It has been interesting to note that many hearing parents are teaching their hearing babies sign to decrease communication frustration derived from being non-verbal for a year or so. However, I find something extremely troubling: The significant majority of baby signing courses are taught by people who do not use sign language.
It seems that the majority of hearing people have misconceptions about sign language and deaf culture embedded unconsciously in their psyche. These misconceptions cause these parents – however well-intentioned they are – to want to use baby signing as a bridge to speaking.
In my opinion, these misconceptions are as follows:
- People that use sign language cannot talk.
- People that use sign language are stupid.
- People that use sign language cannot do the same everyday things as people who do not use sign language.
- People that use sign language are just using English with their hands.
- People that use sign language should be speaking to get along with the rest of the world who do not use sign language.
If a person that uses sign language taught baby signing, there would be significant benefits:
- The student (parent that does not use sign language) would see that people that use sign language CAN.
- The student would be motivated to continue learning sign language because sign language is useful in a variety of situations.
- The student would have a point of contact for the purpose of learning more sign and questions related to sign language / Deaf culture