What do deaf people never admit?
Deaf children learn to speak correctly with sign writing and face writing
It is loud in the fourth to sixth grade of the state education center for the hearing impaired in Osnabrück. A perfectly normal lesson. The children between ten and 16 years have a text in front of them: "I have a red pointed cap." The students gesticulate vigorously, speak loudly, quite clearly and then begin to read together. It is not easy for an outsider to see that these children are deaf.
Around 80,000 deaf people live in Germany. That's about 0.1 percent of the population. Those people who are born without hearing or with little residual hearing are called deaf. Every year around 600 children are born deaf in Germany.
Deafness hinders learning to speak
Without intensive therapy, deafness means the restriction of spoken language communication: Deaf people have problems speaking correctly. Signs are often the only bridge to the outside world. The sign languages of the deaf are visual languages in their own right. Over the centuries they have been trained in communication among the deaf. It is important for parents of deaf children to learn sign language so that the child can be offered an adequate means of communication.
It is still very difficult for a deaf child to take on their hearing peers of the same age. Hearing is the prerequisite for the natural development of spoken language, i.e. for speaking. In this class of the state education center for the hearing impaired in Osnabrück, a new method is tried - with great success. Stefan Wöhrmann, psychologist and teacher, relies on "sign writing", a written form of sign language.
"The children should learn the German language in word and writing. This writing is not only important for deaf people, also hearing people can get to know the sign language better with the help of this new writing system. Deaf people themselves not only learn to read the sign writing, they do it It also makes it easier for them to write the German language. This learning method is still very new in Germany and one of several methods for the deaf that is only taught in a few schools, "explains Wöhrmann, who introduced sign writing in 2001 at the school in Osnabrück.
So far, sign language has been considered a language without a written form that is suitable for everyday use. Sign writing, however, is a way of documenting sign language in an easily comprehensible written form.
The American Valerie Sutton was the inventor of this writing system. Her primary goal was actually to develop a font for dance movements. As a young dancer, she always tried to write down dance movements in such a way that the spatial-dynamic aspects of the movements could be mapped quickly, precisely and easily. Later she developed a font for all sign languages in the world, the "Sutton SignWriting" - in German: "GebärdenSchrift" - which has developed into a writing system for sign languages over the last 25 years. It is used in 26 countries around the world.
With the German sign writing it is possible for deaf people to learn to read and write the German spoken language. The special font was introduced in Germany in September 1999 and has been further developed in recent years. For example, there is now a computer program that children can use to write the sign script directly in class.
Even small children from the age of three are able to grasp the pictorial representations. "Learning to write signatures offers the opportunity for systematic vocabulary training, as we are used to from other foreign language classes. The children develop self-confidence and are proud of their achievements, can acquire spoken language skills and thus have another chance to integrate into the world of the hearing , "explains Woehrmann.
The face script depicts the sounds of the German language
To improve the articulation of deaf children, Stefan Wöhrmann has developed his own font - the face font - which assigns specific speech symbols to the sounds of the German language. This visual typeface also proves to be extremely useful for expanding the vocabulary.
Dr. Klaus-B. Günther, Professor of Sign Language Education at the Humboldt University in Berlin, comments: "With the sign writing and the supplementary face writing, deaf children who are taught aurally inaccessible and bilingual - that is, in sign and verbal language - are provided with exceptional support instruments that give them early enables them to write in their basic language, sign language, and at the same time facilitates their access to written German. "
"You can only learn to speak by speaking. So the children should speak a lot. It must be fun for the children," stresses Wöhrmann. And it's fun for the kids. The students in Osnabrück can't wait to see how the story with the pointed hat continues.
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