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Human Rights Watch is not recognizing all communication options for deaf children

October 22nd, 2013 by | Tags: , | Comments Off

Human Rights Watch, a very well-known human rights organization, recently launched an initiative to ensure that all deaf children have access to education in sign language without realizing that deaf children do have the option to communicate through listening and spoken language.  I wrote a letter to the organization expressing my concerns about their advocacy for deaf children:

To whom it may concern:

While I agree that education is a right for all deaf children as they do have the capability to learn, I am concerned about how the organization is advocating for deaf children. Sign language is not the only viable communication option for deaf children. Listening and spoken language is most definitely also a viable option for deaf children as long as they receive appropriate amplification and rehabilitation.  Are you aware of the technology that allows deaf people to hear almost like a person who hears normally, the cochlear implant?  This technology works so powerfully that deaf children can understand speech very well without lip reading as long as they receive appropriate rehabilitation.  Because many deaf children who hear with cochlear implants can listen to instruction with ease in school, sign language is not needed.

While I understand that cochlear implants may not be possible in developing countries due to financial barriers, people should still be aware that deaf children have the option to communicate by speaking and hearing with cochlear implants because in most developed countries and even in many developing countries, the technology is covered by healthcare insurance or government.

Schools are not the only places we should consider making language accessible.  Doctor offices, police stations, fire stations, town hall meetings, courthouses and shops have to be considered too. We have to keep in mind that 99% of the world population does not communicate in sign language.  Cochlear implants and listening and spoken language are incredibly invaluable options because deaf people are given access to communication and information everywhere they are in the world.  Also, deaf children who communicate by speaking and hearing with cochlear implants perform better in school than deaf children who communicate only in sign language.  I have attached a few research studies below this e-mail.

I was born deaf, but I speak and hear with cochlear implants. Therefore, I can attest that the option for deaf children to speak and hear with cochlear implants is legitimate. You can learn more about what cochlear implants have done for deaf children today by visiting my website, Cochlear Implant Online at www.cochlearimplantonline.com and watching video testimonials from cochlear implant recipients - http://cochlearimplantonline.com/site/life/speaking-up-for-themselves/.

I hope that as you move forward with your initiative to help deaf children gain access to education, you will consider advocating for listening and spoken language and cochlear implants as one of the viable options.  We can advocate by increasing access to resources to help deaf children learn listening and spoken language and acquire cochlear implants so that they can communicate with people who do not know sign language.

Rachel

I would encourage you to write a letter too by sending them an e-mail to hrwpress@hrw.org.

 

Research Studies:

Language Skills of Children with Early Cochlear Implantation

Factors Affecting the Development of Speech, Language, and Literacy in Children With Early Cochlear Implantation

Variation In Speech Perception Scores Among Children with Cochlear Implants

Speech perception and production skills of students with impaired hearing from oral and total communication education settings

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