Family Dynamics for the Deaf

We at ASLdeafined would not presume to know the ins and outs of the family lives of those in the Deaf Community, as it is as varied as anyone’s family structure and experience. Yet, we felt it important to note some of the potentially unique situations that present themselves for the deaf. For example, it is said that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing families, and within that percentage, 75% of the hearing parents do not sign with their deaf child. Additionally, many siblings and extended family members (aunts, uncles and cousins) do not sign. As you can imagine, this would create an even more isolating situation for a child that is already set apart simply by the fact of their deafness.

Daily events like supper can leave such children feeling left out, as they may not know what is being discussed around the dinner table. Family reunions can be straining if the crowds overlook the challenges of the deaf relative. Although deaf students can alleviate this frustration some in a school with other deaf kids, this environment can also leave them feeling marginalized. One teacher for the deaf has shared that he sometimes had no knowledge of where the parents of his pupils worked or even what they did for a living. These are just a few thoughts, but it still leads us back to the bottom line… the more people to learn American Sign Language, the more likely deaf people can feel a connection in a world that is inherently isolating from the start. Will you do your part?