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A volunteer writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
I am currently volunteering at a Deaf and Hard of Hearing facility which caters to those in need of help or services. One of my main functions there is that I assist with "after-school care" for children. The teacher in charge speaks English while signing what she says to the children. If I am correct in understanding what ASL TRULY is, then this is not it. Correct?
I understand that children learn to be bilingual to understand the hearing that do not know how to properly sign to them, but how does a person like me learn the differences in PROPERLY using ASL and speaking to those that are Deaf when surrounded by English sign language and hard of hearing students that use it? And is it better to use English sign language with those that are merely hard of hearing?
Thank you for your website!
- [Name on File]
Dear [Name on File],
1. "How does a person like me learn the differences in PROPERLY using ASL and speaking to those that are Deaf when surrounded by English sign language and hard of hearing students that use it?"
Response: An old saying of mine is, "Trying to learn to sign without Deaf people is like trying to learn to swim without water." By "Deaf people" I mean native-level ASL signing Deaf adults. If you want to learn ASL you can take classes, read ASL textbooks, study ASL websites, join online ASL groups, and go interact with adult Deaf community members who sign ASL.
2. "Is it better to use English sign language with those that are merely hard of hearing?"
Response: Many hard-of-hearing folks "do" gravitate toward "sign-supported-speech." However you have to consider the environment. If there are fully d/Deaf folks around then you are better off defaulting to the language that is fully accessible via the eyes (ASL or some other visual language depending on what country or region you are in). Hard of hearing folks can learn to understand ASL much more easily than d/Deaf folks can "learn" to hear.
- Dr. Vicars
Also see: Simultaneous Communication
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