learn to sign depending on their individual needs and abilities not some organization or government mandate.

    • Gary Kirsch, you cheery-picked the info from one side of the Kirschbaum!

      Spoken language has been taught FIRST since 250 years everywhere. Oral schools are everywhere. Round 90% of them have been educated by oral means. Evidence: 3rd to 4th grade reading level on the average, almost everywhere. Clearly oralism has failed them. Clearly parents were making incorrect decisions. You as a parent are apt to make injurious decisions for your deaf child.

      Evidence favoring bilingual education of deaf children has been around, the most potent one being the deaf children of Deaf parents who are bilingual and have far better command in the spoken language of the country. Another one from the 1980’s comes from Sweden, where by a national law in 1981, all deaf children must learn sign language first and resources are provided from public funds to hearing parents to learn Swedish Sign Language. All schools in Sweden are bilingual where teachers are tested for their signing competence. Then the children were tested on academic areas, reading and writing just at the end of their elementary education. The averages are unheard of even in the US and UK which show the deaf children perform at par with hearing students of equivalent age: their average reading level in Swedish is 8th grade. (K.Heiling, “The Development of Deaf Children”, 1995, Signum Verlag, Hamburg)

  • That woman is stupid I grew up hearing family and mainstreamed it hurt me in a big way no deaf identity etc….
    I could argue with her I’d win she knows it’s nothing of the deaf world I know both worlds now
    She needs shut up let nyle do his thing that beautiful hunkey meriah
    here’s my say about you
    you ugly person with a bad sick view on deaf
    you ignorant idiot
    nyle is doing the deaf a favor
    here’s my story stupid meriah

  • It should be mandatory for all parents of deaf children to be educated about ASL (or BSL or similar, depending on region), and it should be mandatory that ASL classes accessible to all deaf people, including adults who may have missed out in their youth.

    As for making it mandatory for all deaf children to acquire ASL, am not sure, as I know several profoundly deaf people who plain refused to learn BSL in childhood and in adulthood, against the wishes of their parents and schools – their reasoning being that they wished to focus on English alone. They’d have left schooling altogether had they been forced to learn BSL. I have NO idea how their English is so perfect and rich, as they do not use CIs and do not really hear much with hearing aides other than that *someone* is talking to them.

    That said, BSL seems to me to be far less organic and intuitive than ASL, and is further removed from English. Nor is it as beautiful as ASL.

    I’d be much more supportive of implementing ASL for ALL students, hearing or not, verbal or not, as another invaluable way to communicate with each other. Even babies who are a long way from being able to speak can learn a considerable amount of sign, and this develops the rest of their language acquisition.

    • How interesting. I’m completely unfamiliar with BSL.

      I have heard of people not wanting to learn sign. I know that when I was a teenager, I absolutely did NOT want to, because I was struggling so hard to “pass” and because being deaf was something to be avoided at all costs. Learning ASL at that time would have been saying that I was a failure and couldn’t succeed.

      SO maybe in addition to – or starting with? – education in a signed language, kids really need to know more about deaf culture, deaf pride, deaf history, etc. To be able to look at ourselves, say, “hey, this is WHO I AM”, no need to try and pass for hearing. Feel the pride. Then maybe attitudes from people who don’t want to learn signed language might change. Just a thought.

    • Audism can be internalized by deaf children. Many black people shun being Black and try to pass as a White (like Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court). They are called Oreos (cookies,outside black and inside white). In ASL we have a sign for some Deafies THINK-HEARING to mean “Wannabe Hearing”.

  • We have a simliar debate over here in Sweden, not as heated as the American one but still in existence. Two opposing sides that will, unfortunately, probably never understand each other. Activist oralists in one corner and activist Deaf in the other. Stuck in the middle are the ones who are trying to decide what is right for their children. This decision is made harder by the stigma surrounding the whole oral/sign language debate/debacle. We have professionals and organisations such as AG Bell basically saying using sign language is a sign of failure. We have Deaf people saying it’s child abuse to give ones child a CI and that hearing parents wanting their child to have access to sound are audists.

    Making a decision as to what to do for my deaf child was really easy. Give him both. He has a CI which enables him access to the hearing society. He is not hearing and never will be BUT he can function without having to use a proxy. He, and we, are also learning SSL (Swedish Sign Language). After all, without his tech gear he is deaf. There is absolutely no harm in aquiring multiple languages, be they oral or manual. As a bonus for us, SSL works as a bridge between his two oral languages, Swedish and English.

    Galluadet just released exiting researchin neuroscience and language acquisition.

    “The more language exposure, the better. The brain does not discriminate; it accepts both sound and sign.” – Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto

    http://vl2.gallaudet.edu/news/headlines/vl2-revolutionizing-science-learning/

    • I am completely with you, and applaud your decision to give your son both! Really, what harm is there in acquiring multiple languages? You are giving him so much.

      The article that I quoted in this post has a new spin – the author of the article works for AG Bell (she is on the Board), and has a long history with them. She also has a long history of attacking deaf people who are in positions of celebrity and use ASL. So, it kind of flavors it all differently. She has an agenda in promoting AG Bell’s philosophy.

      Thanks for your comment and the link – I really appreciate it.

  • Hello! I’m not deaf but hearing 100% and I will def teach my child ASL and English if they are deaf!!!

    I grew up with 3 languages- our local dialect, English and my country’s national language. I remember in grade school being taught ASL alphabet and signs… and nearly 20 years later I still remember that! I remember it better than the Mandarin or the Italian courses I took in college. I can vouch that teaching language in childhood is VERY important. It sticks with a person until they are adults. It’s not just with deaf but even with hearing people.

    It’s a shame that deaf community is fighting this divide.. In my country, it is worse since we are a poor country and deaf children especially born to poor areas get ignored. Most cant speak and most wont have hearing aids or ASL knowledge… I remember a deaf girl I saw once and she had hearing aids and trying to talk and her parents were ignoring her.. That is sad truth of what is happening in the world. There are parents that do what is easy for them.. Not what is best for their children. In the US, you are all very lucky you have someone that pushes for such things as language access.

  • Deaf kids do well only if their parents put in the time and effort to teach them a language. Be that sign or a spoken language. If hearing parents couldn’t be bothered or more likely find it very hard to learn sign as mature adults, something mentioned by many on this blog, then the child will never become proficient in sign. As over 90% of deaf kids are born to hearing parents who have spoken language as their first language of course they are going to opt for the easier option of technology and spoken language and an option that when done well produces extremely good outcomes. For a start the parents will have far more vocabulary than if they themselves are only one step ahead of the child in language acquisition. Saying that all deaf kids must be taught a signed language is wrong. All parents need support in what ever method they chose for their child. It is their decision. It is their right.

    • –“Deaf kids do well only if their parents put in the time and effort to teach them a language.”–

      Certainly, but even better would be to teach their kids 2 languages, not just one. Parents would be far less frustrated if they learned ASL and be able to communicate well with their child. I know this from my own personal experience growing up as a deaf child in a hearing family as well as raising my own kids.

      –“If hearing parents couldn’t be bothered or more likely find it very hard to learn sign as mature adults, something mentioned by many on this blog, then the child will never become proficient in sign.”–

      That’s not true. My parents didn’t bother to teach me ASL, but I became proficient in ASL later in life. I personally know many deaf kids who learned ASL at deaf schools they attended, and they speak ASL quite well. Learning ASL is hard, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.

      –“As over 90% of deaf kids are born to hearing parents who have spoken language as their first language of course they are going to opt for the easier option of technology and spoken language and an option that when done well produces extremely good outcomes.”–

      Spoken language and technology has it’s limitations. I was raised in a hearing family, and although my parents meant well by giving me hearing aids and I worked with speech therapists for much of my early childhood, my biggest regret growing up was not learning ASL. I didn’t start speaking ASL fluently until my late 20s when I began immersing myself into a culture I knew very little about. I’ve always loved my parents, but it was their mistake to not introduce me to ASL and the deaf culture at a young age. I never felt like I fit in either the hearing or deaf world. It was really hard for me for a long time. The reason I felt that way was because I couldn’t communicate well with other deaf people because of my poor signing skills. I couldn’t communicate well in the hearing world because I missed so much of what hearing people were saying. If it were up to me, I would make ASL a required class (like English already is) for all deaf kids in mainstream schools.

      –“For a start the parents will have far more vocabulary than if they themselves are only one step ahead of the child in language acquisition.”–

      Your comment makes absolutely no sense. No parent is just one step ahead of the child in language acquisition, unless they are learning ASL along with their child. The problem many parents have is twofold, one, a lack of education and/or resources about the benefits and advantages of teaching young deaf kids ASL at an early age, and two, unfortunately, a lot of parents don’t spend enough time to learn ASL themselves. If they really cared about their deaf children, they would take the time to learn to communicate well with them when they are young.

      –“Saying that all deaf kids must be taught a signed language is wrong. All parents need support in what ever method they chose for their child. It is their decision. It is their right.”–

      No parent has a right to deprive their child linguistically. You say it’s the parent’s right, yet their refusal to teach their deaf kids ASL deprives said kids of the rich rewards resulting from learning ASL. It also deprives them of their ability to fully experience all that the Deaf culture has to offer.

      • In a country like Australia that is the size of the USA but with a small population only 8,500 people use Auslan. That makes it very hard to to get immersion in a signing community.There used to be a couple of deaf schools but they have closed or are closing. There will always be children who technology doesn’t work for them and of course they need every opportunity to learn a language. In my experience kids in the last 10 years who have been given bilateral CI’s at 9 months old are fully integrated into main stream school. They are at the same level of their hearing peers, play sport, swim and communicate very easily with everyone around them. Their speech is as clear as the hearing kids around them. kUnfortunately a child with only Auslan as a language will most likely be the only kid at school who signs. There will be poorly attended workshops for the other kids or their parents. That child will have a fairly bleak time of it. Compared to my own daughter who started school already being able to read write due to great early intervention and good audiology. A CI at 10 made things even better for her and she graduated high school with good results including in French and could play the cello. She is now undertaking research for her PhD in a foreign developing country and is coping very well. She has done a few Auslan classes and mentors both signing and oral deaf teenagers. She always says how lucky she was to born when the technology was there to help her and she had parents that supported her. We would have been parents who would have been only one step ahead of her if Auslan was our only option. Her language acquisition would have been greatly stunted because of this. I have no affiliation with any hearing aid or CI company. We just did what we thought was best for our daughter and it has proven so. I have absolutely no objection to children learning a signed language from birth if that is what their parents want to do and are comfortable with. We weren’t as learning another language at time when we had 3 small children was going to be very difficult. We are certainly not alone in this way of thinking. Due to universal free health care in Australia deaf babies can get aids and CI’s for free. Also subsidised early intervention. Auslan is also available. The majority of parents chose the technology path.

        • Cathy, I appreciate the thorough post. The environment in Australia, as you state, is far different than here in the US. There has long been a cultural struggle with whether CIs are appropriate. I personally have considered CIs, but having talked with many who have had first hand experiences with them, the results have been decidedly mixed. I’ve seen enough examples of either improperly performed CI surgeries and/or poor performance results that I’m not comfortable undergoing the surgery myself. CIs don’t work for everyone, but I do agree they work for a lot of people.

          Unfortunately, here in the US, not everyone has health insurance, and even then, not all health insurance covers CIs, and never hearing aids as far as I know. I’ve always had to purchase my own aids, which is partly why I am no longer wearing them, although I’d really like to.

          It’s really disappointing to see deaf schools closing. It’s a key time in life where deaf people can come together and be communal and feel free to communicate at a more full level than in the mainstream environment. The opportunities become more limited as they get older.

          While I greatly sympathize with the situation in Australia, I also think sign language should be a central part of parents’ communication with their deaf children, whether or not he/she has CI or hearing aids. Being bilingual opens more doors for kids to communicate with the peers, but it also enhances learning skills. We have to start somewhere.

          There’s something compelling about being in an environment where we all feel like a part of a larger organic group of people who can relate to one another on many levels. It’s my hope that every deaf person could experience on some level at some point in their lives. For me, there’s nothing like it.

          Thank you for your perspective.

          • My daughter spent 12 months at a deaf residential school in England as a gap year experience after finishing school. Again she came home from that experience thanking us for integrating her in an ordinary school. Her words were that it made her achieve so much more as she worked hard to keep up with her hearing peers. Something she felt was missing in the English school. CI’s are definitely more likely to work when given to very young children rather than adults. And yes they fail at times. They can be replaced. It is such a shame that people cannot get necessary medical aids in the US. Be it hearing aids or anything else required for a healthy life. People in Australia get hearing aids and CI’s with upgrades as required, all repairs and tests and full audiology needs from birth to age 26. And also when on a government pension. Everyone needs to get over this them and us arguments. Everyone is doing what they think is best and that is good. Signed languages are great for some as technology is great for others. All this every deaf child should have a signed language is just as bad as saying every deaf child should have a CI. Both have there place and both options need to be available.

  • I born deaf to hearing parents in 1956, there were limited information (not like today!!) I didn’t learn ASL until I enrolled the deaf school. Before that, I was in mainstreaming school, went to speech therapy, tried to learn to speech, but I am oral-failure. That’s ok. That’s me. Anyway, I learned ASL, yes, I was flourish! My grades were improving and my parents were thrilled that I was able to enroll the college! My mother decided to learn ASL, even become an interpreter and deaf advocate! I was blessed to have her. I thanked her for her hard efforts for my education. She tried oralism, but saw that it was not working out for me, so allowed me to learn ASL.

    Actually, it depended on these individuals! I have few friends, even my former husband, were successful with oralism, still using sign language! I am blessed to use ASL… now… I have a Deaf daughter which surprised me. She did well, she is now teaching English at Deaf school! Amazing. No, I don’t think ASL is dangerous, either with Nyle. Amen.

    Thank you

  • I wonder if those deaf folks with a negative outlook of being Deaf and praising mono-lingulaism would be willing to listen to CODAs on the issue of true bi-lingualism? I thought the article this writer quoted was ridiculous; she cited that ASL/Bilingualism research was biased but failed to notice the irony of the research she used that was done by an audiologist. Who has more monetary inspiration to push technology? Certainly not the ASL users. ASL is free.

    • I think a really important fact has emerged in this all – Lisa (the author of the article I quoted in this post) is on the board with AG Bell. It’s completely in her financial interest to be promoting oralism. She also evidently has a long history with AGB, as well as with attacking deaf people who are on reality shows.

      • You do realize that most nonprofit board members are volunteers who at most receive a small stipend, right?

        Lisa and her family of course have been involved with AGBell since she was very young, since the families of many oral deaf adults over the age of 30’s first learned that oral deaf education even existed through AGBell. They also happen to be one of the nicest and most charitable families you’ve ever met, and I can say with almost 100% certainty that they’ve done more for individuals of ALL types of disabilities than anyone on this thread.

  • High-five! What a great article, Meriah! Those who are on the same side: supporting ASL, please read the entire article before you hash out to Meriah! (Sorry about that, Meriah.) In response to some folks about keeping ASL as an option since there might be no buy-in’s from parents by not learning ASL. I get your concerns. I do. However, it is NOT. an option for any of our kids, who are born here in the US, to learn English. Period. Likewise, Deaf children should have the right to learn ASL. Trying to find a middle ground has been going on far too long. At whose expense, you may ask. Deaf kids! Why are we punishing them? Please help me understand, because I simply don’t understand why people are terrified to make this a requirement? If parents want to have their kids learn speech, by all means, so ahead! Learning ASL does NOT impairs, delays, damages, (fill in the blank) kids’ speech!!! Where’s logic behind that!?! If parents dump them into ASL programs without learning a sign. Hate to be crude, but that’s bad parenting. It happens everywhere in different forms and shapes. At least, the Deaf kids will NOT be harmed in the process. Stop making it about us, but let’s focus on what DEAF kids need. This brings NCLB (No Child Left Behind) in a new light. Don’t hash me with how much you hate this law or Bush. I don’t like it either, but the idea behind the slogan remains true. We could rephrase it to NDCLB. Enough is enough.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dana!(and I love your name – it’s also my brother’s name!)
      I am on the same page as you. It’s the Deaf kids that are paying the price. Not right. Enough is enough.

      • I like my name too, even though I’m a girl. 😉 Thanks again for the article. Truly appreciate you taking the time to use your gift of writing to create “noise” for the rest of us, who like me for instance, don’t know how to rebut as eloquently as you. You rock! 🙂

  • goldstein’s article has gotta be one of the dumbest and most ignorant things i’ve read in a very long time. i’m a teacher of deaf students, and i’ve seen time and time again how depriving deaf kids of a fully-accessible language (asl) hurts them.

    i don’t care what anyone says: deaf kids should learn and use asl. if parents want their child to take speech and auditory training in addition to learning asl, go for it. if the kids grow up having the ability to hear and speak, more power to them. they can decide for themselves to stop using asl if they wish. no harm done.

    but what about all the older kids that struggle with language simply because parents made a choice to teach them speech and auditory training without asl? it affects these kids FOR LIFE. is it worth the gamble? i say definitely not.

    i know a few people that have made the choice to have their deaf child learn speech without using asl with varying degrees of success. however, it always, always makes me cringe for the simple fact it was a gamble to begin with. YOU DON’T GAMBLE WITH A CHILD WHEN IT COMES TO LANGUAGE ACQUISITION, DAMMIT!!

  • Thank you Meruah for speaking up on this crucial issue and for exposing Lisa Goldstein’s true agenda. I have an over 90% decibel hearing loss in both ears. I’m currently 41 years old. I wore duel hearing aids from the ages of 3 to 17 years old. I grew up with SEE (Signed Exact English) and years of speech therapy. I always felt list, not knowing where I belonged. My hearing aids made me stand out like a sore sight amongst my hearing peers, my “hearing” mindset kept me isolated from the rich Deaf culture. For most of my young adulthood. I thought very much like Lisa Goldstein, that ASL was not good for deaf people. I was embarrassed to sign in public
    Even today I HATE using speech in public because I have a “deaf accent”. Years if speech therapy and hearing aids certainly didn’t magically turn me into a hearing person. Finally, in my late 30s, I started accepting myself as I am, not as others want me to be. I finally started opening my eyes to what the Deaf culture and its native language truly truly means. I used to be where Lisa Goldstein is at, but now I know better. She, sadly, is still trapped in the darkness of ignorance and negative prejudice. Someday she may wake up like I did. Thank you again for sharing your views on this.

    -Lisa B.

    • Lisa, I have some similarities. I learned very basic ASL, fingerspelling and introductory signs when I was a kid. I have a 90+ db hearing loss and was semi-functional with hearing aids in school, in addition to the speech therapy. When I speak orally, most people have no idea that I’m deaf. But even with good speech, I never fit in the hearing world. I always felt out of place. It wasn’t until many years later after I graduated college and visited Gally for the first time where I felt like I was “home”. I wish I had learned ASL when I was younger. It would have saved me a lot of grief over the years. Learning from my own experience, I want to be an advocate for ASL and for the Deaf community.

      It took me a while to learn, not only ASL, but also about the rich history of Gallaudet, Clerc, Cogswell, AGBell and those influencers in shaping the Deaf culture as it exists today. Thank you for your post Lisa.

  • I’m sure that you’re already familiar with AGBell President Meredith Sugar’s hypocritical attack on Nyle DiMarco for his public stance on Deaf children’s language rights. So for Lisa Goldstein to take the attack to a new level (I really mean a new low) was, I suppose, inevitable. And since she’s oral-deaf, she can claim to be a courageous, independent-thinking victim of “Deaf Culture extremists.” Note that her blogpost attacking Nyle says nothing about her participation on AGBell’s board, nor her predilection for attacking Deaf people on reality shows, nor her agenda of promoting AGBell. But her bias is obvious.

    The Deaf community is outraged (that’s really too mild a term, but you get the idea) by the way Sugar and AGBell handled the avalanche of protests from Deaf people. Gallaudet University’s Student Body Government requested a meeting with her and/or AGBell representatives, and received no response. (The Volta Bureau and Gallaudet University are both located in Washington, DC, so AGBell could not have argued that the distance made such a meeting impractical.) Then Sugar posted another hypocritical, dishonest, spin-filled letter (supposedly) calling for “respectful and open dialogue.” Goldstein says nothing about that, naturally. Yeah, our blood is still boiling.

    I was initially thrown off by the title of your blogpost, but I’m glad that I read the whole thing. Interesting that anyone can post comments here (an open forum), but Goldstein’s blogpost allows no comments to be posted.

    I just did a quick re-check of AGBell’s “community” Facebook page.Not a single mention of Nyle. (But there were several posts lauding an oral-deaf, mainstreamed fifth-grader with bilateral cochlear implants who made it to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.) The threads that were posted there in April (promoting Sugar’s attacks, but with numerous rebuttals from Deaf people) have long since been removed, but the many one-star reviews posted by survivors of AGBell’s approach are still there.

    Ms. Nichols, you nailed it.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. WOW. There is so much to this story, it’s mind-boggling.
      I deeply appreciate your compliment as well. Thank you.

    • Yeah, par for the course for AGB though. Their intolerance towards ASL and the deaf community is appalling, but not surprising. It’s a travesty that so many deaf kids grow up not even aware of ASL as a true linguistic option alongside English. The either/or mono-linguists are just closed minded and intellectually lazy. Sad but true.

      The good news is that times are changing and more and more people are embracing ASL as a true language to not only learn, but immerse into the Deaf culture.

  • Thank you, Ms. Nichols and Draxsdale.

    It’s obvious that AGBell perceives Nyle DiMarco’s public prominence, and his unapologetic Deaf-centered advocacy, as a threat. Meredith Sugar feels threatened. Lisa Goldstein, although she doesn’t admit this, likewise feels threatened. Nyle’s celebrity, his appearance in the mass media, with some good, positive coverage, is rattling AGBell’s smug and arrogant marketing machine.

    Take a good look at that machine. AGBell has relied on censorship to quash dissenting views, which is why we have never seen any posts in its own media from angry, frustrated survivors of the kind of oral-auditory/LSL approach it approves and promotes. In AGBell’s tightly controlled media, these people do not exist. LSL/CI failures do not exist. Language-deprived Deaf children, teens, and adults do not exist. AGBell renders them invisible. Any Deaf persons who speak ASL as a first and cherished language, who promote ASL/English bilingualism, who are visible in the public eye, must be dissed. Deaf people who protest AGBell’s monolingual, hearing-centered approach are dissed as “Deaf Culture extremists.” So I’m wondering: if we’re the extremists, then just who are the “moderates”? AGBellers?

    Along comes Nyle, an unignorable threat. AGBell can’t censor him, can’t render him invisible, so what do they do? They discredit him. Note the slanted language in Lisa Goldstein’s blogpost. It is thinly-veiled hate speech. It’s not honest criticism, it’s an attempt to render Nyle, and the rest of us, invisible. But, as much as Goldstein and Sugar and the rest of them want Nyle and the Deaf community to shut up, go away, and disappear, we are not going to do so.

  • FYI to commenters, there is a comments section on
    The Establishment’s article but it is on
    Facebook. There is a link at the bottom of Lisa’s article. Lots of excellent comments and commentary there.

  • I went to SEE school and oral school on IEP, including public school and two private schools without being on IEP and I am hearing and speech-impaired. Frist of all all my schoolmates at both deaf schools are deafmute, not just deaf. That something that many of “Deaf” people are lost with our ID. AGBell removed our 2nd disability that designated our two disabilities to one to encourage us to speak. She, the author of this article, is talking about “window opportunity” closed before about age of 12. Any pupil didn’t get “acquire language” of learned to use “use words/signs” and “comprehend words/signs” before window opportunity closed, they are screwed. Even AG Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. announced to public in 2000’s that CI don’t help deafmute pupils to level up with hearing peer of getting “acquire language.” That information aren’t educate to parents of just born deaf baby but with with the incorrect information due to CI doctors and local school system didn’t want to see the tax money go to ASL schools as my Mom fought them off to do what best for me. In Massachusetts, I met one person, who was part of EHDI, put her foot in mouth, that the state of Massachusetts been encourage parents of just born baby to get their deaf born kid on CI and so on, assumed that I am all for oral and CI because I speak so well. Not only there in Massachusetts, in Florida where people on state’s payroll told other people on the state’s payroll not to any deafmute people who don’t have CI nor able to speak well but those who can and have CI. I got inside information and not only just happen in just two states, happen in others states in may different way of practice “racism” toward deafmute people. Those who rejecting the “racism,” didn’t want to risk their job and life and family because they are already clash with this issues and chose to being bad side for the sake of keeping income flowing to pay for house, car and so on. I already giving up my life for deafmute community, for just short time, mostly to informing parents of just born baby, but I came under attacked by lot of friends with CI doctors and those who anti-ASL and back out and burned out without getting support from ASL community. They are scared to lose their job to skilled ASL workers to bring up deafmute pupil the right way to level up with hearing peer. That something we need to fight for next generation of deafmute pupil. Something that I wonder if I should get back into as activist, again, for ASL community.

    • You use ‘deafmute’ repeatedly. It is wholly unimportant to mention the speaking inability each time. It is an audist term in the sense that speech is the only means of communication, which by inference would also mean “having no language” or “languageless”. The word ‘mute’ should also apply to hearing people who do not sign. We don’t do this sort of stupidity. Observe, there is no one-sign term in ASL and any other sign language to mean “mute in sign language”. Why must this audistic word be used? Let us restrict the word to mean “turn off sound” as on the remote control.

  • 28 years ago Deaf President Now happened. Right at the time my 3 month old baby was diagnosed as completely deaf. Luckily, we were guided to 2 of the most knowledgeable doctors who dealt with deafness. Doctors Robert Ruben and Isabelle Rappin. After much testing, it was determined that S. would not benefit from using hearing aids. We were advised to take out girl home, love and enjoy her and sign to her EVERY EVERY EVERY day. Language was the key to everything. Not speech, LANGUAGE. To this day, I thank God for their wise counsel and know that we were given the very best advice.

    That being said, I would like to express my appreciation for the work Nyle DeMarco and his group are doing to bring awareness to the importance of LANGUAGE acquisition for deaf children from infancy on. Just like Deaf President Now changed the course of deaf culture and education, I am hoping this new movement will make choices, decisions and the future of deaf children even more successful.

  • Carrie King responds to Lisa Goldstein’s article:

    The author has neglected to mention the countless numbers of hours she was placed into speech therapy and the countless number of hours which were taken from her in school, private speech lessons, audiologist appointments, lip-reading etc. All of that time could have been spent being a surrounded by her natural born right to visual language. Understanding, comprehending, and acquiring her natural language. Why should any child endure the constant struggles of blowing enough air through the lips to pronounce the letter P…… How does learning the right movements of the mouth, vocal chords and tongue help social and emotional development?

    The author states that Nyles platform will be dangerous to the Deaf community,…… I have a very very difficult time understanding her reasoning behind this. Bilingual education has been proven successful in many schools for the Deaf nation wide. A deaf child should be exposed to his/her natural visual language!

    The author also fails to mention the statistics on lip-reading efficiency…… In the perfect conditions, even the best lip reader has less than 80% accuracy of what is visibly being spoken on the lips….. I would not want to go through life missing 20% or more of everything going on around me. With ASL you don’t have to guess, or fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle to get the full picture…..it’s already visual the concept is there….. All hearing parents of deaf kids should learn and share in the journey to discovering their child’s natural language and Participate in a community which celebrates and takes pride in Deaf Culture. A child who is raised with a positive and healthy view of their deafness and of sign language is much more capable of success as opposed to the majority of Oral Failures……. As an educator and mentor, I have seen students who have fallen through the cracks of the educational system….. They have been failed by the system which has been established primarily of hearing people who view deafness as something to cure. Can you change the color of a black or African Americans skin color so he/she can fit in? No! The same is like a leopard who tries to change his spots…. No matter how hard he/she tries, they will always be a leopard …… The same can be true for a deaf/Deaf child….. Even the best of technology once removed or taken off doesn’t remove their deafness…..

    It is too bad the author of this article feels the way she does…….Is there underlying anger that has made her bitter? Maybe she had an unpleasant experience with culturally Deaf people? This tends to be the case with Oralists…..for so long they have been taught that sign language is wrong, it’s bad, it’s taboo, it impedes ones ability to read and write English…… They are taught that deaf people who lip read, speak, read and write well will be accepted better by the hearing world. They also look down upon the schools for the Deaf that promote ASL….. Sad!

    It’s myths like this and many more which prohibit the shift in thinking that needs to take place in order for change to occur. No one is taking away a hearing families right to choose, it’s allowing these parents to understand and be shown that there is a wonderful language and culture out there which their child has the opportunity to thrive in.

    Lisa Golsteins article was fueled by overtones of regret, anger, hurt, and much more. Hopefully she too will work her way towards acceptance and develop her own positive Deaf identity. Learn to sign….. There is nothing wrong with learning a third and forth language. In fact studies have shown that people who are fluent in more than one language have higher IQ’s.

    Thank you Nyle DiMarco for unlocking the silence and throwing the doors of acceptance and equality open for the Deaf community. Your strength, perseverance and true dedication to the cause bright national focus onto Deaf people and Deaf Education.

    The author states that Nyles platform will be harmful to the Deaf community,…… I have a very very difficult time understanding her reasoning behind this. Bilingual education has been proven successful in many schools for the Deaf. Why shouldn’t a deaf child be exposed to and given his/her natural visual language? The author also fails to mention the statistics on lip-reading efficiency…… In the perfect conditions, even the best lip reader has less than 80% accuracy of what is visibly being spoken on the lips….. I would not want to go through life missing 20% or more of everything going on around me. With ASL you don’t have to guess, or fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle to get the full picture…..it’s already visual the concept is there….. So hearing parents of deaf kids can learn and share in the journey to discovering their child’s natural language and thriving in a community which celebrates and takes pride in Deaf Culture. A child who is raised with a positive and healthy view of their deafness and of sign language is much more capable of success as opposed to the majority of Oral Failures……. As an educator and interpreter for many years I have seen those students who have fallen through the cracks of the educational system….. They have been failed by the system which has been established primarily of hearing people who view deafness as something to cure. Can you change the color of a black or African Americans skin color so he/she can fit in? No! A is much like a leopard who tries to change his spots…. No matter how hard he/she tries they will always be a leopard …… The same can be true for a deaf/Deaf child….. Even the best of technology once removed or taken off doesn’t remove their deafness…..

    It is too bad the author of this article feels the way she does…….is there underlying anger that has made her bitter or possibly an unpleasant experience with culturally Deaf people? This tends to be the case with Oralists…..for so long they have been taught that sign language is wrong, it’s bad, it’s taboo, it impedes ones ability to read and write English…… They are taught that deaf people who lip read, speak, read and write well will be accepted better by the hearing world.

    It’s myths like this which prohibit the shift in thinking. Change must take place in order for change to occur. No one is taking away a hearing families right to choose, it’s giving these parents an opportunity to understand and be shown that there is a wonderful language and culture out there which their child will thrive. Bilingualism assists in cognitive, social, emotional and linguistic development.

    This authors article was fueled by overtones of regret, anger, hurt, and much more. Hopefully she will work her way towards acceptance and develop her own positive Deaf identity.

    Thank you Nyle DiMarco for unlocking the silence and throwing the doors of acceptance and equality open for the Deaf community. Your strength, perseverance and true dedication to the cause have brought much needed focus to our community.

  • Allow me to express some background on how communications or language is vital for everyone no matter whether they’re hearing, Deaf, disabled.

    As a Deaf person whose 1st language is English due to inaccessibility and lack of information to parents & “professionals” on how to develop language for me, I learned the best I could with the tools available or given depending on how much work people assigned to “help” willing to put the effort into. With that, ASL, was not part of the effort in building foundation of language for me. I suffered with identity of being labeled “stupid” due to my deafness, poor pronounciations of words, jumbled sentences, poor understanding of environment. (See the problem?)

    Today, I’m college-educated, hold a management job. How is that possible? Well, I learned ASL in college, used it to help myself and everyone else just like what Nyle is doing, Marlee Matlin did. We need to remind everyone that language is the key to everyone’s success.

    Oh, one last statement, I raised my kids and taugh students, friends to learn as many languages as they want. ASL,Spanish, French, Japanese, Latin. My kids use it because they were exposed to ASL as infants to communicate first which is the visual aid and first learning tool to be develop. Students & friends learned because it helped them in their lives more successfully.

    So……no matter whose method is better than other, bottom line is, learn a language, Sign Language is a great language for everyone, is used in every country in the world, no barriers because, well, everyone communicates in Sign Language. Look around, it’s there.

  • Interesting, I visited the link that took me to Lisa Goldstien’s post. I found that it does not have a comment section. That validates my opinion that Lisa is perfectly happy living in her world of closed-minded ignorance.

    Thank you Meriah for pointing this article out and sharing your thoughts. I am Deaf, and reading Lisa’s background, I found a lot of similarities in my level of hearing and language acquisition with hers. Fortunately tho, I learned ASL too.

    However, what she fails to point out is that her level of deafness is unique. Some people who are Deaf just do not the residual hearing that gives them speech comprehension when wearing hearing aids or any other type of hearing amplification. It amazes me how many hearing, and deaf fail to understand that! If you can’t comprehend speech, spoken language will NOT be a viable option! And don’t get me started on lip-reading. The biggest joke of an option of them all.

    So, even though my speech comprehension is about 80% with hearing aids. I do far better with ASL as my supplement option for communication.

    Final note, my two oldest children are in Jr High, and both are scoring beyond their peers in language arts. My oldest, in 9th grade is already receiving scholarship offers from colleges because his language and writing skills are winning school district and State awards. Yet, English is his SECOND language!! I truly believe this is because he was already communicating with his parents before he turned 1 year of age. Thus giving him a solid grasp on language before his oral skills developed while turning into a toddler.

    ASL should be an option, whether to continue using that option after acquiring speaking skills, that is up to the individual. At least then, parents can communicate with their child and assess what would be best for them.

  • My Deaf son is 30. Thank God we didn’t listen to the AGB’s and oralists. We learned sign language with him. I even went through an interpreter training program. To this day, my ex husband and I are not fluent in ASL, but we have always had great communication with our son, who went to Gallaudet, got his masters, and now works for the Veteran’s Administration. He has a Deaf wife, a hearing son, and it happy and successful. I am proud of him, and proud of us too. Sign is CRITICAL!

  • I’m 48 and very hard of hearing. Deafness runs through my dad’s side of the family, and it worsens considerably with age. I was about 10 when it was first confirmed that I had a hearing loss and I was given a hearing aid. I never wore it. I guess I got through school okay because I loved reading and I’d learn a lot through books – especially about language. It wasn’t until I was about 18 and being social that I decided I needed to start wearing hearing aids so I could just ‘keep up’. Growing up with a dad who was also very hard of hearing meant that everyone at home talked louder, the tv was louder and so home life was fine. I think with friends I became domineering (according to one school report) so I would always know the topic of conversation or what was going on with us, or I’d choose what things to to because I didn’t hear what the other options were, or my hearing loss would make the other options too hard. Interestingly I’ve only realised in the last couple of years just how much being deaf has shaped my personality.I see why people think I’m a bully but I’m not. I’m just trying to cope.

    Today, I thank my parents for doing the best they could. However, in retrospect, I wish there had been an option to learn sign language. I wish I had been MADE to learn it, just like I wish my parents had MADE me continue to take music lessons. Give me the skill as a child when things are much easier to learn, then as an adult I can make my own choice whether or not to use it.

    One last thing – I HATE how sign language differs from country to country. We have a ‘standard’ language of English through many countries, yet there is American Sign Language, British Sign Language, and although the same two handed alphabet is used as in the BSL, Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and New Zealand Sign Language are considered different dialects of BSL and have many differences signs themselves. I’m not even sure how different International Sign Language is! So if I was to learn Auslan, I won’t necessarily understand a deaf NZ signer. I certainly wouldn’t understand an American TV show that had signing in, nor understand any International signing in a news story. This drives me crazy! What do I learn?

    PS. I’m so pro-Nyle DiMarco, I get goosebumps! 🙂

  • I totally agree with this article as a CODA ( Child Of Deaf Adults) who is now a senior – I worked many years as a free lance interpreter, also joined deaf organizations (in Canada). I also worked within the Education system here for over 30 years. I was the one called in when a child entered the district at the age of 5 or 6 with NO COMMUNICATION skills at all — these kids were so labelled – they acted out – but as soon as they had some form of communication — bang — frustrations lowered and they began to blossom. I was fortunate enough to work in one small school that permitted me to put up signs everywhere (over fountains, washroom doors, principal office) signs in ASL – Parents in that community all took the effort to learn some ASL so they could communicate. It was so totally awesome. I also started teaching infant signing — to hearing children and their families.. again – unbeleivable how little ones don’t throw tantrums when they can tell you what they want. Deaf or hearing. Okay that is my 2 cents worth. To me Total Communication from Birth is the only way.

  • Bravo. I have a child with Down syndrome who is hearing but we have sought out resources to teach sign to her so we can bridge the gap to vocal language. She has picked it up quickly and she learns the signs that we (the family) uses most. She is only two so she can’t sign well but it gives her an early language option to communicate with us. I feel the more options you have the better so why would you ever NOT want to teach a child every option to communicate?

    • That’s what really – and I mean, REALLY – confused me. Our daughter has Down syndrome too, and I see how active and involved so many families with a child with Down syndrome are, in teaching their child sign language. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that more parents of kids with Ds teach their children sign than actual parents of kids who are DEAF.

      • I have a nephew with Down’s Syndrome. He can hear but his speech is almost unintelligible. His stepmother was given the option of him learning ASL as a child, she refused because she could understand him. He is now a teen and the only people that can easily understand what he says is his immediate family.

        Now she wants for him to learn ASL, but he is refusing because he doesn’t understand that other people have difficult understanding his speech, and he doesn’t fully understand what that means for his future.

        I wish she had allowed him to learn ASL as a child, his life would be so much easier now. It would have also benefited her other children and the family as a whole.

  • To Susan Webb: I recognize your situation. But there are hundreds of mutually unintelligible oral languages throughout the world. So what do we do about mutually unintelligible sign languages? Compile or buy good sign-language dictionaries, support professional interpreters, and learn from real-life immersion. My boss first encountered Deaf Japanese people when he participated in the National Theatre of the Deaf summer program years back, and years later, when our company established a Japanese branch, became fluent in JSL. He did a lot of Webcamming with a Japanese colleague, and just absorbed it. HJe never took a formal course. He became fluent enough to deliver an address to a Japanese audience when DEAF LIFE Japan held its kickoff gala in Tokyo. But then, this guy is something of a wizard in JSL.

    I’ve read the monumental “Dictionary of BSL,” and enjoy studying different sign languages, to see how they differ. BSL and ASL are mutually unintelligible because they developed from different sources—ASL from LSF (“French Sign Language”), BSL from the British tradition. And ASL absorbed some Native American and foreign signs, too, so it’s different from LSF. I don’t know how to explain the disparity between NZSL and Auslan, except to wish that I knew both!

  • I am born deaf and raised in a hearing family. Did you know how many times I failed in speech test? How many times I failed to read lipreading words? How many times I have to guess at what they are saying, in lips or gestures? How many times I have been left out of my family’s reunion time, parties, and dinners? Did you know how many years it took me to graduated at my college despite lack of sign language nor visual communication? How many times my interpreters had to come all way through mountain, risking their life in all of seasons every time; one of them in hospital after a winter accident?

    But I grew up with learning Sign Language through my mother who learned Sign Language through my first teacher. My mom works as a teacher and one of the teachers at the high school where she works at, that teacher insisted that she send me to a oral-only school. But guess what, my mom didn’t and instead she send me to a deaf school. My life have been wonderful despite the difficult experiences when I faced the World after graduating my high school. When I was in a high school, one of my teachers accused her of forcing Implant Cochear on me. If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t have experienced what a wonderful both of the two worlds; the Hearing world and the Deaf world – despite the difficult parts.

    However, the incompleted communication between the Deaf and the Hearing is still always and will be the problem. There is only one out of my many families who knows Sign Language and that is my mother. Only one in my hearing family, my clans!

    I don’t wish to put all those pains that I have experiences since a baby on any other deaf kids. Deafness + Speech = Difficult. Sure, lipreading and speaking words, but you would always forever guessing and would tell them to slow down just to say what they say again. Sure I can speak, but it’s not as perfect as Hearing people speak. It’s always mispronouncing speech.

    Remember that.

  • U are an idiot. U obviously do not know anything so why bother saying anything. I do not wish for hearing people to make decisions for deaf people. You would not want that if the roles were reversed where the Deaf people could decide things for hearing people. Forcing us to accommodate you is not cool. Deprivation of our language is a form of abuse. Thank you.

  • I’m profoundly deaf and have been since about 18 months old, when I got Meningitis. Six months later, I went under the knife for a cochlear implant.

    The operation failed and the implant could not be installed. I wore hearing aids daily until I was ten and never heard a thing beyond annoying ‘blowing’ of indistinguishably varying intensities. People like Lisa fail to realise that the technology is nowhere near perfected. Now, another fifteen years later, the technology is still not there to enable a cochlear implant to be fitted to me. Short of radical concepts like stem cells, cloned organs and transplants, there is no “hope” for me to hear again – and even if they did, I would be far too old to learn to hear now, starting from square one. That part of my brain stimulated by sound, music, etc., has long since been reappropriated for other things.

    I really dislike the scar on the side of my skull. It feels like a Star of David, an inflicted physical symbol of my otherwise invisible “disability”. The only thing that operation was good for was how it destroyed my parents’ trust in medical advice regarding deafness and drove them into using sign language immediately thereafter. They had *both* attained a level 2 certificate before my fourth birthday.

    What I hate are unicultural unilinguists. They’re pathetic, small-minded, provincal people. If other languages are so dangerous, why teach foreign languages in schools at all? Some countries makes learning multiple languages mandatory or effectively so and these learned citizens quite clearly benefit from it. I know my younger hearing sister certainly benefited from being able to speak and sign – indeed, her very first word was signed. As far as I can tell, large governments have little interest in allowing sign language to proliferate – it’d make eavesdropping very difficult for them.

    My big regret? That I wasn’t taught more languages earlier. Only exposed to French age 11 and started being interested in German at 16. Ah well, c’est la vie. Und bitte entschuldige mein schlechtes Deutsch – ich begann spaet!

  • I did not read rest of your article. It’s moot. I am successful deaf oralist and I was isolated from hearing family and went mainstream high school without interpreter. I made top 1/4 of class. Yet I felt isolated and lonely. I learned ASL and it opened my eyes and able to understand 100 pct. while lip reading I had to guess 50 pct. I realized I missed out of family conversation and I missed out a lot in life due to lack of ASL.

    I support Nyle’s mission to acquire ASL for deaf babies

    • My article is only moot because it’s the same thing as what you are saying. I’m also oral, raised oral, and in love with ASL for what it gives me. I also am 100% behind Nyle. High five, sister. xoxo

  • I see an opportunity here that many may be missing. I will soon be 64 years old. I first took an interest in learning ASL back when I was in college. I tried taking a class in ASL at Gallaudet, but at that time the students were not very receptive to hearing people taking classes on their campus, and they made it very clear, they did not want me there.

    Fast forward to this year, when a young youth Pastor started giving free ASL classes to members of the church. I signed up and so did my 82 year old mother. I was surprised at the number of elderly, and teens, that signed up for the class. It was very short lived, because the church transferred him to a place with a greater need, so the classes ended. I still wanted to learn ASL and was lucky enough to get an ASL class at one of the local schools. I was even luckier to get an instructor that was deaf and she teaches SEE to deaf children.

    The one thing that I see, and it seems to be overlooked by many, is that huge numbers of hearing people want to learn ASL. Maybe the focus should be on tapping into those numbers, and incorporating sign language as a way of communication for both the hearing and the deaf.

I'm opinionated, friendly & chatty... I hope you are, too