1. Acquiring sign language will hinder your child’s ability to learn a spoken language.
Research has shown that acquiring sign language does not hinder acquiring a spoken language at the same time.
2. Sign language is not a ‘real’ language.
Sign language is a complete language, with its own grammar, structure and syntax.
3. Parents need to be fluent in sign language to teach it to their child.
If you have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, you can learn sign language together.
4. Sign language is universal.
Every country has its own native sign language. Australia, for example, has Australian Sign Language (Auslan), the United States has American Sign Language (ASL) and France has French Sign Language (LSF).
5. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing will hear ‘normally’ with a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
While assistive listening devices aid hearing, they don’t make it ‘normal’. Children may still have difficulty hearing (especially hearing speech) in busy, noisy environments. This is why it’s important to create an environment that supports your child’s ability to listen, especially for speech acquisition and learning.
6. All children who are deaf or hard of hearing can lip-read.
The practice commonly known as ‘lip reading’ refers to what is actually speech reading – a skill people of all hearing abilities use to aid understanding of speech. Ensuring your deaf or hard of hearing child has access to as much information to decode speech as possible, including a good view of your mouth as you speak, will support better communication.
7. Deaf people read braille.
Braille uses a system of raised dots that can be ‘read’ by the fingers to represent characters. It is used by people who are blind, have low vision, or are Deafblind.
8. People who are deaf or hard of hearing have enhanced vision.
Being deaf or hard of hearing doesn’t bestow a child with visual superpowers! In fact, children who are deaf or hard of hearing can be more prone to vision problems and are advised to have regular vision check-ups.
9. Talking slowly and loudly can help a person who is deaf understand you.
Shouting or changing the pace of speech can actually distort speech and make reading facial cues more difficult. Aim to speak clearly and at a normal speed, looking directly at the person.
10. All deaf people use sign language.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate in various ways. This includes using sign languages such as Auslan, spoken languages, gestures, writing, Signed English and speech reading.
11. Deaf people are also mute.
Some deaf people can speak but choose not to, others can’t. Never assume. If you are having difficulty understanding what someone who is deaf or hard of hearing is saying, you can suggest using another form of communication, such as writing things down.
12. Deaf people are less intelligent than hearing people.
Hearing is not correlated with intelligence. People who are deaf or hard of hearing have the same intelligence range as the general population.
13. People are defined by the fact they are deaf or hard of hearing.
Hearing ability doesn’t define a person. Just like everyone else, people who are deaf or hard of hearing have their own unique personalities, strengths, challenges, likes and dislikes.
14. All deaf people would like to be able to hear.
Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing are proud of their identity, heritage and culture. They are not all hanging out for a deafness ‘cure’. People who identify with Deaf culture use the capital ‘D’ and view themselves as part of a cultural group, not a community of people with disability.
15. All people who are deaf or hard of hearing want to participate in Deaf culture.
Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoy being part of Deaf culture. However, some prefer participating in the hearing world as much as possible.