When parents give birth to a deaf baby, Alba, they seek advice from a doctor. The doctor states that the best way for Alba to be as “normal” as possible is to give her cochlear implants and not use sign language. Throughout her childhood, Alba is constantly bullied by her peers. No matter how hard she tries to blend in, it’s never enough. She encounters setback after setback until a chance meeting in the library sets her on a new path. This leads Alba to make new choices that allow her to embrace the woman she was meant to be.
“Everybody is different- take the time to get to know the person and their background, and their capabilities. Don’t make any assumptions about what they can or can’t do because of the label that happens to be assigned to them. We’re very quick to assign labels, and we miss opportunities that way.”
Chris Soukup, CEO
Dear New Parents
Congratulations on the birth of your Deaf child! As a new parent, you have the hardest and most rewarding job of all: raising the next generation of humankind. You probably have many questions about things you’d never considered before you came face to face with your child.
We believe that Deaf children are meant to be Deaf in all the ways they want to be, not just a few ways that are chosen for them to the exclusion of others. We know that more can lead to more, and as Deaf children grow into the adults they are meant to be, they are perfectly able to take on as many of the offerings that they are given by families, friends, educators, researchers, professionals, and supporters.
We at CSD are made up of Deaf people from many different walks of life, and have taken on all these different offerings. We are parents of both Deaf and hearing children, and are children of both Deaf and hearing parents. We come from oral, mainstreamed, and residential schools. We use cochlear implants, hearing aids, or neither. We communicate using both English and American Sign Language, and other international sign languages. We represent a diverse range of genders, race, and cultures. This spectrum of Deaf experiences is a hallmark of our organization. And we all agree on one thing: being Deaf is an integral part of who we are.
We envision a world that sees Deaf people as an important and integral part of it, too. In a world where it is good to be Deaf, our children are not made to feel like they are “less than.” In a world where it is good to be Deaf, there is no need to “fix” one’s value on their ability to speak or hear. In a world where it is good to be Deaf, we can ensure access to language from the very start, and choose what’s best for each child. At CSD we believe very strongly that regardless of what choices you make for your child, being Deaf is something to be embraced, and that you don’t need any one particular technology or method over all others to be okay. You can have it all.
When parents of successful Deaf adults share stories with one another, we are reminded that there is no one correct way to raise a Deaf child. There is, however, one throughline. Regardless of the path you take, the one crucial factor that impacts your child’s future success is the age at which they gain access to and begin to acquire language.
We know, because so many of us relate to Alba Lopez in her journey to becoming who she was Meant to Be, in our third vision film. We at CSD offer many shared visions for the world, and they are meant to inspire, spark meaningful conversation, and represent the beauty that our diversity and differences bring to the world. We hope that you, too, want to build a world where your child can feel that being Deaf is good, and can get past that question and focus on what matters most: who they want to become when they grow up.
Professionals, researchers, and educators share different views on best practices in raising Deaf children, and it can become overwhelmingly confusing and difficult to know what the facts are. That’s why we created this resource page for you. We want to make it easier for you to understand the research out there so you can best support your child’s growth. We hope that it is helpful. Your child is lucky to have you as a parent, and with your support and encouragement, your child will thrive.
The CSD family is here for you.
Christopher Soukup, on behalf of all of CSD
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