Working with children with cochlear implants in sign bilingual settings

Presented on 17 January 2008


Sue Archbold

1. A child (3) is using sign language before implant and parents are advised to stop sign language immediately after implant. You are the teacher of the deaf - what do you advise?

2. A mother is using sign language without voice with her child - and feels that her child's implant isn't working and doesn't encourage the use of the implant. What would you do?

3. A teenager with an implant since 6 years old - uses sign for the curriculum - not keen on wearing the implant - what would you do and advise?

4. Parents' home language is Urdu - child implanted at 2 - going to mainstream nursery - sign language available. What do you advise about the use of sign language, Urdu and English? Would it be different at school and home? How would you advise parents to help their child?

5. How can you provide flexibility of educational provision - are there new ways to do it? How would you assess a child's changing communication needs? How can you provide for a child's needs in mainstream education?

6. What skills and expertise do schools for the deaf using sign language have for children who are using implants and who use mainly spoken language? What opportunities do schools for the deaf have for using sign supported English and pure BSL? What could be the roles before and after implantation? For different children? At different times?

A child implanted at 3 - had good sign language skills at school for the deaf - one year after implant is vocalising at home but silent at school. What are the possibilities? What do you need to know? What would you suggest?

A young person (14) with an implant is in a mainstream school using spoken language - he meets no deaf young people. What concerns would you have? Why might he want to learn sign language? How can you provide sign language input? How can you provide a peer group?

After implant what would make you think that a child had a language learning problem?

A child has implant at 3 - had implant for 2 years - is now 5 and good user of sign language at school and at home. Parents ask advice about how to move on with spoken language at home. Where and when can they use spoken language alone safely?

Does it matter that parents are using sign supported English early on or should they be using pure sign language? Can the children learn pure BSL later on in life?

Educational issues

After implantation: Priorities - how can this be provided in a sign bilingual setting?

What are the educational issues?



Why sign?

Pat Spencer's work


NB it is not necessary to choose one approach for ever!

Sign. What do we mean? (thanks to Pat Spencer)

Total Communication assumptions

Concerns expressed about use of total communication (with or without CI)

Pat Spencer's ideas

The options actually make family decisions more difficult

Spencer's Quest for Peace

Can we find ways to help deaf children use and reach all their potential?

Identity and self-esteem issues

Decreasing communication frustration

To support bilingual-bicultural development of children with CIs

Educational issues: what are they?

Let me take you to a school; 14 children with implants; how many wear them? None.


What kind of support in mainstream class?

Teachers - please ...

Pat Spencer's Quest for Peace

Can we find ways to help deaf children use and reach all their potential?

Technical Challenges

New technologies - what next?