The United States of America has over 200 years of history in the education of the deaf. Like many other humanitarian projects, the first school was opened due to the aspiration of deaf devotees from Europe to sail to America to enable the deaf from this continent to receive education in sign language.
For the first time in US history, the Connecticut General Assembly has allocated money for specialized education for people with hearing problems. Since then, the rules and principles of education for deaf and hard-of-hearing people have changed more than once. However, there remained an ardent missionary desire to harmoniously integrate deaf people into a society where sound plays a paramount role in communication.
ASL as the Foundation of Education
The fact that the founder of the first school for the deaf in America, Laurent Clerc, was French explains why most ASL (American Sign Language) signs are French. Subsequently, they were supplemented and modified, allowing them to turn into a unique American system. Teaching children sign language can take place in different settings:
- If a child is born in a family of people with hearing difficulties, then from the very childhood, they master this language and easily communicate with its help.
- However, if a child with hearing problems was born in a family where parents and other relatives had not encountered such a situation before, the task of learning sign language is more challenging. Because mastering ASL becomes a task primarily for the parents.
When to Start Teaching Your Child ASL?
It is believed that a sign language training program is best started as soon as possible, when the child begins to recognize and copy the gestures of others. This will accelerate the development of their cognitive abilities. If through the screening process, parents have learned that their child has a hearing flaw, they need to immediately begin learning to communicate with kids using gestures and sign language.
Teaching the Deaf in the Education System
The way the deaf are taught in the education system can vary depending on the degree of deafness of the students. According to different classifications, 4-5 such degrees are distinguished, from mild to profound. Among the most common methods of adjusting the educational process to the needs of the deaf are the following:
- American Sign Language (ASL) if the instructor is proficient in it.
- Inviting a sign language interpreter.
- Lip reading.
- Using hearing aids.
- The latest CART technology to transcribe speech into subtitles.
Peculiarities of the Educational Process in Classes with Deaf Students
- For teaching deaf students, it is important to change the rules for lecturing. If they have to take notes, they will look down and stop seeing what the teacher is saying. Therefore, for such students, it is necessary to distribute lecture notes in advance so that they are not distracted.
- Also, if the teacher wrote something on the board or showed a slide, they need to pause so that the deaf students can read it. And then continue talking. In this case, the attention of deaf students will not be divided.
The development of technologies and their availability for deaf children and students greatly facilitate the educational process. However, instructors who teach the deaf must have the same noble goals as Laurent Clerc. And then, they will not only know but also feel how to communicate with deaf children and students to kindle in them a spark of thirst for new knowledge.