Review: Amy Signs

Amy Signs: A Mother, Her Deaf Daughter, and Their Stories - Rebecca Willman Gernon, Amy Willman

Readable memoir of raising a Deaf child before early intervention and LRE (least restrictive environment aka mainstreaming) was the norm.  Her daughter is an example of a successful, independent, productive adult raised by an involved mother and the residential Deaf schools. 


Amy, contributed several chapters to the narrative.  As with many Deaf adults,  Amy attributes her success to being taught in ASL, the opportunities for friends and adult role models that spoke her native language afforded by what would now be considered a restrictive placement at a residential school for the deaf.  She also rejects the idea of parents choosing cochlear implants for deaf infants and children.


As an outsider, I am again mystified by the apparent conflict between teaching/using ASL and English.  Amy seems to see it as an either/or choice.  Other families raise bilingual children all the time. In the absence of other intellectual or developmental disabilities, I guess I don't see why it shouldn't be the default assumption that deaf children should be raised as bilingual from an early age - even if it puts the burden of learning to sign onto the family as well as the child.


Learning ASL (along with gaining fluency in Hebrew) have been on my lifetime bucket list for a while now.