Friday, September 9, 2011

AFA's Do's and Don'ts for Parents of Deaf Children

Greetings Parents:
Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful child!

Audism Free America (AFA) is a network of individuals and groups committed to combating discrimination against Deaf people. We have collected information from parents, Deaf people, educators, and experts in order to create this list of Do’s and Don’ts for new parents of a Deaf infant or child.

• Do make sure your child knows that you love her/him unconditionally.

• Do make sure your child knows that you do not hold the belief that to hear and/or behave as Hearing people do is superior to being Deaf.

• Do make sure your child has exposure and access to a fully natural and fully accessible signed language – American Sign Language (ASL).

• Do make sure you use ASL with your child.

• Do know that four major world organizations have declared the importance of natural signed languages and human rights (see WHO, UN CRPD, ICED 2010, and WFD)

• Do read to your child and foster a love of reading in your child.

• Do make sure your child learns about Deaf history and Deaf culture.

• Do make sure your child learns how to advocate for her/himself.

• Do make sure your home is a Deaf-friendly space by furnishing it with captioned TV, a videophone, doorbell signalers, and DVDs/materials in ASL and English.

• Do make sure that your child’s educational experiences occur through direct instruction whenever possible.

• Do make sure you and your child have contact with other Deaf children, Deaf adults and the Deaf community.

• Do listen to the experiences of Deaf adults.

• Do listen to your child and your own intuition.

• Do celebrate your child’s unique gifts.

• Don’t deny your child the right to a fully accessible and natural visual language - American Sign Language.
• Don’t believe that you must be fluent in ASL in order to use it with your child.

• Don’t accept anyone (specialists, family or community members) stigmatizing your Deaf child.

• Don’t accept anyone judging your child’s intelligence based on her/his speech.

• Don’t accept anyone telling you that it is harmful for your Deaf child to have a fully accessible and natural signed language along with English.

• Don’t be pressured to use technologies or systems that ban the use of a natural and fully accessible signed language

• Don’t believe myths about miracles and misery.

• Don’t forget to look back to see how far you have come and look ahead to where you are going.

• Don’t accept audism (the belief to hear and/or behave as a hearing person is superior to being Deaf) and linguicism (the belief that one language is superior to another language).

• Don't forget to let your child know that he/she is accepted as a unique person and as a Deaf individual.

There is a wonderful network of parents who can serve as a support system to you and your family. Please feel free to reach out to them:

American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC)

Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC)

Deafhood Foundation

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)