Should all deaf children learn sign language?

Nancy K. Mellon, John K. Niparko, Christian Rathmann, Gaurav Mathur, Tom Humphries, Donna Jo Napoli, Theresa Handley, Sasha Scambler, John D. Lantos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Every year, 10 000 infants are born in the United States with sensorineural deafness. Deaf children of hearing (and nonsigning) parents are unique among all children in the world in that they cannot easily or naturally learn the language that their parents speak. These parents face tough choices. Should they seek a cochlear implant for their child? If so, should they also learn to sign? As pediatricians, we need to help parents understand the risks and benefits of different approaches to parent-child communication when the child is deaf. The benefits of learning sign language clearly outweigh the risks. For parents and families who are willing and able, this approach seems clearly preferable to an approach that focuses solely on oral communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalPediatrics
Volume136
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Mellon, N. K., Niparko, J. K., Rathmann, C., Mathur, G., Humphries, T., Napoli, D. J., Handley, T., Scambler, S., & Lantos, J. D. (2015). Should all deaf children learn sign language? Pediatrics, 136(1), 170-176. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2014-1632