As a children’s author and mother of three, I’ve been passionate about children’s literacy and education for many years. It wasn’t until my East Coast book tour that I became interested in education for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, after I had the wonderful experience of reading my title Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy at a school for the hearing impaired. I was so inspired that I released a Danny the Dragon DVD and iPad app with a signed reading of my book. I’m proud to have contributed children’s materials to deaf children. Although I created the very first children’s book app with sign language interpretation, it is just one of many materials out there for deaf children.
Before we touch upon the subject of children’s materials, the issue of language must be considered. One of the most important decisions parents of a deaf child make is which language or languages to teach their child, as communication is one of the most important skills people—deaf and hearing—need. Language instruction has been the subject of much controversy in the deaf community. Children who are born deaf or become deaf early in life can end up having difficulties understanding written English, which is a phonetic language, based on sounds.
For the many deaf children who retain some residual hearing, parents are increasingly opting for oral deaf education, which teaches children to learn and speak using advanced technology, allowing them to learn English more easily. The question arises of whether your child should learn sign language first. Parents should consult with specialists and qualified professionals to help them make the best decision for their child.
Whatever method of language instruction you choose for your child, there are many materials at your disposal. If you’ve opted to teach your child sign language first and then English, you’ll have many books at your disposal for teaching ASL and English. The Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing have posted on their website an extraordinary list of deaf children’s materials, including well-illustrated primers for either or both languages such as Sesame Street’s Sign Language Fun with Linda Bove, storybooks dealing with deaf characters and issues such as I Have a Sister, My Sister is Deaf, and books on important deaf topics such as Hearing Aids for You and the Zoo, which instructs deaf kids on how to take care of their hearing aids.
There are many other deaf children’s materials available in other media such as computer games and programs as well as DVDs. About.com’s deaf writer Jamie Berke recommends the following sources for deaf children’s materials: the Clerk Center product catalog, the Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, which has computer software for deaf kids, BoysTownPress.org for a video series of sign language interpretations of famous children’s books, and PBS’s Cornerstones program, which teaches language skills to deaf children.
If you’ve decided to get a hearing aid for your deaf child, hearing aid materials will also be important to acquire. Some examples of such materials include a battery tester, air blower to blow out moisture from hearing aids, hearing aid retainers, and an earmold lubricant. You can learn more about hearing aid supplies through a specialist.
In the end, there are so many materials and resources for deaf children that to list them here is not possible. The best solution is to stay well-connected with professionals, deaf organizations, and others in the deaf community for information about helpful materials for deaf kids. As time goes on, deaf children will be able to enjoy more and more materials to help them learn necessary information and language skills—and of course for their fun and enjoyment.
About.com: Literacy Resources for Teaching Deaf Children http://deafness.about.com/od/literacy/a/deafliteracy.htm
Bella Online: What language should my deaf child learn? http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art67247.asp
The Listen-Up Web! Helpful Products to Know About http://www.listen-up.org/htm/products.htm
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