How do you feel about teaching hearing children American Sign Language?

Question:My daughter has Cerebral Palsey and we have been teaching her ASL. It has really helped her communicate and it helps with language aqusition for all children. We use a program called Signing Time that makes learning ASL fun. I have found that most Deaf people are glad that hearing people are making an effort to learn ASL. I would like to hear comments from others.

Excellent idea! They would be learning a new language.
Well, I'm a child that can hear and I know how to speak perfect Sign Language
honestly, i would have loved to learn sign language. if they had that as a elective in high school or college, id have a reason to go to school, other than gym class.
i would have take a class for the blind to learn Braille also.
that is great with what you are doing for your daughter.
I think it is a great idea!
There are studies that show learning sign language as a child helps with spelling and reading skills.
The people I have met who are Deaf are fine with hearing people learning ASL. My little brother started learning ASL when he was a baby. It has really helped him to have a second language. As long as you learn a little about Deaf culture and show respect I think learning ASL is a great thing to do.
I think its great! It will make her well rounded as she gets older and understand hearing impaired and deaf people. I wished more of my hearing friends knew sign language to speak to me (I speak and sign since I am hearing impaired). I get a lot of people who are hearing not wanting to talk to me or even understand what hearing impaired means or even want to learn sign with me. You are right that we are glad that hearing people make an effort to learn ASL :).My boyfriend who is hearing knows sign language and its easy to communicate with him when we are out in public and I dont want to announce something outloud (like bathroom). Makes me feel all happy. Again I am all for the idea!
Multi-modal approach to communication is always helpful for children that struggle with limited verbal communication. However, the use of sign language can be limiting to the user outside of the child’s "regular communicating environment". There are few communication partners that understand signs and unless you are in the deaf community is not often effective communication method. This does not mean that ASL is not a good communication tool. It just means that ASL is not a communication tool for socialization in the educational or community if others is are not trained in ASL.

The other important factor to consider is your child’s ability to perform the signs as the sign is to be performed. If your child cannot sign the sign the way the video or book describe then you are doing modified sign language. The modified sign then becomes a personalized sign which may not be understood by the general community.

You do not say about your child’s age or ability to communicate verbally. If your child is non-verbal or limited verbal communication there are tools that may improve your child’s communication with the general population. The area of communication is Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC). A speech language pathologist specializing in AAC would evaluate your child for an appropriate tool for communication.

If your child has entered school, you can request an AAC evaluation to address communication concerns. It is important to put the request in writing to your case manager.

Below are some links to help you understand AAC and Assistive Technology.
As a Teacher of the Deaf, I really felt good reading your question.

Yes, you are correct, the Deaf community appreciates the hearing community learning about their culture and language. I have had some deaf teenagers mainstreamed in public high schools that felt isolated because their hearing peers failed to understand or even want to learn basic communication. The one district I work in has accepted and used ASL as a foreign language choice and provides this through distance learning which is taught by qualified ASL instructors. In my area, these are wonderful and positive changes.and the classes are always full!!

I also have a 4th (now 5th) grader that has been with his same peers since kindergarten...and most of his class (which entails almost 80 children dispersed in 4 different rooms) have learned either basic sign or have learned advanced sign language to communicate with my student. He has an interpreter that runs ASL classes after school, to any student...and her classes are packed daily with a total of 30 students on a crowded day. I see such a huge increase in the interest in learning sign language...and it's such a positive thing.

I do not see any negatives or disadvantages to teaching hearing children ASL.
Sign language is a wonderful way to increase all children's vocabulary and improve communication skills. I even use the Signing Time series to help develop reading skills in my classroom. My grandchildren have learned hundreds of signs and love sharing their knowledge and expertise with others. Signing Time is an incredible product and I recommend it highly.
I think it is a great idea and a great learning tool. I first learned ASL in high school when it was offered as a foreign language and I knew it was for me. I am a visual learner and remember things I see as opposed to things I hear. I loved learning ASL and learning all about deaf culture.
My children have both learned ASL from Signing Time! They love learning the signs and have been able to communicate on a level that not all children can. Both of my children were early talkers and continue to have very large vocabularies. My 5 year old can read very well and I know that learning ASL as an infant has made an impact.
Everyday when I drop my daughter off at school we use the ASL sign for "I love You". She holds the sign up until she walks in the door and can no longer see me, I do the same to her.
Rachel Coleman, the co-creator of Signing Time! has a daughter with Cerebral Palsy as well and Spina Bifida. Her daughter can communicate orally and using ASL despite doctors saying that she would never be able to communicate with them. Rachel's other daughter (and older) was born deaf so they of course started teaching her ASL.
Read more about Rachel's amazing story at
As a mother with a child with severe Apraxia of Speech, sign language has been a necessity. Our son, 7, can hear but not respond verbally. Teaching our whole family has been somewhat of a challenge but being able to communicate with our son is truly priceless. The Signing Time videos have been an excellent learning base.
I enjoy seeing children's programs that incorporate sign language in their shows.
When I was pregnant I bought a video and book about signing with babies. Then one of my twins was born deaf. I had taken ASL as my foreign language in college, and I was already planning on signing with her; so it was not a shock to have a deaf child. We also sign with our twin who is hearing. It helps her develop her speech. I, too, have discovered Signing Time! It is by far the most entertaining ASL educational tool I have found. It has given my deaf daughter most of her signs and my hearing daughter most of her verbal words.

To answer your question, I believe that signing with hearing children is a great idea. I was for it before having a deaf child, having read the research done out of UC Davis, and now I am even more for it because the more people who sign the better this world will be for my deaf daughter.
A lot of my friends are either teachers of the Deaf or interpreters and we all seem to teach our own kids ASL.
My district has several H.S.s offering ASL as language requirement and many teachers seem to at least teach songs or the alphabet to help kids learn kinisthetically.It's great!
I love it! We used ASL with our daughter when there was very little hope from the medical professionals for her future. By 18 months she knew all her letters and number by sight, sound and sign and now, at 4, she can read! What a gift to be able to prove the medical community wrong, and to communicate with her before she could speak. We grew stronger as a family because of the bond we developed while signing - and avoided tantrums in the meantime!
We have been using Signing Time with our kids. Our kids are hearing, but I think this has been a great program to introduce our children to another language. The benefits we have seen have been enormous. My 2 year old son started signing at 9 months old and he has been talking sooner than most 2 year olds and I am positive it is from learning ASL. But because he was able to sign before talking we haven't had the frustrations of not being able to understand what he needed or wanted because he could sign. By watching the videos with him, we know how he signs and so it is easy to understand.
i watch signing time in the tv, it comes out about once a week. it's fun and interesting to watch, you really learn a lot. my brother also enjoys watching it, we're always waiting for it to come out. no one in my family has speech problems, but it's still useful to know it. it would be nice to meet someone i could use it with, still looking.
I totally agree. I started using ASL with my son before I even knew he had any special needs. By the time we found out he has hearing loss and CP he had already learned to communicate with us through sign languge. I took ASL before my son was born and several people in the deaf community were just so happy that a hearing person was taking the time to learn their language. Our family has also used Signing Time products and have been extremely happy. The lady Rachel Coleman is just so talented, we just love to hear her sing. Hey did you know Signing Time is now airing shows on Public television? Visit their website to learn more:

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