Chapter Two continued...
ConclusionsWe must give consideration to verbal thinking and the symbols that lead themselves to verbal mediation (sign, speech, print) in the overall picture of cognition of deaf individuals. Natural sign language is both necessary and sufficie I have argued that the fulfillment of a signed language mandate would require that the more knowledgeable others of the teaching/learning dyad be bilingually fluent in the academic registers of natural signed language, signed forms of the national language, and be academically literate. Rodda, Cumming and Fewer (1993, 346) went further by suggesting that:
the introduction of [natural signed language] into classrooms for deaf students will fail because a change in the language of instruction will not assist deaf students unless it is also accompanied by a change in instructional strategies. . . . The use of [natural signed language] does not guarantee it will be possible to [use interactive communication to develop a sound first language] if the use of [such language] is coupled with poor teaching techniques. (emphasis theirs)Classroom discourse research by Musselman and Hambleton (1990) and Wood et al. (1986) also support this contention.
To create a visual world context of the visual world for deaf children necessitates the use of some sociolinguistic practices that differ from those found in hearing dyads, described in Padden and Humphries (1988). The challenge for hearing parents and teachers of deaf children is (1) to learn to see in a new and different way, (2) to engage in a world where vision is primary for the development of language and cognition, and (3) to create the necessary conditions for establishing inner speech.
Theory in the absence of data is not helpful for the practical application of teaching. In the more than twenty years since Furth showed that deaf students are as intelligent as hearing students, expectations for deaf children may have been raised and face-to-face communication in the classroom may have improved, but no appreciable gain in literacy levels has been documented (Paul and Quigley 1994). However, theories can help drive research agendas into fruitful areas of investigation, and have done so.