Language and Deaf Education: Into the 21st Century
Greg Leigh -
Early Identification, Cochlear Implantation, and Sign(ed) Language: Issues for a New Era
Since the advent of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) in
New South Wales in 2002, the average age of identification of deaf
children has fallen from 18 months to 1.6 months. The near universal
availability of cochlear implantation, emphasis on inclusive education,
and advances in aural habilitation have all served to raise expectations
about spoken language development for these children. Correspondingly
there has been an increasing preference for exclusively auditory-oral
approaches to early intervention.
Clearly, there continue to be children for whom auditory-oral approaches do not produce outcomes commensurate with these expectations. However, a goal that receives scant consideration is that of earlier and more efficient identification of children for whom alternative communication approaches will be the most - if not only - viable strategy for linguistic, social, and emotional development.