How will I communicate with my Child? is often one of the first questions we ask ourselves as parents once you we are told our child is Deaf. Communication is important for your childs development. Research shows the earlier that communication starts then the better the outcome of that child. Whether it be thru spoken or Sign Language or both it is important to start early. It can a hard decision to decide which communication method to use. Language and speech are two very different things with a Deaf child. While speech consists of individual sounds combined to make words and sentences, language is the meaningful organization of thoughts for communication. Which can be equally spoken or signed. Both Speech and Sign Language can be a language and in New Zealand we are one of the very few countries to have both forms as an official language.
As parents it is up to us to make that decision on behalf of our child. For some it is black and white for others it a murky grey. But whether you choose spoken (oral) language, use signed language (NZSL) or raise your child with both, the decision needs to be yours and it needs to be based upon a clear understanding of each. Just remember there is no right or wrong method for your child it is whatever works best for your child and what you are commutable with.
On this page you'll find information on
•Spoken Language •Signed Language •Bilingual and Bimodal •Resources to help you make an informed decision
Spoken Language Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT)
With the advanced improvements in technology with hearing aids and the availability of the cochlear implant, 95% of deaf and hard of hearing children can have access to sound. And with the right therapy, these children can learn to listen and to speak clearly and naturally like their hearing peers. This therapy is Auditory-Verbal Therapy or AVT. Auditory-Verbal Therapists guide and coach families to help their children develop spoken language through listening, and help them advocate for their children's inclusion in mainstream schools. Ultimately, parents gain confidence that their children will have access to a full range of educational, social and vocational choices in life.
Nearly every country has its own sign language, complete with a unique vocabulary and grammatical structure (the same as any language). New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the natural language of the Deaf community in New Zealand; so it reflects the country’s culture by including signs for Māori terminology and concepts unique to New Zealand. It shares its roots with British Sign Language (BSL) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan) As one of the country’s official languages, more than 20,000 New Zealanders use NZSL daily. It is also the 15th most frequently used language out of approximately 190 languages currently used in New Zealand (Census 2013). New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) was made and official language of NZ on the 6th Aril 2006 alongside English and Te Reo Māori. Sign language is a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and body movements. It is not simply signed representations of spoken words.