I would like to add a few things for clarification especially for MDKM. I wish to have this discussion to be continued with cordial approach. It is correct that ASL is not the only first language of Deaf children since there are different sign languages found in different countries.
Coming from Newport, Suppalla, Bavelier:
"Sign Language (ASL), the visual-gestural language predominant in the deaf community of the United States and other parts of North America.
Cochlear implants, however, still cannot make a profoundly deaf child become a native user of oral language. Success of implants, thus far, at least, has been gauged by the ability of children to understand low-level speech sounds (such as the ability to discriminate between a “p” and a “b”), usually not by the child’s ability to comprehend and use full normal speech. Available research indicates that how well children with cochlear implants perform on simple audiological tests does not translate directly into skill in receiving and expressing language.
Research on a strain of congenitally deaf white cats by the group of Rainer Klinke and Andrej Kral in Germany showed that by adulthood a cat’s deprived auditory cortex has lost the ability to respond adequately to cochlear implants. Therefore, implantation needs to happen while the primary auditory cortex is still developing and maturing. We do not yet know if this is true for humans.
Pediatric clinical trials indicate that children who received implants before two years of age performed better on acoustic tests than those who received implants when they were between two and three. We still do not know, however, how successful these children will be in acquiring natural language.
Another vital consideration is what language exposure to give implanted children whose success with auditory language is unclear. Given the uncertainty in predicting the outcomes of cochlear implantation, it may be wise to expose children to a full natural language like ASL as a safety net.
There are few promising studies showing that children with “oral-only” training who receive implants often outperform a control group. In this research, however, the control group consists of not deaf native signers but of deaf children in a "total communication" program. The total communication approach uses a mixture of techniques including sign, writing, mime, and speech. It tends to expose children only to impoverished versions of English and of ASL, so that they attain fluency in neither. The few studies of cochlear implants that have compared deaf native signers and deaf oral-only children indicate that performance in these two groups is similar. The oral-only children do not do better."
So these researchers had studied and demonstrated the fact that it is always best to incorporate ASL in their childhood lives so why gamble? What AFA is promoting for ASL to be a part of every Deaf child’s early language acquisition stage not to exclude anything. It is not fair to say that this organization supports something just because a demonstrator who is not even a spokesperson said it is.
Also, the research statement above suggests that those who use SEE, Cued speech, etc. as a part of the "total communication system" are not as equivalent to deaf native signers and those who used oral-only approach with cochlear implants. That is why it is not suggestive to use Manually Coded English (MCE) system especially at school. It is interesting to note that this research has shown that oral-only children do not do better than deaf native signers and those who use MCE are worse than these groups. That is why it is so important to re-evaluate Deaf educational program that two languages are to be kept separate and that the CAEBER of Gallaudet developed a bilingual framework (signacy, literacy, and oracy).
However, when it comes to home use, parents' non-native like signing skills do have a positive impact on their Deaf child. For their parents to sign some is better than not signing at all. That is why there is a need of funding for ASL therapists to work with hearing families of Deaf children. Research points out that the degree of ASL proficiency that Deaf children develop during the Elementary school years, no matter if their parents are Deaf or hearing, is positively related to the development of English reading and writing skills (Cummins, 2006).
Another clarification that needs to be made is the number of research documents. It is not correct to assume that there are many Deaf children who are successful with oral-only or MCE approach as opposed to numerous documents showing achievement in language development since there is a positive relationship between ASL and English as indicated by researchers above. So why resist ASL as a first language if that is an easy way out for Deaf children? They should not have to struggle and go through a hard way to acquire English that is not natural for them. It is just a no-brainer.
A special thanks to Barb for allowing me to use this as a blog entry.
This is specifically for Miss Kat's Parents (Miss Deaf Kat's Mom, MDKM), but anyone who wishes to comment on this is equally welcomed. No one can say better than Barb, not even those righteous people who SCREAM left and right about RESPECT. Just don't be a hen, like AG Bell's sidekicks.