Miscommunication is common, even with the best communicators among us. Adding in hearing loss can make communication even more difficult. Thankfully there are hearing aids and cochlear implants to assist individuals with hearing loss, but some individuals still decide to pair their hearing aids with sign language. Having a bilingual communication plan can make you a stronger communicator, and American Sign Language (ASL) is a great form of communication to fall back on.
Multiple Forms of Communication
If you suffer from hearing loss, giving yourself multiple forms of communication is ideal. You may have to quit wearing your hearing aids for a few days due to an ear infection, the batteries may die and you may be without your hearing aids temporarily, or you may need to get them repaired. Children with hearing aids may be more prone to lose their hearing aids; they may take them out and damage them. In these cases, having sign language as a backup plan is a great idea. It gives you another communication option. Learning sign language is also a great idea for those who are experiencing rapidly progressing hearing loss that is moving into full hearing loss.
Children and Sign Language
Teaching sign language to babies and children can go a long way in their development. Babies that are taught sign language are able to speak earlier than babies that do not learn sign language. Children that suffer from hearing loss when they are very young will be able to communicate their needs to their parents easier when they learn sign language early in life. You can teach your baby to communicate through ASL while you are still learning yourself.
A Great Pair
The skills you learn from sign language will pair nicely with your hearing devices. The gestures and facial expressions used in sign language will reinforce the message coming through your hearing aids. Individuals with hearing loss, also called residual hearing, are taught how to listen, rather than just hearing. ASL teaches you to do the same by honing in on verbal cues, including gestures, facial expressions, and lip reading. Sign language is especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires us to wear masks to keep us safe, but can provide a language barrier.
If you’re ready to start learning sign language, check out this great resource: https://www.nad.org/resources/american-sign-language/learning-american-sign-language/.