College Of Arts and Sciences | To Speak or to Sign: A Dilemma
S105 | 0076 | Humes, L.


A debate that has raged (literally) for over a century centers on
the best way for members of the Deaf community to communicate with
the hearing population. Basically, the question is whether the Deaf
should be encouraged and taught to use the communication system of
the hearing world or to use a system that is unique to their own
silent world. Those on one side, often referred to
as “auditory/oral” advocates, argue that the Deaf would be given a
greater handicap if they were not taught the communication system of
the hearing world from a very young age. Those on the other side are
typically referred to as advocates of “manual” or “total”
communication.  They argue that the communication systems of the
hearing world, systems that are based on a spoken-auditory language
like English, cannot be learned by deaf children during the crucial
early developmental period in which fluent language learning
occurs.  Rather, visually based communication systems, such as
American Sign Language (ASL), should be used instead and introduced
at a very early age. The parents of deaf children, the majority of
whom are not deaf, have to make a decision based on fragmented and
polarized information - a decision that can have consequences for
the rest of their children's lives.

Students will read selected material supporting arguments in favor
of both the “auditory/oral” and the “manual” communication systems.
The intention of the reading list, lectures, and discussions will be
to present information used in support of both the “auditory-oral”
and the “manual” view.  Ultimately, the student will be asked to
state their personal views on this issue and, in the course of doing
so, will learn how to support their opinions with factual
information from the literature.  During the course of this seminar,
students will acquire knowledge and basic information about sound,
hearing, speech, language, cognition and development, as well as
clinical information about hearing impairment and prosthetic devices
for the hearing impaired, including hearing aids and cochlear
implants.