Experts say learning sign language benefits deaf children, even when they receive cochlear implants, as they develop a bilingual fluency for communicating with hearing and hearing impaired people.
A majority of hearing experts quoted in the journal Pediatrics indicated that it is necessary for parents of deaf children to learn and use sign language. The question of whether or not signing is good for children has become more controversial over time.
Approximately half of the ten thousind infants born each year in the United Sates with sensorineural deafness receive cochlear implants, devices which enable profoundly deaf people to have some sense of sound. Some specialists advise that all deaf children learn sign language, regardless of whether or not they receive a cochlearn implant. Others fear that sign language will interfere with the rehabilitation needed to utilize the cochlear device. Others have concerns about burdens on parents learning a new language quickly.
Nine experts from fields associated with hearing and language shared their perspectives in an “Ethics Rounds” feature in Pediatrics. They concluded “The benefits of learning sign language clearly outweigh the risks. For parents and families who are willing and able, this approach seems clearly preferable to an approach that focuses solely on oral communication.”
According to John Lantos, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, “The more languages they learn, the better these children will be able to communicate.”