Are deaf people deprived of their “mother language”?

Today, we celebrate “International Mother Language Day”. Held every 21st day of February as approved at the 1999 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it was born out of the initiative of Bangladesh and has been observed worldwide since 2000.

UNESCO commemorates this day to the belief that,

in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies. It is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others. [link]

This recognition centers on the observation that native languages are increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Dominant languages have been emphasized excessively that modern kids were discouraged in schools to use the language they use at home. Aside from that, books and other written materials using their mother language were scarce and readily unavailable. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with a growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

But what about those who are deprived of language acquisition? What about those who were not able to access their “mother language” the moment they were born? How do we address those vulnerable sectors, most especially those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing?

What is Language Deprivation?

Language deprivation means, exactly, a language that is taken away from people. According to Therapy Travellers Website, Language deprivation is

 the term used for when a child does not have access to a naturally occurring language during their critical language-learning years. [link]

Deaf children are the most affected because they are not exposed to a language that would develop their cognitive growth. A deaf baby has not received any language exposure during the critical period between ages 0 to 2.

To illustrate,

stick figure of parent asking a hearing child what he wants and replies with milk, milk, milk
The hearing parent asks his hearing child what he wants. The hearing child replies by speaking what he needs which is milk.

 

The hearing parent can readily communicate with his baby what he needs because they both have access to sounds and speech. A baby with no hearing impairment would easily acquire speech and language. Studies show that the brain forms more than one million new neural connections every second from age 0 to 5. This means that they can accumulate emotional and physical health, social skills, and cognitive-linguistic capacities that emerge in the early years. [link]

 

 

stick figure of a deaf child asking milk but the parent doesn't understand
A deaf baby asking his father to give him milk. But the father asks “What do you want?” because he does not understand the baby.

Now compare that with a deaf baby interacting with his parents. Since a deaf baby does not hear her parents, he does not understand what they mean. He cannot associate any actions to the words or phrases that come out of their parents’ mouths because nothing enters his ears. No matter what the baby utters, the parent cannot seem to understand him. Does he need to pee? Is he hungry? Does he want to go out? Is he sick? Does he want to play? Situations like this often lead to frustrations, irritations, and tantrums. Eventually, this leads to ignoring the baby’s needs and thus stunt his overall emotional and intellectual growth.

That is language deprivation.

 

 

Worldwide, over 5% has disabling hearing loss, roughly 466 million people. 90% of deaf children are born with hearing parents. This means that their parents are not familiar with or even aware of how to deal with having a deaf child. So, their tendency is to just give the deaf kid what they perceived he wants without affirmation that it was really what he wants. Worse, the parents would just let them be and do their own thing. Problems in the delay in language development would appear when they are already in school, work, communicating with others, and even self-confidence.

Baby Sign Language

Research has shown that early exposure to a first language will predict future language outcomes. The earlier he can acquire a language, the better he can succeed. And since a deaf baby can learn a language using his eyes, he should be exposed to sign language at the earliest possible time.  Because signed languages are the only languages that are 100% accessible to a deaf child, we can be sure that the child’s brain is receiving language input.

Stick figure of a parent teaching his deaf child the sign for milk
A parent teaches his baby the sign language for milk while at the same time mouthing the words milk and holding the feeding bottle.

Deaf children who do not learn to sign until later in life are more likely to process signed languages not as linguistic input, but as visual input, contrasting with children exposed from birth, who process signed language in the same region of the brain in which hearing people process spoken language. Scientists suggest that the best guarantee of good language outcomes for Deaf children is to establish Sign Language as a secure first language before a cochlear implant program (CIP) is considered.[link]

I created an infographic about this today as part of our Deaf Sensitivity Series. It was posted on the official Facebook page of our school for the deaf. As of this writing, it has been shared nearly 50 times. Feel free to download the image below. 🙂

infographic

You may also view a very informative video below created by Nyle DiMarco Foundation of the hugely popular “America’s Next Top Model” deaf winner.

Happy International Mother Language Day! 🙂

Yay! First 500,000th Visits!!!

Happy 500,00th visits

Yehey! I reached the biggest milestone in my blogging career! I reached my first 500,000th visits!

Wow! I have been blogging for twelve years! According to my WordPress Stats, I have now published 435 blog posts. I also accumulated 285 email followers and 56 WordPress.com followers. I achieved the biggest post view per month this January 2019 at 8,600 views. This is when I posted the article about a deaf person who committed suicide which also received the biggest post view per day with 3,995. The blog was posted on January 23, 2019.

My biggest referrer is from Search Engines like Google with 229,614 searches followed by Facebook with 13,595. My all-time dependable Reddit Style Feed deafread.com sent 11,225 site traffic.

My top searched person is of course, “Marlee Matlin” with 1,784 followed by the Filipino movie with a deaf actor “Dinig Sana Kita” at 1,616 and Filipino Sign Language with 1,465. My top page is naturally the home page with 187,793. A distant second is about Former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca with 30,274. The third is my history of deaf education history in the Philippines and the fourth is about Spider-Man.

My top visitors per country are from the Philippines, followed by the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India and Australia.

To my faithful readers, thank you, thank you very much. Thank you very much, Father God, for giving me the strength to continue documenting the activities and triumphs of the Filipino Deaf.

Now, on to my next 550,000th visitors. 🙂

“Isa Pa With Feelings” Actors sign Deaf and Hearing

cargel.jpg

Last week, I got hold of this image being shared on Twitter and eventually on Facebook which landed in the Filipino deaf community pages and groups. It was, I guess, owned by a certain @cargel_nation2, as what appeared on the bottom of the image. After a careful search, I found out that the owner of this image did not say who he/she is. Only that he/she is a Carlo Aquino – Angelica Panganiban Loveteam Fan. But I am pretty sure the original image was taken from the Black Sheep Production, the producers of the movie “Isa Pa With Feelings” which I and my deaf students/alumni are excited to watch for free this October 18 courtesy of “Lawyers and Friends for Maine”. 🙂

However, I noticed that the signs were incomplete. These signs were not a one-hand movement but a combination of two actions. People who want to learn sign language might get confused and understood this as a static sign. So, I went to my dusty old Adobe Fireworks software and created an animated version (GIF) of the signs. The movements are not that complex. I simply copied the hand, used the Rubber Stamp and Blur tools and pasted it meticulously to generate the second sign. Lastly, I combined the two using the State command to create an illusion of movement.

To my dear readers, introducing, the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) of the words Deaf and Hearing!!!!

carlo deaf animated gif1.gif
Carlo Aquino signs DEAF.

The FSL sign for “deaf” is very much the same as American Sign Language. The index finger first points on the lower part of the ear lobe. Then, the finger touches the side of the lips. As far as I can remember, this is the only sign the Filipino deaf uses to introduce themselves. Pointing both the ear and lips might describe that they cannot hear and speak. Even though we know that there are many deaf who can speak, this sign has been deeply rooted in their culture that any variations or changes on this sign never became widespread use.

Carlo Aquino plays the deaf tutor in the movie. He is a hearing person in real life.

maine sign hearing animated gif
Maine Mendoza signs HEARING.

This FSL sign for “hearing” is the one being used by the majority of the Filipino deaf. The first handshape is like a bent “C” near the ear without touching it. The second hand-movement is elongated or long-shaped “O”, also near the ear. The movement needs to be done many times and in quick successions. The sign means a sound can pass through a person’s ears and reverberates or in continuing effect.

The FSL sign for hearing is different from ASL. In ASL, the emphasis is on the person’s ability to talk or speak, so the sign points to the mouth or lips. To compare below is the ASL sign for a “Hearing Person”.

In the movie, Maine Mendoza plays the hearing person who wants to learn sign language.  Happy signing!!!!

PS: I did not personally ask the permission of the image uploader to use his photo. I hope he won’t mind. 🙂

Lawyers for Maine sponsors MCCID for Free Block Screening of New Movie

isa pa with feelings fb post

Our school Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf was fortunate to be selected by a group of lawyers and friends of Filipino Actress Maine Mendoza to watch her forthcoming movie for free this October 18.

The “Lawyers & Friends for Maine” group through one of their members Atty. Christine Lejano emailed our school inviting 50 deaf students and alumni to watch “Isa Pa With Feelings (One More Time With Feelings)” including free rides from our selected pick-up point going to the movie theater at Power Plant Cinema at Rockwell Mall in Makati City.

Isa Pa With Feelings is an upcoming Filipino romantic-comedy film starring Maine Mendoza and Carlo Aquino, directed by Prime Cruz. It set to be released on October 16, 2019, under Black Sheep Productions. It stars popular young TV and Movie Actress Maine Mendoza who is learning sign language and being tutored by Actor Carlo Aquino. Mendoza is from GMA-7 while Aquino is from rival ABS-CBN 2 which also produces the movie.

Philippine Actress Maine Mendoza clarifies misconception about deaf people

MANILA, Philippines — Popular Philippine actress Maine Mendoza has cleared a common misconception that deaf people have no voice.

In her Twitter account, the “Eat Bulaga” host reposted an infographic about deaf people.

“YES YES! Let me just clear this common misconception about deaf people. DEAF PEOPLE HAVE VOICES; but many prefer to sign (using FSL: Filipino Sign Langauge) because it is their first language and their right. Therefore, the term Deaf-Mute is not right dahil HINDI PO SILA PIPI, (because they are not mute)” Maine wrote.

maine tweet about deaf culture.fw

Maine stars as a sign language student in the upcoming film “Isa Pa With Feelings” with Kapamilya actor Carlo Aquino, who plays a deaf character.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑