Whilst browsing Facebook this morning, I came across this poster:
I frowned. I did not know how I truly felt about this.
As you are aware that I have nothing against cochlear implants. I’ve always seen them as powerful hearing aids. Like the poster said, they will allow the implantee to whisper secrets with their friends, enjoy music and listen to their teachers.
However, deeming the cochlear implant as a brain development device is rather misleading.
This poster is one of many examples I have come across that have failed to mention the importance of language. Most importantly, sign language doesn’t get a mention in this poster and in many other advertising materials.
Language is critical to brain development, especially in early childhood. According to Shiver (2001), the development of the brain through language and communication is an instinctive process.
“The reason language is instinctive is because it is, to a large extent, hard-wired in the brain. Just as we evolve neural circuits for eating and seeing, so has our brain, together with a sophisticated vocal apparatus, evolved a complex neural circuit for rapidly perceiving, analyzing, composing, and producing language” – Eliot, 1999.
Sign language is an essential brain development device for deaf people, especially children. Deaf children should be exposed to sign language from an early age.
“The development of language is essential for the cognitive and social development of all children, including, of course, those children who are deaf” – Madden, 2008.
It doesn’t matter if we wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, it is crucial that we have access to sign language. Having access to sign language will unlock our potential and the world around us.
Sign language is also an empowering tool. That said, language empowers people.
“Deaf people feel empowered when they realise their ability to access information and education in sign language, thus they become equipped with knowledge and tools in order to survive in the dominant society” – Beaver, 2015.
All in all, language is a crucial brain development and empowerment tool.
An advertisement should be created with this quote:
‘Sign language is my brain development device. It is my key to unrestricted language access, to sharing secrets through a window, to enjoying signed poetry, to enhancing my visual-spatial skills, and my ticket to a unique global culture and community’ – Adam Schembri.
Sign language deserves more recognition in the wider community – it’s an utmost issue in the Deaf community and one we’ve been advocating for since Milan.
Let’s get together and advocate for more recognition of sign language as a brain development device!
Beaver, S. 2015. How Sign Language Empowers The Deaf Community. Deakin University. Eliot, L. 1999. What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Madden, M. 2008. Early exposure to sign language: an advantage to parents and children. Retrieved from Aussie Deaf Kids on 24 June 2015.
Shiver, E. 2001. Brain Development and Mastery of Language in the Early Childhood Years. Retrieved from Intercultural Development Research Association on 24 June 2015.