Common Fears and Questions
The loss of any hearing cannot be cured, regardless of what the media or medical professionals say. However with the use of hearing aids and cochlear implants, your child’s hearing may be improved. Each child is individual, and results may vary.
We encourage you to use ISL with your child. If you wish to improve communications with your child, we recommend that you use a bilingual approach at home i.e. ISL and English. A lot of families have created their own signs and this is known as home-sign. This is where families have their own specific signs which aid communication in the home environment.
Being deaf does not affect your child’s learning ability. It only affects being able to hear. This is a common question as a lot of focus can be on the child’s deafness whereas sometimes there can be additional difficulties that may not be identified. If you feel your child has a learning difficulty, you should bring them to your GP where they can arrange appropriate aptitude tests.
Yes. There is nothing wrong with being deaf. As we have mentioned, being deaf merely affects your child’s hearing. It does not affect their social skills or their academic development. With the love and support of their parents and family your child can lead a full and happy life.
A lot of Deaf people have been identified as having low literacy skills. There are various reasons for this such as the late identification of deafness and the inability of the child to acquire a language in the most vital stages of its development.
Other reasons include a poor educational experience where Deaf people were not taught through the bilingual approach but rather through what was known as the oral system where Irish Sign Language was not encouraged and speech was forced.
There are supports available at the Irish Deaf Society to combat low literacy skills in areas such as English, Mathematics and Personal Development.
No. It won’t. Research has shown that learning a signed language will not affect speech development. Hearing children’s speech is not affected when they learn baby signs. The deaf child’s use of signed language can develop far quicker than their vocal skills but will not affect them in the long term.
It is strongly recommended that you and your family learn ISL so that your deaf child can be better understood and feel part of the whole family. It also improves communication and strengthens the family bond.
There are different forms of ISL such as regional variations. For example, there are differences between signs in Limerick and Dublin. This is also true of age and gender. In the past, deaf girls and boys were educated in different schools and due to not mixing with each other, different signs were naturally developed.
Signed English is a language support system. It is a form of manual communication which is used to teach various subjects through English. Signs were developed to show suffixes (which are the endings of words, “ing”, “ed”, “es” etc.) so that a deaf child could learn different tenses. This is not considered a language by the Deaf community as it can be difficult to use.
It varies from person to person. Some people can learn basic ISL within a few weeks; others may take longer but everyone can learn ISL.
The ISL Academy offers ISL classes. They use fully qualified ISL teachers who have graduated from Trinity College Dublin. There may be other teachers around the country that can offer ISL classes but it is recommended to only go to a class accredited by the Irish Deaf Society. Contact the ISL Academy for more information on classes in your area where you can undertake classes with a FETAC Level 3 or 4 qualifications in ISL.
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that are worn behind the ear and amplify sounds.
Cochlear Implantation is a small electronic device worn externally with a second portion surgically placed under the skin behind your child’s ear. Sounds bypass damaged portions of the ear and the implant sends auditory signals to the brain.
These are both devices to aid and possibly improve your child’s hearing. However there is a misconception that they may cure your child’s hearing loss. There are no guarantees which one will work for your child.
It is recommended that you seek advice from both medical professionals and Deaf children/adults who may wear hearings aid or cochlear implants.
The medical profession may view being Deaf as something that needs to be cured and may discourage the use of Irish Sign Language. However research has shown that language acquisition is vital for a child’s development.
Doctors and Nurses may not be familiar in the area of language acquisition or linguistics in relation to the Deaf community and are not the appropriate people to advise you on this. Your doctor may advise you to get a cochlear implant for your child but you should not feel pressurised to do so.
It is extremely important to ask Deaf people about their experiences as they will have gone through similar things themselves. i.e. attending hospital appointments, speech and language therapy, getting their hearing tested and working with visiting teachers and SNAs. They can also offer you first hand advice about being Deaf and discuss how it felt when using Irish Sign Language was discouraged.
You can contact the Irish Deaf Society who offers Deaf Awareness Training.