ASL University ►

Tracheotomy and voiceless:  American Sign Language (ASL) vs Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)? 

Update: Earlier I posted to this page correspondence with a mother of a child for whom the local school district was willing to provide augmentative and alternative communication assistance but not provide an ASL interpreter.

The family has chosen to escalate and as such have asked me to hold off on sharing their story with the world until after things have been settled.

So, instead of the original correspondence I'll simply provide a few key points and leave it at that for now. Thank you for understanding.

The Individualized Education Program, (IEP) mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a powerful tool to helps assert the right of parents to be involved in and help make decisions regarding their child's free and appropriate public education (FAPE) which is paid for by tax dollars.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is alluring to some school administrators in part because it is erroneously perceived as a one-time expense: buy it once, use it until it wears out. Which ignores the additional expense of training and equipment maintenance or shifts it to the parents or third party speech therapists.

1. Parents should be prepared to refuse to put their signature on their child's IEP document until they are satisfied that the plan is in their child's best interest. Be prepared to escalate. Review "IEP" websites for the specific processes and approaches.

2. The Deaf Community is not going away any time soon. American Sign Language classes are more popular than ever. Thousands upon thousands of students are taking ASL each year in every large city (and many smaller ones) throughout the United States. While it may be true that many Deaf children are being pushed into using Augmentative and Alternative Communication approaches -- a large percentage of "formerly augmented Deaf" later eschew ACC and migrate "home" to the Deaf Community as adults. Many individuals with cochlear implants (CI's) turn off their implants as soon as they "find" the Deaf Community and turn them on again only to do occasional "business" with the Hearing World.

3. It has been my experience as a member of the Deaf Community that we tend to accept entrants into our community who have made the effort to learn sign language and are reasonably humble.

4. If an individual attending college needs an interpreter the college is required by law ("ADA" and generally Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) to provide an interpreter. It is usually a good idea to contact your State's division of "Vocational Rehabilitation" -- they may be able to provide tuition and other assistance.

5. The "best" life approach for many individuals is a hybrid approach of ACC and signing. Most of us (eventually) spend time in both "worlds" (Hearing and Deaf) and thus benefit from both technology AND signing.

Best wishes,

-Dr. Bill
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.

Also see: Technological Advancements and their Effect on Deaf Culture

You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University
ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy Dr. Bill's "Superdisk."

Dr. Bill's new iPhone "Fingerspelling Practice" app is now available!   CHECK IT OUT >

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >


back.gif (1674 bytes)