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Communication Choices

There are many different schools of thought about communicating with and educating children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Every child is unique, and parents need to make choices about the direction that’s right for their child and their family. At Clarke, we recognize that there is no single approach that is right for every child with hearing loss.

Below are brief descriptions of the most common options for children with hearing loss:

Auditory/Oral Education

Auditory/Oral Education is an approach based on the principle that most deaf and hard of hearing children can be taught to listen and speak with early intervention and consistent training to develop their hearing potential. The focus of this educational approach is to use the auditory channel (or hearing) to acquire speech and oral language. With appropriate technology and educational training, children can learn to listen and talk with confidence. Auditory/Oral Education is also known as Oral Deaf Education. Clarke is an auditory/oral program.

American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, visual language, which enables people to communicate without access to sound. It is grammatically distinct from English and is used by many deaf people in the United States and Canada. Children who learn ASL as their first language will later be taught standard English as they learn to read and write.

Total Communication

Total Communication is a philosophy that makes use of a number of modes of communication (manual, oral, auditory, and written) depending on the particular needs of the child. Children are encouraged to use their eyes, ears, voices, and hands to communicate. Total Communication is related to Simultaneous Communication, the methodology of using sign language and spoken language at the same time.

Reference: Schwartz, Sue. (1996). Choices in Deafness: A Parent’s Guide to Communication Options. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.