Chapter 1 of The Signing Family: What Every Parent Should Know about
Sign Communication continued . . .
When parents discover their child is deaf, they go through a period of
turmoil as they try to respond to a host of concerns. You may hear that
signing helps a deaf child acquire language, but, you wonder, don't all
deaf people who sign spend most of their social lives in the Deaf
community? [Note: We use the term "Deaf" to refer to people who use sign
language as their primary means of communication, and who share the
culture of the Deaf community. We use the term "deaf" to refer to the
larger group of people who have a hearing loss.] Will signing turn your
deaf child away from you and the rest of
your family? If you do learn to sign, does that commit you to ignoring the
vital role of speech and hearing in your child's life? If you don't sign
and your child falls behind in school, will you be at fault? What will
happen if you try to learn to sign for several years and never become
proficient in it?
A large part of this book is devoted to descriptions of various
types of signed communication that are used in schools to teach deaf
children. At this point we would like simply to introduce the terms for
these types of signing, which can be divided into three categories.
- American Sign Language (ASL) is the language of the Deaf
community and from it the other forms of signed communication have derived
the bulk of their sign vocabularies. ASL is a distinct and complete
language with a grammatical structure quite different from that of
- English signing is any type of signing that follows English
word order, from haphazard combinations of fingerspelling and signs to
formal systems created specifically for coding English in signs. The
formal systems are often referred to as manually coded English or
MCE. In this book we discuss two popular MCE systems in
detail--Signing Exact English (SEE) and Signed English.
- Contact signing combines ASL signs and some ASL linguistic
features with English word order. It formerly was referred to as Pidgin
Sign English or PSE.
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