Sign Language and Multimodality as Indicators of Health for Deaf Newborns and Young Children: Guidance for Families and Medical Professionals

Autor/a: HUMPHRIES, Tom; MATHUR, Gaurav; NAPOLI, Donna Jo; RATHMANN, Christian
Año: 2023
Editorial: European Society of Medicine 11(1)
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Educación » Familia y Atención temprana, Educación » Adquisición y desarrollo del lenguaje, Educación » Aspectos psicológicos y cognitivos


Sign languages are complex and intact human languages essential to the development and health of deaf children and adults. Yet, still, many families and medical professionals think the optimal option for deaf children is to be raised with spoken language, usually including a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants, however, have variable outcomes with language acquisition. Medical professionals, especially pediatricians, need to update their knowledge and understanding of best practices to ensure they more appropriately support families to protect the overall health of their deaf child. The child who does not have a firm first language foundation is at risk of poor (neuro-) cognitive, psycho-social, and socio-emotional development. Developmental delays and life-long, irreparable damages can and should be prevented. Ultimately, securing a firm first language foundation is a matter of health. It is essential to back away from the concept of one-choice-fits-all and, instead, begin with exposing the deaf child to a visually accessible sign language in a multimodal and multilingual environment as soon as it is known that the child is deaf. With a sign language as the linguistic foundation, other practices automatically make more sense –including hearing aids and/or cochlear implants – and those other practices have a greater chance of success, even the development of spoken language(s) (including speech) and written language(s), which has been shown to be supported by the presence of visually accessible sign language(s) in the child’s environment.