Jan and Scott wanted their deaf daughter to take part in this social event, but both were afraid to start a prolonged conversation that might reveal their embarrassing weakness in signing. How much richer Kate's experience would have been, linguistically and socially, if Jan had introduced her to people in a manner more conducive to conversation: "Kate is finishing a project for school that is really exciting. Kate, what did you think was the best part of your project?" This is communication, wrapped in the fabric of socializing. To be able to explain and describe your world, model social conversation, and allow your child to participate--aren't these the reasons to learn to sign?
Learning to sign does not guarantee a better education. It does open doors to learning, however, because for deaf children signing is a more comprehensible form of communication than speech. This premise is clarified in later chapters, which explore the role of signing in the education of deaf children during the past two centuries.
Despite a long history of signing in the United States, many school districts still lack adequate instruction in signing. Even if your school district provides good instruction, it may not subscribe to the type of signing you want for your child. It is possible to advocate for your chosen method of communication and win, although in such disputes the law in most states favors the schools. In chapter 9, we discuss the law and how you can use it to your advantage. We don't promise that it will be easy, and we can't guarantee that you will always get what you want.
Return to book and ordering information