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Resources for Communication Problems
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Thus there can be no doubt that the deaf come in contact with language at an age when other children have fully mastered this skill and when, perhaps, the most important formative period for language establishment is already on the decline; furthermore, their contact with language samples, even at this late age, is dramatically reduced in amount in comparison with the amount of language to which a hearing child is exposed; and finally, these children have to process visually what other children receive aurally. The latter point is of no small consequence because there are indications that the eye is slower in its temporal integration than the ear, and, therefore, even if perfection could be attained in lip reading (the most proficient lip readers cannot identify more 40 to 50﹪ of articulated phonemes （Eggermont, 1964）, ordinary discourse would be so fast that only small parts could be followed adequately.
Language proficiency varies a great deal among pupils in the schools. This is primarily due to such factors as the profoundness of the handicap, its cause, the age at which hearing was lost, and the adaptability of the child to the school environment. Below is a sample of quite average language proficiency of a congenitally deaf boy, aged sixteen （eleven years of schooling）.
A boy was named Robert Kennedy. His age was twelve years old.
When his father went shopping, he had a nothing to do except to eat something. He remembered his father told him promised to his father not to eat somethings. Later he had a big idea. He went to library room. He walked over his father’s new sofa. The sofa was dirty. He opened the box of cigar. He picked one. And he think and remember his father told him to do. He putted back it. He leave library room. And one of tiny devil told him disobey his father. He lighted it. He smoked for one hour. Later his father came to home. He slept and felt very sick. His father called him. But he did not called. His father thought he ran away. He ran and looked many rooms. The last room he found. He brother him. His father told him what happen to you. He said, ”Nothing!” His father smelled smoke. His father asked him. “Did you smoked my cigar？”He said, “Yes.” His father scold him. And a tiny angle was fight with a tiny devil.
It is clear that this boy has achieved an amazing amount of competence in English, considering the obstacles. Nevertheless, there are many mistakes of grammar and style. In the course of my work with the deaf, I have received a sizeable collection of letters from young deaf parents and also older individuals. Among all of these correct spondents, there are some individuals who have been profoundly deaf all their lives but whose letters are perfect in grammar. The vast majority, however, make grammatical mistakes of varying degree of severity and about half have the proficiency exemplified in the previous sample.
I am inclined to believe that the failures in proficiency are primarily due to shortcomings in instruction and training, and not due to inherent learning incapacities of the deaf. My clinical experience with congenital anarthria suggests that language competence in the deaf could be vastly improved if they were given much more graphically presented language material and at a much earlier age. It is my impression that their language difficulties (in writing) are due to an acute input deficiency－they have just not been given enough examples(raw data to foster their own language synthesis) during the critical early years. This impression is corroborated by those deaf adults who write good grammar, because they are invariably the most avid readers, and have been so for many years. Although peripheral deafness is injurious to oral speech performance, there is no reason why the basic capacity to acquire knowledge of language ought to be implicated as well. The argument that early acquaintance with and recourse to reading and writing is detrimental to these children’s skills in oral communication and lip reading lacks evidence. In fact, we might assume that if these children had better knowledge of language, both of these other skills might be facilitated considerably.