There is varying schools of thought when it comes to deaf education, not just within the UK but all across the world. The main contention is on the teaching method used to teach deaf students. Should deaf people be taught using the pure oral method of education or should they be allowed to use sign language?
Schools that adopted the pure oral method of teaching deaf children completely banned sign language not only from the classrooms but from the playground as well. From my perspective I fail to see how this method can be beneficial to anybody and must have been extremely frustrating when trying to get points and views across. A lot of deaf people have testified that the frustration of growing up in an environment where they were not allowed to sign is one of the biggest factors in the incidence of mental health problems among deaf people.
Another interesting fact. Out of the schools that allowed sign language as an extra means of communication a lot of ex students went on to become teachers in other deaf schools themselves. We couldn’t really compare this to schools that had banned signing as we couldn’t find any information. This led us to believe that this was because there were no teachers from these schools which further highlights the fact that signing should be an integral part within deaf education.
Sign language in case you didn’t already know isn’t a universal language and just like spoken language has its variations from country to country. The official UK language is BSL (British Sign language and an interesting fact that not a lot of people know is that BSL was accepted as a language in its own right by the British Government in 2003.
There are fewer and fewer schools for the deaf that do not use sign language at all which is helping bring the level of education within the deaf community up year on year which is excellent news. There are also more and more organisations and charities out there that are doing an excellent job at raising awareness of these issues along with offering advice and help to deaf students.
Keeping an impartial view if you have decided that you would like your child to attend an establishment that learns through the pure oral method only, then the argument for this as the preferred route is that, by using this method you are allowing your child to learn techniques that will help them participate more in the hearing world by communicating verbally rather than having them become dependent on sign language. The argument of purely oral and signing will probably go on forever and as you have just read there are arguments for both techniques and it really boils down to personal preference.