East Texas deaf community says need for ASL remains despite advancements in technology

Deaf community says need for ASL remains despite advancements in technology
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 10:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2023 at 10:52 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The deaf community has relied on a variety of technology like video call interpreters, captioned telephones and cochlear implants, a device that is neurologically implanted to deliver audio information to the brain.

According to the National Institute of Health, about 118,100 devices have been implanted in adults and 65,000 in children as of 2021.

But the deaf community says these advancements are not stopping the need for American Sign Language. The Tyler Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center agrees.

“I was born deaf. I received a cochlear implant when I was five and learned oral communication. It was very difficult for me. People just assumed I was you know, “fixed,” in a sense, because I had one. But really I could not understand.” said Alana Husband, the community coordinator for the center.

She says these technologies are a tool rather than a replacement.

“It’s important for children, whether or not they have the cochlear implant, to always have visual examples of language. It’ll help them understand English and reading better and it’s great to introduce sign language to children and use speech as well.”

Alana adds, “The deaf community accepts cochlear implants and, you know, oral and different modes of communication, but, really, sign language is a very important aspect of it.”

Technology cannot always be reliable; it can fail. And former deaf educator Susie Grona says language deprivation is a major issue among deaf education.

“If a child doesn’t have any language prior to the age of three, it is very difficult for them to ever catch back up.”

Grona said, “The cochlear implants are a fabulous tool, but you know the language is in the ASL, you know the English word order, the ASL grammar. Everything that’s in there for the language exposure is just vital and we need to get that to these children as soon as possible.”

American sign language is the third most commonly used ;language in the country, after English and Spanish. The center plans to offer ASL classes this fall as the interest to learn the language is growing at the facility.