Why the ACLU supports the right of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children to access language.
For deaf people, language deprivation during early childhood represents the most significant threat to the exercise of their civil rights and liberties.
Not having adequate exposure to a language early in life has profound, lifelong consequences. Deaf students nationally graduate from high school and college at lower rates. They are among the many youth with disabilities who are disproportionately funneled into the criminal legal system. Long term negative outcomes span educational and employment contexts, and are especially bleak for deaf and hard of hearing children who also share marginalized racial identities, such as those who are Black.
In the ACLU’s ongoing work to affirm the civil rights of Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and Hard of Hearing people in prison and on supervision, including their right to access effective communication, many of our clients share one common trait: they experienced the permanent, detrimental effects of language deprivation in their early years.
Nearly all of our clients in these cases were among the 96 percent of deaf children born to hearing parents who did not know sign language. These parents love their children, but struggle to provide them with full access to language, signed or spoken.
DAD Note: This post [by the National ACLU] apparently is the result of the local Delaware Chapter of ACLU post seen at https://www.aclu-de.org/en/cases/deaf-hard-hearing-education.