Resources for Families

Raising a child who is deaf of hard of hearing is no simple task, but with the right team assembled it can be easier. Beginnings SC is here to help parents do just that; build their child’s best team and ensure that team works together to achieve the best possible outcomes for their children. We are a unique organization that uses expertise and experience to drive our work with families and their communities.

We start by joining you on your journey at the time a referral is made, and we stand/stay with you through your child's 21st birthday. By providing emotional support and unbiased education Beginnings SC works with you to create an individualized plan specific to your child’s needs. We then help connect you with quality resources throughout your community that will add to the value of your child’s team and promote their success. As the needs of your child change, Beginnings will be there to help you revisit your individualized goals, and support you and your team as you work to achieve them. Knowing that each child is impacted differently by hearing loss, we also work with your team to increase their understanding of your child’s specific diagnosis and enhance the services they provide.

While you’re focused on building and working with your team, Beginnings also implements changes at a broader level. Working with childcare centers to screen, identify, and connect families to professional resources we venture to lessen the number of deaf or hard of hearing children that go unserved in South Carolina. Attending and hosting professional development workshops and trainings, we provide knowledge about hearing loss and how to effectively serve those who are diagnosed. We also serve on committees and travel throughout the state to ensure that those who are building South Carolina’s future do so in a way that promotes inclusion and access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

At Beginnings SC believe that every child who is deaf or hard of hearing in South Carolina has the right and the ability to reach the stars, and we’re here to help you build a team that does too!

FAQ

While SC, and the nation, have tremendously improved identification of children through the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program, the incidence of babies born with hearing loss is only 1 in every 1,000 births. However, when we look at children aged 1-6 the incidence increases to 6 in 1,000 and then increases again for school-aged children to 10 per 100. There are many reasons for these increases. One is that some types of hearing loss are progressive and are not present at birth; many syndromes cause progressive loss. Another cause is an injury causing hearing loss, an illness such as meningitis, or even chronic otitis media. Many states are incorporating more frequent hearing screenings, such as at each well visit between birth and age 5, and recognizing that this allows for more children to be identified at earlier ages.

They are everywhere! We would love to help you connect with other families who have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing. We estimate there are more than 12,000 school-aged children with hearing loss in South Carolina. This can certainly feel like an isolating situation to find oneself in, but we can help you meet other families who undoubtedly have shared similar experiences and can offer ideas, or just listen to your concerns.

From the American Foundation for the Blind - Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision. Teachers, parents, and others who are not visually impaired ordinarily read braille with their eyes. Braille is not a language. Rather, it is a code by which many languages—such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and dozens of others—may be written and read. Braille is used by thousands of people all over the world in their native languages, and provides a means of literacy for all.

While there are many people who are deaf or hard of hearing who also have vision impairment and may use Braille, this is a system utilized people with visual impairment and not hearing loss alone.

Short answer, no! Sadly, depending on whom you ask, you might get a different answer to this question. There are many works of research which seek to understand the impact of language acquisition and understand whether learning a visual language while also learning a spoken language is harmful. Many believe that the primary reason this is problematic for families is because they don’t already know the visual language. We know that a child with hearing loss is instantly behind on language acquisition, from day 1. Professionals and parents are constantly focused on filling the children with language and filling in all the gaps from the incidental language lost. A primary concern is that if the parent is also learning a second language while doing so, can they use enough language? This is a question we believe each family needs to examine for themselves. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing need intense and early language exposure. It must be purposefully and intentional every minute of every day. If families can do that in a new language, then they should be supported while doing so. ASL is a full language that has all of the grammar, syntax, structure and complexity of any spoken language. The only harm we find that comes to children with hearing loss regarding language is when they aren’t offered opportunities to fully express themselves and communicate with others - the language through which they do so is less important.

Great question! The short answer is, no! But that requires a bit more elaboration. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) says

"American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information. Sign language is not a universal language — each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, much like the many languages spoken all over the world. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. Like all languages, ASL is a living language that grows and changes over time. ASL is used predominantly in the United States and in many parts of Canada. ASL is accepted by many high schools, colleges, and universities in fulfillment of modern and “foreign” language academic degree requirements across the United States."

That said, 90% of deaf/hard of hearing children are born to parents who are hearing. Many of those parents have never met a Deaf person who uses ASL and so it isn’t a language with which they have much familiarity. Additionally, many parents’ first exposure to the world of hearing loss is from an audiologist and for many, their main focus is on hearing and helping a child access as much sound as they can.

Learning ASL is, unfortunately, a contentious subject and one that requires many conversations. More awareness is needed about the language, how it is learned, and the culture that exists within its use. There is a growing understanding of the language, the culture, and the many nuances and that has brought about a ever-increasing requests for ASL classes in our community.

Many parents use ASL with their children and many adults both Deaf, hard of hearing and everywhere in between use ASL to communicate but it is just one of the many ways a person who is deaf or hard of hearing can communicate.