Monday, July 12, 2010

Baby Signs

I've noticed a bit of a movement goin on amongst our youngest. Babies are SIGNING! This is really exciting, finally, some deaf awareness going on (or thats what I would think). You know, something that can benefit everyone. People learning sign language is a great step towards welcoming the deaf into our culture, and...our precious ones are learning to communicate with us earlier than they would if we waited on those vocal cords to fully develop. Everybody wins, right?

Well, not exactly... I've seen a really sad development in this sort of education. We're dumbing down the language (and there for sending a very strong, and hurtful message to the deaf).  In order to try and make it more "palatable" for the little ones, we're teaching wrong signs.

If a child says "baba" instead of "bottle" we don't usually correct them, but we also don't just start teaching them "baba" because we think it will be too hard for them to say "bottle". We model the right word and eventually they get it. I would never expect my children to sign everything right all the time, but just because they can't do the perfect "more" sign doesn't mean that they don't understand it and it also doesn't mean that they'll never be able to sign it right.

Some might say that it's not about the deaf, they just want to communicate with their baby. Sometimes you're just trying to raise your family. I so understand that! The thing is, Sign language belongs to the deaf culture, just as English belongs to our culture. And in the same way that we would not like it if some one was purposing teaching wrong English to their child, the deaf are hurt by the fact that we, as a whole, don't value them enough to teach our children their real language.

I, do know, some of you are really wanting to teach your children accurate signs, but don't know the language yourself. Good news! I have a great resource ( for you, and the whole program is taught by a deaf woman, so not only will you be doing something great for your baby (and yourself), you will also be supporting the deaf community.  Now that truly is a win, win


erin said...

Signing is such a great form of communication for little ones. My daughter learned a few basics like please and more & I totally forgot when my son came along... I wish I hadn't.

Kate said...

hi britt,

i really liked this -- the analogy of baba/bottle made a lot of sense.

but i *have* heard that it's not possible to teach sign language outside of deaf culture, so i'm not sure this will work ::innocent stare::

Brittney Harmon said...

haha, katie. I sense a bitterness... you just tell us signs that you want to know and we'll do our best to help you out. The only thing is... you're going to have to move to Portola. Sorry

Kate said...

lol okay, it's a deal.