May 2017 Issue
April 27, 2017

Letters: Using sign language at home gives deaf children a literacy advantage

Source: NYSUT United

In response to "Five Questions for Judy Granger" (NYSUT United, April issue), I would like to clarify a misconception about literacy development among deaf children of deaf parents. Deaf children of deaf parents, in fact, often arrive at school with more language experience and, thus, are more likely to perform better on measures of reading and writing skills than other deaf children.

Even though deaf children of deaf parents may not use spoken English on a daily basis, research shows there are advantages in English literacy development of having deaf parents.

Because deaf children can communicate with their deaf parents using American Sign Language in everyday conversations with the opportunities for incidental learning and expanded knowledge of the world, they are more likely to understand stories (i.e., story development, mood and messages) and recognize different ways the English print is used to convey messages (i.e., capitalized words to express strong emotion).

Thus, using American Sign Language as a first language with their parents is an asset, not a challenge, to learning to read and write in English.

— Debra Cole, high school teacher, Lexington School for the Deaf

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