Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 7: Choosing and learning a language

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Chapter 7: Choosing and learning a language

When a child is comfortable using the basic communication skills described in Chapter 4, she is ready to learn a language. A child who is deaf or cannot hear well can first learn a sign language (see Chapter 8) or a spoken language (see Chapter 9). Whichever language a child learns, it must meet her abilities and needs.

The language she learns first will depend on many things such as how much she can hear, which language she prefers, her natural abilities and the resources available in her community. It can also depend on how her parents react to her deafness. Knowing deaf people in the community may help parents be able to accept their child's deafness and also find ways to help her learn a language.

In places where there are few resources for deaf children, parents might feel that they have no choice about which kind of language their child can learn. But if you put your child's needs and abilities first, you will make the best decisions you can.

A woman and her child stand beside a small school and look at a sign that says "Deaf School, 20 km."
It is not always easy to know what is best for a child...
but you must try.