Accelerating English Acquisition and Reading Development In Total Communication and Aural/Oral Programs


It is a sad commentary on the education of children with hearing deficiencies that after more than two and one-half centuries of organized effort educators still worship at the altars of separate methods, when no one method is sufficient to meet all the needs of a single deaf child, much less the needs of all deaf children. I am using the term "deaf " to mean persons with a prelingual PTA threshold of 90 dB or more. In 1888 Alexander Graham Bell (Gordon, 1892) lamented the fact that of the then-existing three broad varieties of methods of instruction-the oral, the manual (fingerspelling), and the sign methods-each aimed primarily at remedying only one of the misfortunes of the congenitally deaf child. These he identified as lack of speech, lack of knowledge of written language, and lack of mental development which comes from intercourse with others. He affirmed the effectiveness of each of the approaches in remedying one of these misfortunes, but recommended taking what he called the resultant path, striving to solve all three problems through combinations of tools used within a single program. Today the situation remains the same. Oral educators are now further divided into advocates of aural/oral, auditory-verbal, and cochlear-implant camps. Those who use the slogan Total Communication give lip service to speech and hearing, and include fingerspelling and the teaching of written language. The tragedy is that the results have not changed significantly in the last century. The fact that both Total Communication and aural/oral methods have failed to produce acceptable levels o

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