Supporting speaking and listening
With the right support, commitment and encouragement from families and professionals, deaf children can learn to communicate as effectively as other children. This page introduces the communication approaches or methods available to deaf children and their families.
The different methods can be grouped into three types of approaches.
- Listening and speaking (Auditory–Oral or Oral/Aural).
- Sign language as a first language (Sign-Bilingual)
- Using a combination of methods flexibly – sign, speech and hearing, fingerspelling, gesture, facial expression and lipreading (Total Communication).
Children with all levels of deafness can try communicating with any of these approaches. There is no one method which should be considered better than another – it comes down to what works best for your child and your family.
Total Communication uses a variety of methods flexibly – sign, speech and hearing, fingerspelling, gesture, facial expression and lipreading – in whatever combination works best for the deaf child. It is based on the principle that deaf children can learn to communicate effectively by using any and all means that they can.
For more information download our guide Helping your deaf child to develop communication and language (for parents of 0—2 year old) provides practical advice on what you can do to encourage your child’s language and communication development in their early years.
In this section we introduce you to different approaches that will help you support your child's speaking and listening.