Framing Sign Language as a Health Need in Canadian and International Policy

Autor/a: SNODDON, Kristin; JACKSON, Jennifer P.
Año: 2020
Editorial: Maternal and Child Health Journal, Vol. 24, nº 2 (2020)
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital




Although in Canada, hearing screening and early intervention are presented as a health need, we question whether young deaf and hard of hearing children’s access to language is adequately supported by public health and children’s services. The Ontario Infant Hearing Program has the stated mandate of supporting the language development of deaf and hard of hearing infants and young children. However, this program presents parents with early intervention service options involving either spoken or signed language, but not both together. This policy effectively restricts access to sign language learning for a majority of Ontario’s deaf children. Consequently, some deaf children suffer language deprivation and its deleterious effects on cognition and emotional development. In support of our arguments, we refer to Article 25 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Canada has signed and ratified. The CRPD supports recognition of deaf children’s right to sign language as a health need because language deprivation occurs in many children who are not offered sign language, and this is a permanent impairment imposed on top of hearing loss. We conclude that in Canada, health services for deaf children do not align with accessibility and human rights legislation, thus creating a policy gap that leaves deaf children vulnerable to additional impairment.