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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Bilingual Deaf and Hearing Families: Narrative Interviews
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We still use sign language and participate in Deaf culture. And her little sister also is being exposed to the culture. Once, I was talking to Destinee when her sister was a babyóonly about one year old. I signed, ďsitĒ and the baby sat down!


Could you describe how the CI has helped Destinee with her language skills and communication at home and with friends?

Tammy: Obviously the CI has helped her to hear things. And ASL has helped her develop language. Early on I realized that ASL would help Destinee learn English. I read a book called Communication Choices by Sue Schwartz. It helped me understand all the choices; ASL made the most sense.

And we seem to find communication is easy. At mealtime, we try to eat together here at the table. Sometimes we sign, sometimes we talk. We tell stories. Sometimes Destinee wants to talk and other times she wants to sign. I let her decide and I follow her lead. Like on Saturday mornings, Destinee just wants to hang out, watch TV without sound, and talk with us. Funny, because her sister, who is hearing, is picking up on that also. One morning, she was sitting on my bed watching TV without the sound. I thought something was wrong with that picture. She didnít care that the sound wasnít on; they just enjoyed watching. It has become our family culture. They watch TV with and without captioning and with and without sound.

The CI has also helped Destineeís speech. Her speech is very clear. Without the CI she is profoundly deaf. When she went into the sound booth for her hearing test, it was torture. Without the CI, she canít hear anything. When we are home, there is a lot of talking. Sometimes I think I talk too much. She started talking early. At about seventeen to eighteen months old, about one month after she got the CI, she started saying baby words. She started repeating everything.

Destinee: Remember, mom, they have speech classes at the doctorís office.

Tammy: Yes, I know.

Destinee: Remember, I want to go again.

Tammy: In the spring you will go again.

Destinee: I want to go to speech classes to learn more, more, and more every day!

Tammy: And Destinee and her sister talk when they interact with each other. So she is using her speech. They talk; and if Destinee is tired of the CI, she takes it off , turns it off. I think Destineeís younger sister realizes she is deaf but I donít know. Sometimes Iíll tell her Destinee canít hear her. So then she screams, DESTINEE! I have to say Destinee canít understand what you are saying.

Destinee likes to go to her sisterís school and teach the children basic signs. Also, how it is important to make sure that you are looking at Destinee when you speak to her. Destinee also has a lot of friends, girl friends. Destinee, are your friends hearing or deaf?


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