Critical Issue 6: Professionals supportive of including sign for children with cochlear implants are often isolated, without the support of a professional network for sharing experiences and strategies and without funding for possible research and collaboration.
The causes of this issue as an obstacle were believed to be related to:
- The lack of national leadership to promote networking and collaboration.
- The way the field has not considered it a priority.
- The lack of resources allocated for this purpose.
Some of the identified challenges related to addressing this issue were:
- The lack of a central organization that supports integration of sign language and spoken language for children with cochlear implants.
- Best practices have not yet been identified.
- The lack of enough time in midst of doing our jobs.
- The difficulty in balancing parent wishes, medical community recommendations, and what is known about effective practices for all deaf children.
- Conflicting philosophies with some hospital CI Centers
- A fear of honestly sharing beliefs and perspectives.
- The lack of a consolidated research review document providing support for use of sign language for children with cochlear implants.
- The challenge of dispelling myths about bilingual education for deaf children.
Some of the strategies identified by conference participants to impact change in this area were:
- Establishing a centralized clearinghouse for information sharing for professionals seeking to share information on use of sign and spoken language for children with cochlear implants.
- Establishing a national organization with certification possibilities (ASL/English-CI).
- Including training at the University level on developing ASL and spoken English in children with cochlear implants
- Encouraging the Clerc Center to provide a host page on their website with a United States map showing where schools and programs of the deaf are located; resources; and professional development opportunity descriptions (schools could upload information pertaining to their school, workshop opportunities, etc.).
- Establishing a list serve group for CI/ASL professionals to enhance continuing contact and information sharing.
- Using the ASL/CI blog as a resource.
- Encouraging the Clerc Center to develop a newsletter to share effective strategies.
- Encouraging the Clerc Center to collaborate with the Gallaudet Regional Centers to promote training on the use of spoken and sign language for children with cochlear implants.
- Establishing a National Training Center with the Clerc Center as lead, while ensuring it is a collaborative effort that includes all national and appropriate organizations.
- Sharing information about the effectiveness of philosophies and strategies inclusive of both spoken language and sign language for children with cochlear implants through organizations such as ASHA, ASDC, NAD, CEASD, CAID, Hands and Voices, etc