The Importance Of Speech Development In Deaf Children

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Today there is controversy in deaf culture as whether it is better to orally train a child or expose them to signing. In this paper, I will look at the quality of speech developed in deaf children, predictors of speech development, and language abilities of deaf children who are orally trained versus deaf children who are exposed to a fluent sign language.
Children with hearing loss develop speech slower than children who are hearing. Speech development can be broken down into intelligibility, noun production, and consonant production. Children who are hard of hearing are capable of developing speech with little errors in intelligibility, noun production, and consonant production, but the more minor the hearing loss, the less likely it is to be caught, so intelligibility does not become strong until on average age 7 (Yoshinaga-Itano, C., & Sedey, A., 1998). The difference between these children and children who are deaf are not in the types of errors made, but in the amount of errors. Deaf children have a more nasal speech, often substitute consonants like b for p and d for t, and have trouble pronouncing diphthongs like the “ou” sound. Studies have shown improving linguistics improves intelligibility meaning the more the child understands the rules of the language, the stronger his or her comprehensibility will be (Yoshinaga-Itano, C., & Sedey, A., 1998).
Because most hearing loss was not caught before the age of two in the past, not much is known about speech development in children under the age of three. That, however is changing due to hearing tests at birth. More research is being done. As of now there are still few case studies and small group samplings. This research is varied but shows that there is little difference betw...

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...e by a parent who is not fluent in sign without any exposure to fluency in sign, the same risk applies for the child applies.
For further research about whether sign or oral training is more beneficial, it would be helpful to look into how these effect all aspects of development, not just learning. The literacy difference in deaf children who are orally trained versus those who are fluent in sign language most likely differs greatly due to the fact that deaf children are required to use a written word that is not sign language based. Other factors such as literacy, not simple language development would make it more clear which strategy is more beneficial.
In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages to both orally training and teaching sign to a deaf child. Based on language development alone, there does not seem to be a more appropriate strategy to use.
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