Guest Post by Deborah Shaw

Today I am posting a guest post from a fellow classmate of mine. Hope you enjoy.

The Value of Sign Language

By Deborah Shaw

According to research presented in the History of Sign Language post, sign language was originally created for hearing- impaired individuals. I know from experience that the value of sign language today, extends far beyond the hearing-impaired community.

When I first visited this blog, I thought back to when my son was in school struggling with communication. His hearing was normal, but he had severe mental challenges. Speech therapy was always included in his Individual Education Plan (IEP), and when he reached middle school, one of his teachers decided to incorporate sign language as an objective, as well. The decision proved effective. Coupled with gestures, my son learned a few basic functional signs to convey his wants for food and to show his desires to transition from one activity to another. Today, as an adult with multiple challenges, he still remembers and continues to use the signs he learned.

My son’s case is one example of the lasting value of having sign language as an alternative or as a supplement to oral speech. The benefits are twofold:

  • Individuals in need of assistance gain skills that would help decrease communication frustrations and increase emotional well-being and quality of life.
  • People, who would be advocates (parents/teachers/others) for individuals in need, gain the capacity to interact successfully with the individuals.

There are multiple resources for learning sign language, but probably one of the best ways to learn and become proficient is by interacting with other sign language users.


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  • Carie  On April 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I enjoy seeing when students’ topics that seem unrelated overlap, such as your (Kaycee’s) topic and Debra’s. Debra presents some interesting justification for your blog. You are presenting a valuable topic that is appropriate for individuals who communication with hearing but otherwise challenged individuals too. I know my children learned some ASL phrases when they were little, before they had mastered speaking English, and I see them still use those phrases today.

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