CBC: Mother of deaf girl strongly urges parents to learn sign language as soon as possible


In New Brunswick, Canada, a hearing mother of a deaf child, Heather Chandler, told CBC news that she is encouraging all parents of deaf children to learn sign language as soon as possible.

She said her daughter, Allison (6) was language deprived and couldn’t communicate for three years because nobody ever encouraged her to learn ASL.

Chandler said Allison was born deaf and she felt like she was pushed by doctors and society to “fix” Allison and make her “normal” by getting cochlear implants. 

However, CI specialists said Allison was not a candidate because of her auditory nerve damage. 

Chandler said she was upset and that it took a long time for her to accept this.

Chandler said she did start trying to learn ASL on her own, using the internet, but felt she wasn’t doing it right and had no support to help her stay motivated.

In 2014, Chandler contacted a local agency, New Brunswick Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, who sent a deaf interpreter to her home to teach them ASL. 

Chandler said that was when she noticed a change in the family because when Allison got more communication, she became happier and it made the family more happy. 

For example, Allison was able to ask her mother about the thermostat and what it was for. Chandler realized that Allison never knew because she never heard her family talking about it. 

One of the Deaf interpreters’ name is Joann Bourque. She did an interview with CBC where she said she had similar experience of learning sign language later in her childhood. 

CBC showed a video of her working and signing with Chandler and Allison.

Chandler now works for the agency and advocates for early access to ASL instruction.

The agency is providing Allison 2 interpreters for her education, one hearing and one a Deaf interpreter. 

Chandler said she is happy and relieved that Allison is able to express herself and communicate clearly, and hopes she will reach her full potential and catch up from lost time.