Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from K.M., Uganda

What are the language issues in deaf schoolchildren?

Question from K.M., Uganda. Posted March 19, 2012.
Response from Marc Marschark - NTID

The biggest issue is that the majority of deaf children arrive in school lacking fluency in language (regardless of its modality). Parents, teachers, and other professionals also frequently do not realize that while spoken language and sign language might both be appropriate for educational purposes, they are not equivalent. Growing up with one or the other likely will be associated with educationally-relevant cognitive differences. Beyond these general points, there are so many issues associated with the lack of language fluency, literacy, and so on, that I need to refer you to other sources. Please be sure to look at one that does not have an inherent bias toward one language modality or the other such as Raising and Educating a Deaf Child (Marschark, M., 2007, Oxford University Press).