• People who are deaf or hard of hearing have many different communication options. There is often heated debate about which options are best. Practically every method is represented on the internet so use any major search engine to find out more about the communication option which interests you.

    American Sign Language is a manual language distinct from spoken English. It has its own syntax and grammar, and is the second most common language in the United States. It has a fascinating history, beginning in France in the late 1700s, and brought to the 1815 by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc. ASL is used as an expressive language, and written English is used to communicate with the hearing world. This communication method is also referred to asASL/ESL or bilingual/bicultural.

    Many people who are Deaf regard ASL as their natural language, reflecting their cultural values and keeping their traditions and heritage alive. American Sign Language should not be confused with Signed English or the use of the manual alphabet to spell out each spoken word. Many states, now including Alabama, accept American Sign Language as a foreign language requirement for high school students. 

    Interested in taking sign language classes?  Find the AIDB Regional Center nearest you for information on local classes. 

    Auditory-Verbal or unisensory is a program which emphasizes auditory skills. Children are taught to develop listening skills through individual therapy focusing on using any remaining or residual hearing with the help of amplification. Because this method is designed to encourage a child's listening ability, no manual communication is used and the child is discouraged from using any visual cues.

    Cued Speech is a visual communication system using eight hand shapes or cues to represent different sounds of speech. The cues are used while talking to make spoken language clear to the person who is deaf or hard of hearing. The cues help the listener distinguish between sounds that look the same on the lips.

    Oral/Auditory Oral is a program that teaches people to maximize the use of their residual hearing though amplification by the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, or an FM system. It also stresses the use of speech reading to help communication. Any sign language use is discouraged although natural gestures may be used.

    Total Communication is a philosophy emphasizing the use of any and all methods of communicating. Students may be exposed to signed English, finger spelling, natural gestures, speech reading, body language, oral speech and amplification devices. The goal is to communicate and teach vocabulary and language by any practical method.