What is AGBell hoping to achieve by its portrayal that  Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) is a credible ideology?  Are they hoping parents of Deaf children accept it as a remedy for their Deaf child to become “normal” or “hearing”?

AGBell Association created the terminology LSL and its certification so to equate it as equal to “language” such as ASL, American Sign Language….hence they replaced the “A” with an “L”.    American Sign Language has been proven to be a fully developed visual language for the Deaf.  AGBell doesn’t endorse bilingualism (ASL and English) for Deaf children.   Their ideology for the Deaf child is to be verbal only… which means listening and speaking i.e. LSL without ASL.   LSL is all about portraying itself as a language when in fact it is still speech and listening training therapy-no different than what they have been doing for the past 130 years.

LSL therapy is becoming an added certification that professionals can add and is highly promoted in early childhood programs.  What hasn’t been investigated is the actual outcomes of the modern day LSL therapy and those it has failed.  Most of AGBell’s publicity using LSL is focused on younger children but very little focus on adolescents.    Those few teenagers that are successful with LSL programs are actually “the few”… “cream of the crops”… just like myself, John F. Egbert.  Yes, I am able to speak but unable to listen like a hearing person.   On the average,  oral Deaf people are able to speak at a variety of levels but to be able to listen is the most difficult in most situations. When I learned ASL at the age of 19, I finally was able to fully “listen” with my eyes.  I  became a normal person able to interact fully.

In the beginning, I did not really understand when someone said, “You have to know ASL to understand ASL”.  But now I do understand what that means.  Yes, I can speak very well and was trained to speak, in a lot of ways for the hearing society and their benefit.   What I find is most of us oral Deaf are not trained to understand the hearing society.  For me, I became  a “one way street” conversationalist.   That made it hard for me to receive all the data (conversation) from those who spoke to me.  I am not alone, my oral Deaf friends can relate to this type of communication that becomes a one way street.   It isn’t easy like ASL.

I will continue to advocate for all Deaf children to be bilingual, American Sign Language and English.  This includes Deaf children who are able to learn speech and listening.  The banning of ASL (sign language) in AGBell’s LSL therapies and through its professional certification is not only limiting for Deaf children but is harmful to a Deaf child’s full development.   AGBell needs to stop their manifestation against American Sign Language and do what is right for Deaf children by promoting a healthy whole child approach to language through bilingualism.  This is something we all can push for to ensure Deaf children today don’t have to suffer the same historical results connected AGBell’s listening and speaking therapies that ban the use of sign language.  Deaf children CAN have it all through ASL and English bilingually.

John F. Egbert




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