While the cheer and gatherings of the holidays are a welcome break for many, some find this time more difficult. For those in the Deaf community, the holidays amplify existing challenges.
Rob Myers of DOOR International explains how statistics show many people born deaf face challenges in communicating with their families already.
“What you may not realize is that 90% of Deaf people are born to parents who are hearing, which typically means that they don’t know any sign language. Of those parents, about 85% will never learn to sign with their deaf children,” Myers says.
“That means about 80% of Deaf people, even here in the U.S., have almost no language access when they’re at home. That’s hard for us to understand.”
This language deprivation is very problematic for the learning and development of children.
“We’re learning more and more that how essential it is for all children to have language access at an early age. Particularly for deaf kids, if they don’t have sign language access early on, it actually creates language deprivation for them,” Myers explains.
Since written language is sound-based, this deprivation can make learning to read difficult as well. Many children only begin to learn when they attend Deaf school. This makes the holidays away from friends, especially during the pandemic, especially difficult.
“If you think about sitting around a dinner table in the evening, [there’s] lots of talk and chatter going on. It’s hard for a Deaf kid to figure out who’s talking, much less what exactly they’re saying, so many times they’ll just sit and keep their head down and eat at the table and not bother to try to even follow the conversation because it’s just too difficult,” Myers says.
“When we think now of the holidays and COVID, most families have their kids at home. Kids are isolated from their friends. In the case of Deaf kids, even Deaf adults, that becomes really, really challenging over the holidays. We have to exert even extra effort to try to overcome some of those language barriers.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Rachel Pfeiffer
CALL TO ACTION
- Learn basic sign language.
- Raise awareness for deaf community.
- Support DOOR through giving and prayer.