Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

how do deaf people learn how to speak?

i don't know a lot about deaf people, as i don't personally know anyone who is completely deaf.

i'm not referring to people who become deaf later on or have already learnt how to speak. i was wondering how babies or children who are born deaf learn how to speak for the first time? i mean, they cannot hear other people and themselves speak, so how do they know how to pronounce words?

334 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Wow, I am amazed at some of the answers on this topic. Some very insighful and others.... a bit naive!!!

    First of all.... we don't SUFFFER, and yes we do have a brain and can think. Yes we rely more on our vision, in a sense we hear with our eyes. In stead of taking in information from our environment through the ears, we do so through our vision.

    Even though an individual may have some residual hearing when they are born, does not mean they can talk. And not all are taught sign lanuage. (I wasn't) And since we aren't suffering, the MAJORITY of us do not have someone accompaning us everywhere to interpret. There are other ways to communicate!

    *SIGH* Now that I go that out of the way.......

    My brother and I were taught to talk. I had a bit more residual hearing than he did. Hand placement on the throat, nose and mouth help one feel the vibrations and movement of escaping.

    For example put your hand one inch away from your mouth. Say the word popcorn, and thank you. Feel the difference. These are jus a few of the many ways to teach a child to speech patterns. Lip reading plays a big factor as well.

    There is ALOT of speech therapy and practice involved. Infact I HATED it growing up. (now, I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my mother insisting I speak and hear).

    I am grateful to her. Yet I felt a part of me was missing. I learned sign language when I was in highschool.

    This is a tough subject. Very contoversial within the Deaf Community.

    Is one better than the other? It depends on the family and most of all, on the individual themselve.

    ~peace and blue skies

  • 1 decade ago

    The best way is a form of teaching called 'Total Communication', this involves teaching sign language and learning how to speak as well. That way they can develop there skills in other areas.

    No D/deaf person is 100% deaf

    It is mainly a form of learning where the tongue goes and teeth (e.g the letter 'f' is made by the teeth going over bottom lip and the sound 'th' is made by the tongue between the teeth). There is also breath sounds too as well as how much force to put into the voice. The force is determined by the vibrations in the throat.

    Try renting the movie 'Children of a Lesser God'. The RNID will also give you a lot of information of deafness.

    By the way, and this is not an attack towards the person asking this question, Deaf people don't see themselves as suffering. It is a way of life, they will choose to speak if they wish to. They are not afflicted and they should not be treated as a hearing person, they are deaf. That is not to say that they don't deserve the same respect. Hearing people are not forced to learn how to sign, why should the deaf be forced to learn how to speak. When signing was banned, if a child was taught signing they had there fingers taped to the table. There is a horrid history of this.

    Source(s): Worked with the D/deaf for over six years
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago


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  • 1 decade ago

    First of all, not all deaf people will learn to speak at all. Some purists insist on only using Sign Language while most are "pre-lingual" deaf (they cannot hear anything and haven't since before they were speaking age).

    There are two primary ways:

    The first is the first is the same way that Helen Keller learned (granted that she already knew some sounds before she became deaf). The person can see the movements of the mouth (or feel them if they are also blind) and feel the vibrations in the throat as well as any "explosions" of air from letters like "P," "T," or "B."

    The more modern way is by teachign children hand signs that represent sounds, not letter/words. The child is forced to make these sounds and a hand signal is taught.

    Either way, a deaf person must be just as careful as a non-deaf signing student. While studying ASL, my teacher, who was really deaf, taught us how to sign "sit," however, she said something else... Oh well, we all got a cheap laugh.

    Source(s): My college ASL teacher who was born mostly pre-lingual deaf.
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  • 1 decade ago

    I hate to say it, but it depends!

    There are differerent levels of deaf.

    There is hard of hearing,

    There is talking deaf

    and there is deaf mute/profound deaf

    Obviously the hard of hearing can hear some sounds, they are vigurously trained from a young age to make sounds. They have years of speech training and as a result through trial and error can learn to talk.

    Same goes for talking deaf.

    The Deaf Mute or profoundly deaf...really can not hear. They can sometimes learn to talk by the same mechanisms above but typcially are not hugely succesful.

    There are now cochelar implants that can be surgically placed in the ears of certain deaf candidates that can help them hear. However, depending on how old they are -there are many other things to consider. The deaf look at their inability to hear as a culture - it is their world and changing it takes away everything they know. So it is difficult to make this change in someone who has been deaf all their life at an older age.

    Imagine that you are purple and you see nothing wrong with being are with all purple people, and someone tells you that you are disabled and need to be yellow. It is a culture shock!

    Also consider hearing that an apple is an apple for the first time but not knowing that is what the word sounds like. In many ways it is emotional as well as cultural.

  • 1 decade ago

    Most of it is done with a mirror in front of them so they can SEE the words, the mouth formation of the word and feel the sounds they make with their vocal cords. Not every child that is deaf will learn to speak. Many choose to sign only. Some children who are classified "deaf" may have slight ability to hear some sounds. "Deaf" is a very large range......there is mild, moderate, severe and profound. There is always new technology out there and several new hearing devices other than hearing aids that can help to give a child SOME range of hearing ability.

    Just so you know...people who lose their hearing later in life also will lose the ability to speak if they don't practice and keep up the formation of their words also. When you can't hear what you are saying, it makes it difficult to remember how to pronounce the words over a long time period.

  • Annie
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Just to clarify to some people...Most babies that are born deaf ARE NOT taught sign language. Many physicians believe that once I child is taught to sign or gesture that then they will never learn to speak and therefore will never be "normal". The vast majority of those that do use ASL (I dont know what the stats are for other countries and other sign languages) have parents that know very limited sign, or none at all. While ideas are changing among the medical community (mostly because of the "Baby Sign" movement) about the effects of teaching deaf or hard of hearing babies to sign, it is still the general opinion that speech should be taught first. Most deaf children do not learn sign until they are in school. Some are sent to a "Deaf School" and they tend to pick up ASL there from the staff that are typically Deaf adults or relatives of Deaf adults. Others, that are "mainstreamed" are taught either primarily to speak or taught some form of Manually Coded English. These sign systems are NOT ASL or Sign Language, but English expressed with the hands, ASL on the other had has its own grammar and nuances, where as MCE systems mimic English.

    Speech is often taught (successfully) to children that are either "post-lingually deaf" (that is they lost their hearing, or most of it, after they had acquired some form of language, perhaps at age 3 or older) or have enough residual hearing that they can be aided with Hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems or other such devices. Just because someone is diagnosed or labeled as deaf does not mean that they cannot hear anything at all, it means that their is enough hearing loss to be medically labeled as an "impairment" (though the use of words like that cause a stir among the deaf community, because many will tell you that they are not impaired, handicapped or disabled).

    Source(s): AA in Deaf Studies and a career in Sign Language Interpreting, I have also been signing and had deaf friends for the past 12 years, even though I am not deaf or hard of hearing myself.
  • 1 decade ago

    I've taken some sign language lessons and although I never really asked since I thought it might be a touchy subject, I think I might have an idea.

    Most deaf people aren't completely deaf. They can still hear sounds and can get an idea of how to speak. Also, deaf people aren't always mute so they can be quite noisy, especially the kids (Believe me, I know.)

    I guess for those that are completely deaf, they're taught how to form their mouth properly and when they the sound right, the teacher says so. Even then, their speech is a little difficult to understand and only those who still have some hearing can speak properly.

  • 1 decade ago

    its amazing when a deaf person does talk. i am hard of hearin and i believe i speak very well. when i was taught i read peoples lips, and i still do to this day. I read peoples lips, i used to touch the throat. i used snuggle with my dad more than my mom for the vibration. everyone does learn it differently, its harder for others than some.

    you follow the lips and the feeling, the vibration, the excitment into a word or the sadness of a word, its a sense we know but we never know how loud we are.. over the years you'll just know.. a lot of people can talk, just refuse to do it they dont what it sounds like.

    Theres also different degrees of deafness, like I'm almost deaf without my hearing aids, I can hear like a mumble, or a rumble but never something clearly without my hearing aids, never just a regular voice. So what you can hear, you won't do but what you can do is the loudest. There are words I can't say right with the S SH C CH ST STR etc i usuallly will not use words providing those letters with people that are family.

    I can't describe how to teach a deaf person to talk, but it's more of a different effort on our part, almost learning in our own way that no one could understand but the help to speak is a starter and then we are on our own.

  • 1 decade ago

    Some deaf people do have a little hearing, hence being able to speak. Alot of deaf children are born to hearing parents, and the children imitate the mouth movements the parents make as they speak as well, they also put their hand in front of the speaker's mouth to feel the air escaping, and on the throat to feel the vibrations.

    And I must say, people on here are VERY ignorant toward Deaf People and the Deaf Community. I have studied ASL for five years, and I am 80% deaf myself (not from birth), and I am appalled and sometimes offended at what some of these answerers have had to say. I don't know about people who are born Deaf, but I take offense to being called a "deafie", as I have had a former employer refer to me as "deafie". It's like calling an obese person "fatty". My opinion is, if you have NO idea what the answer to the question is..don't answer it.

  • 1 decade ago

    Couldn't help but notice how many people feel some one deaf automatically is mute. A deaf person can speak the same as others. The level of speech clarity has to do with why and when the deafness occurred.

    The methods use are varied by person and teachers. The link provided reads well, if you want to jump to a closer match, after clicking link go to page 5.

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