University of Edinburgh

Language and Deaf Education: Into the 21st Century

March, 2006

Harry Knoors -

Varying objectives and tricky mixes: language used in the education of deaf children.

In the education of deaf children we are confronted with several dilemmas. These dilemmas include the varying educational objectives of parents and the ways educators try to satisfy these, the implementation of bilingual education in the era of universal newborn hearing screening and cochlear implantation, the provision of sign language input to deaf children by hearing parents, the provision of sufficient early input of spoken language for deaf children in general and children with a cochlear implant in particular, the constitution of educational programmes on the basis of relatively limited research evidence and the settings in which education may take place.

Dilemmas are problems that resist a straightforward, maximally satisfactory solution. Rather one has to negotiate dilemmas in the most optimal ways. In this presentation not only the dilemmas will be highlighted, but also suggestions are made to alleviate the consequences. These suggestions vary from professionally advising parents and careful curriculum design to monitoring the learning process of deaf children and providing tricky mixes of language input.