Over the years of having this blog, I have gotten a lot of e-mails from people who have been inspired by Jazzie and her cochlear implants. I know that my blog will often come up when people are researching hearing impairment and cochlear implants. I also know that not everyone agrees with our decision to give Jazzie bi-lateral cochlear implants. I am not going to get into a debate on whether or not cochlear implants are right or not. I think you all know how our family feels about this.
As you know, Jazzie went to Ohio Valley Voices, which is an oral deaf school. What that means is that the students (who are ALL hearing impaired) are taught to speak and to listen. There is absolutely NO sign language. There is an argument that if you teach children with a cochlear implant to sign, that they won't speak (or maybe not as well or as quickly). Sign language is a lot easier than speaking, so some experts say that using sign language will hinder a child's progress in acquiring speech. We were encouraged not to sign with Jazzie when she first started on her cochlear implant journey. And for as much as I love Ohio Valley Voices and other oral deaf schools like it, I disagree with that philosophy. We have been signing with Jazzie since the day we first met her in China and we still do. Upon learning that Jazzie was deaf, I immediately signed up for American Sign Language classes at our local university. Before Jazzie was two years old, she had a sign vocabulary of about 400 words. And even though we don't sign as much as we used to, we still do. It is unrealistic to expect me to never sign with my daughter who is still a deaf child. I mean, there are times when we simply have to, because there is no other way of communication. When her processors are off when she is swimming, in the bath tub, in the shower or at bed time, she cannot hear anything so we use ASL.
I think that any professional/expert who listens to Jazzie's speech and takes a look at her overall progress with her CI's can see that us using ASL from the time that she was a baby has not hindered her in the least. I guess I wanted to publicly say on this blog what I don't think I have ever said before. We went against what professionals told us to do at the time.
If you are reading this blog because you are trying to get information on cochlear implants and an oral deaf education for your child, I am here to say that you can still use American Sign Language AND be a successful speaker and listener. My Jazzie certainly is. Here is a clip of her reading Green Eggs And Ham by Dr. Suess. Her reading level is way beyond this, but I wanted to showcase her speech as best as possible. Towards the end she uses some funny intonations and facial expressions. She makes me laugh, that girl :-)