Philosophy of using
every and all means to communicate with deaf children. The child
to a formal sign-language system (based on English), finger spelling
(manual alphabet), natural gestures, speech reading, body language,
oral speech and use of amplification, and sometimes cued speech.
The idea is to communicate and teach vocabulary and language
any manner that works. Total Communication strives to provide an
easy, least restrictive communication method between the deaf
and his / her family, teachers and peers. The child's simultaneous
use of speech and sign language is encouraged as is use of all
visual and contextual cues.
PRIMARY GOALS To provide an easy, least restrictive communication method between
the deaf child and his/her family, teachers and peers. The childs
simultaneous use of speech and sign language is encouraged as is use
of all other visual and contextual cues.
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT (receptive)
Language (be it spoken or sign or a combination of the two) is developed through
exposure to oral speech, a formal sign language system, speech reading and
the use of an amplification system.
Spoken English and/or sign language and finger spelling and written English
Use of a personal amplification system (hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM
system) is strongly encouraged to allow child to make the most of his/her
At least one, but preferably all family members, should learn the chosen sign
language system in order for the child to develop age-appropriate language
and communicate fully with his/her family. It should be noted that a parent’s
acquisition of sign vocabulary and language is a long term, ongoing process.
As the child’s expressive sign language broadens and becomes more complex,
so too should the parents’ in order to provide the child with a stimulating
language learning environment. The family is also responsible for encouraging
consistent use of amplification.
Parents must consistently sign while they speak to their child (simultaneous
communication). Sign language courses are routinely offered through the community,
local colleges, adult education, etc. Additionally, many books and videos
are widely available. To become fluent, signing must be used consistently
and become a routine part of your communication.
High school senior, Devin, was diagnosed with a severe-profound hearing loss at thirteen months.. She wore hearing aids until receiving a cochlear implant 4 years prior to this filming at age 13. Devin attended a preschool classroom for Deaf/Hard-of-hearing children where “Total Communication” was used consistently and her parents learned to sign. She has received her education in a public school setting, with support from a Total Communication based hearing-impaired program that provided her with interpreters and resource assistance as needed.
“My life is normal I do everything…umm… I mean I love to go shopping … I mean I socialize with a lot of people, kids, people… You know, I mean even though Deaf people, you know, they should all consider their life as “normal” if they would just determine that’s what they want to do. So just step up and just go out and go shopping, I mean meet new people…Don’t think, “I’m deaf they are going to think I am stupid!” No, I mean I date…I go out with friends, hang out with my mom, my family, my friends. I go to high school. I go to public school. I’ve been mainstreamed since I was like Kindergarten… whatever…. So I really have a normal life, I would say.”