Chapter 1 of The Signing Family: What Every Parent Should Know about Sign Communication continued . . .

Today, the theory that only speech leads to language acquisition has been discarded. Signing does lead to language development, and for many profoundly deaf children, it is the best route to reading and writing proficiency.

Deaf children need to communicate. Through effective communication, which leads to language, they will be able to learn, work, contribute to society, and enjoy life as much as anyone. While we realize that not everyone will learn to sign, we do know that more and more people are in fact learning how to sign. American Sign Language is one of the fastest-growing languages of study in the United States.

The past two decades have ushered in a greater awareness of who Deaf people are and how they communicate. It is no longer unusual to see people signing. Deaf people who sign are making their mark in the world. Marlee Matlin won an Oscar for her performance in "Children of a Lesser God," Heather Whitestone captured the hearts of the nation as Miss America, and Linda Bove has introduced thousands of children to sign language on Sesame Street. Thousands of other deaf people who sign are not well known, and rightfully so--because being deaf and signing your way through life is not such a big deal. Why should it be? Many deaf people have used signing to carve a niche in this world as teachers and professors, doctors and chiropractors, lawyers and members of the court, engineers and construction workers. Making the decision to sign with your child is the first step toward his or her eventual success.

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