The World of the Deaf: The Fight for Languages


Deaf people do not have it easy. This is what the average Kowalski thinks when he sees a deaf man trying to communicate with a hearing person. It could be even worse. Deaf people are denied the right to their own language.

Because of this, they have difficulty communicating even with each other. Few Poles know that deaf people communicate in different languages. This community of people with disabilities has the greatest difficulty in communicating. Literally and figuratively.

When a hearing married couple has a deaf child (as many as 90% of deaf people in Poland are hearing children), almost always terrified parents do everything so that the child regains hearing and learns to speak. First, they storm the ENT specialists to restore the child’s hearing surgically.

Their expectation is confirmed by their doctors, who recommend that they talk to the child as much as possible. Never mind that he cannot hear the words or understand what is being said. Although it has never been proven, we still believe that it is speech that develops a child and that sign language delays its development.

When a child does not respond to words, the parents begin to communicate with him by sign language, creating their own, the so-called home sign language.First school When the child grows up, and the parents lose all hope that doctors, quacks and various treatments will restore the child’s hearing, they send them to a speech therapist to teach them to speak and read lips.

As prof. Marek Świdziński from the University of Warsaw, who has been interested in communication of deaf people for many years, “a hell begins for a deaf child”. For he is forced to speak in a language he does not know, to read words he cannot hear, and to respond to them with a tool (voice) that is unfamiliar to him.

If the child is not completely deaf, it is good that the parents talk to him, because some of these words will reach him – says prof. Świdziński. – They do not realize, however, that they were born a foreigner. Unfortunately, few professionals will tell parents that sign language communication is their only chance for a deaf child.

It is the only nonphonic language that can be naturally acquired by deaf people. What’s worse, parents do everything so that the child does not have contact with deaf children – after all, this is an acquaintance with the disabled.

And so the child begins to grow without language, contact with loved ones and without a chance for intellectual development. Parents lose the only possibility of a common language with the child. So happy is a deaf child born to deaf parents.