Sign Language

By: Emily Salas

What is Sign Language?

It is simply a language which uses hands, facials expressions, and body language instead of voice. Like other languages there are different types. For example, there are English, French, Indian, and much more.

Facts About Signing

  • Sign Language- integral part and an identifying feature of membership in the Deaf culture
  • The majorities of Deaf people (90%) are born to hearing parents. They get Sign Language at school from peers. It is the first language of the majority of deaf children.
  • Minorities (10%) of Deaf children are born to Deaf parents and these children get Sign Language as a mother tongue.
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Starting to Educate Deaf

Geronimo Cardano

- Italian mathematician and physician

- First scholar that identified that learning doesn't have to involve hearing

- 1500's, deafs were able to learn using written words

Pedro Ponce de Leon

- successful Spanish monk to teach deaf in Spain

Juan Pablo de Bonet

- Spanish priest

- Inspired to teach deaf

- First deaf school 1771 (National Institute for Deaf-Mutes)

- Story ...

"L'Epee encountered two deaf sisters by chance when visiting a poverty stricken area of Paris. Their mother wanted him to educate her daughters in religion. After discovering their deafness, he wanted to educate the sisters. Soon after, he completely dedicated his life to educating the deaf."

Daily Life

Deafness is something that is experienced daily, from the minute you are born until after retirement. Whether you have hearing aids, a cochlear implant, or use sign language, you are always deaf.

Cause of Hearing Loss

There are many causes of hearing loss. Some major ones like meningitis and rubella, there are many more ranging from genetic syndromes to injuries. Genetic research continues to identify genes that can cause hearing loss. Some people are still unable to identify the cause of their hearing loss.

Accepting It

Long ago, deafness was not identified until a baby was already a toddler or even older. Today, deaf babies can be identified before they have left the hospital after birth. Identifying the hearing loss is only the first stage; new parents of deaf children also have to learn to cope emotionally with the knowledge that their baby is deaf.


  • Of all challenges in raising deaf children, the biggest one is education. The options include bilingual bi-cultural education, cued speech, oral only, and total communication.
  • Before disability rights laws were passed, most deaf students in the United States had only two options for higher education: Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Today, a deaf high school graduate can attend any college of their choice.
Working in the Hearing World

  • When a deaf student grows up or graduates from college, they faces the challenges of working in the "hearing world." Sometimes, the biggest challenge is getting a job because even though we have laws against discrimination, employment discrimination against deaf people persists. Some deaf people also opt for self-employment, starting their own businesses. There is also advice available for the employer who wants to hire a deaf person.
  • One challenge is that supervisors and co-workers may not be used to working with deaf people. Another challenge is that the deaf or hard of hearing employee may need certain accommodations and the employer does not know what or how to provide them.
Accommodations/ Retirement

  • Deaf and hard of hearing people need accommodations to have equal access to information. Accommodations can include captioned materials, interpreters, or stenotypists. There are also legal rights that guarantee deaf and hard of hearing people the right to such accommodations.
  • When deaf and hard of hearing people retire, there are organizations, and even retirement communities built for them.