Welcome to CHOICES Delaware

Language choices for Delaware kids

Making Language Choices Available to Delaware Families of Children with Hearing Loss  is a coalition of parents, educators, advocates, and health care professionals that came together in 2009 to work for change in public policy and procedures so that families may have the opportunity to make informed choices for their children.

Important Information for Families

If you are a Delaware resident and the parent or guardian of a child with hearing loss, you should know the following.

  • In many—but not all—cases children with hearing loss may be able to attain the ability to access sound and spoken language with appropriate intervention in the earliest years of life. Medical, audiological, and other appropriate evaluations can help determine whether or not your child is a candidate for spoken language and technology-assisted hearing.

  • If you delay this intervention, access to listening and spoken language may be difficult or impossible to achieve later in life. The window of opportunity begins to close at about the age of 3.

  • Like some other schools for the deaf, Delaware School for the Deaf promotes what it calls bilingual/bicultural education. In bilingual/bicultural education, a child’s primary language is American Sign Language. We consider “bilingual” to be a misnomer because it implies that children will learn to speak and sign with equal fluency. In reality, many children who receive “bi-bi” education eventually rely mainly or exclusively on sign language.

  • Several families that Choices Delaware has interviewed between June 2009 and April 2013 have stated that their children were allowed to talk at Delaware School for the Deaf until they reached the age of 3. At that time, their children were either strongly discouraged or prohibited from speaking in class This data is consistent with family stories that the Wilmington News Journal published in 1997.

  • Families that Choices has interviewed have said they never learned of alternatives to Delaware School for the Deaf. Parents who may want their children to listen and speak often only learn that such an outcome is possible when they do their own research. Watch this video to see some success stories of Delaware children who attained listening and spoken language with the aid of cochlear implantation and suitable therapy.

  • On a national basis, the typical 12th-grader in a school for the deaf has the reading ability of a nine-year-old. Traxler, C.B., (2000). The Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition: National norming and performance standards for the deaf and hard of hearing students. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 5(4), 337-348. Such outcomes are unrelated to intelligence.

  • More than 90% of all children born with hearing loss have parents with typical hearing. When such children attend a school for the deaf, they are often not able to communicate effectively with their parents, who are usually unable to sign with much proficiency. The inability of a speaking parent to communicate with their signing child has a detrimental effect on the parent-child relationship and contributes to delays in the child’s development.

  • Delaware School for the Deaf is an appropriate choice for families who want their deaf children to use American Sign Language as their primary language. When hearing families embrace this choice, a commitment by the family to become fluent or at least conversant in ASL will contributed to a positive outcome for the deaf child. For other families, Listening and Spoken Language might be a more suitable choice. Browse this web site for more information.