The communication methods of deaf individuals have long been a topic of interest to both hearing and deaf people. The two ends of the communication spectrum for deaf individuals, Oralism and American Sign Language (ASL), both provide benefits for deaf individuals. However, the dispute comes when those who support each method define what is beneficial quite differently. Fundamental values lead those who advocate the Oral communication method for the deaf towards integration and educational benefits while those who support the use of ASL focus on natural rights and social-emotional benefits. In short, those who believe the Oral communication method is the most beneficial for deaf individuals disagree with those who believe the most beneficial method is American Sign Language.
The communication debate between the Oralists and the Pro-ASL groups is important because, according Barbara Schirmer in her book Language and Literacy Development in Children who are Deaf, the method of communication used can affect the social and educational aspects of a deaf individual's life (96). It is also an important topic to discuss because, as noted by yet another educational researcher and author Sue Schwartz, it is often a decision made for a deaf individual by another person, especially in the case of deaf infants and children (XII). In such cases the deaf individual is forced to use a communication method and reap only the benefits procured through the selected method. Furthermore, there are thousands of deaf individuals who are involved in this debate because communication is a major part of their lives, just as it is in everyone's life. In addition to these outcomes, one must consider fundamental values underlying this debate. The basis of this debate stems from differences in personal preferences which have been affected by historical influences. It is in this debate that parents, teachers, deaf students, deaf adults, and all involved can make a communication decision based on the values and benefits each method entails.
However before the two communication options are presented, it is important to understand the methodology and history behind the debate between the Oral and ASL communication methods. The Oral method and American Sign Language are the two most widely used and highly debated methods of communication for the deaf (Schwartz, XI). The Oral method of communication is that in which deaf and hard of hearing students are taught to use facial expressions, body language, residual (remaining) hearing, speechreading, and speech to communicate (163-65). This method does not use any form of signing, ASL, or fingerspelling. It may incorporate gestures such as those often used by hearing people like a hand wave for "hello." The Oral communication method does take extensive training and practice to master because a deaf individual must compensate for the lack of auditory input and learn to rely on speechreading, speech, and residual hearing. Fortunately, Oral communication has become more accessible to deaf individuals due to the recent development of assistive technology (BEGINNINGS 1). This includes hearing aids, FM Systems, cochlear implants, louder doorbells and telephones, and other such modifications that can easily be found at websites like BEGINNINGS, an organization that provides help for parents of deaf children. The concept of Oralism has existed since the time of the great philosopher Aristotle. Susan Easterbrooks and Sharon Baker, the authors of Language Learning in Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, note the fact that Aristotle believed deaf individuals could not reason because they could not talk (3). Consequently, those very few deaf individuals who were taught communicated via a method of Oralism. However, Oralism only became widely used and accepted in the mid-1500's when a Spanish monk, Ponce de Leon, began to educate deaf students through Oral communication for religious purposes (3-4). From there, the development of Oralism continued throughout the centuries, changing and advancing in instruction until it was commonplace for a deaf individual to solely listen and speak.
It was not until the late 1700's and 1800's that sign language became a communication method for the deaf and was used extensively. In fact, it was not until the 1800's that ASL was introduced to deaf individuals in America as an official communication mode (Easterbrooks 6-7). Sign language was brought to America in 1817 by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, an American clergyman in search of a new method of deaf education, and Laurent Clerc, a deaf Frenchman who used signed communication (7). Together the two men configured the beginnings of a signed language and established the first deaf school in America that lead to the development of American Sign Language. ASL is a visual language with its own grammar that uses manual movements to represent concepts (Schirmer 93). Some people consider ASL to be the natural language of deaf individuals because they use visual and tactile input to compensate for the loss of auditory input. ASL uses signs, classifiers, fingerspelling, facial expressions, body language, gestures, and miming to generate the language. It is also used by a group of people who include it as part of their culture, the Deaf Culture. Furthermore, according to testimonies posted on websites such as alldeaf.com, deaf individuals who use ASL usually chose not to communicate with voices as they are proud of being deaf and of the social status and ease that go hand in hand with ASL (AllDeaf 1). However, the freedom to practice the newly accepted ASL was stifled when the debate for the most beneficial communication method was kindled by the two extremes of deaf communication.
For the most part, Oralism won out as the top communication method used for deaf individuals in America until a decrease in use in the 1970's and 1980's (Easterbrooks 10, Schwartz XI). It was when the American Civil Rights Movement came about that ASL emerged as an equal and accepted communication method. As noted in an excerpt from Gallaudet University's "History through Deaf Eyes," the Civil Rights Movement and events that followed allowed deaf individuals to practice the natural rights of liberty, justice, and equality promised in the United States Constitution (1). Soon after obtaining these civil rights, deaf individuals also obtained rights under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 which is now known as Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) today. With these laws deaf and hearing individuals finally had the right to freely choose and/or use a preferred method in communication (Schwartz 90). As a result of the laws supporting both communication options, many opinions on which was the correct or most beneficial communication method for the deaf arose. Some chose to avidly support ASL while others fought for Oralism. Still others tried to argue a combination of the two could be most beneficial. These combination methods include Total Communication, Bilingual-Bicultural, and Simultaneous Communication (Schwartz 89, 210). These communication methods are all types of communication that combine the use of ASL and Oralism in some way. However, these combined methods are not as highly debated as are the two clear-cut extremes. This is so because those who support ASL truly value the benefits provided by it and the same is true for those who support Oralism. Since the beginning of deaf communication to the present, aspects such as laws, opinions, technology, and educational modifications have formed the evolution and popularity of communication methods for the deaf. Now, in the new millennium, the debate over the most beneficial communication method for the deaf still wages on.
There are those who believe the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals is Oralism. Those who believe in Oralism as the most beneficial communication method do so because of the benefits it offers for deaf individuals for assimilation into a hearing society and in education. Oralists to choose these benefits over those provided by ASL as they are based on personal fundamental values for what they see as most necessary in life. Oralists prefer to value educational achievement and the easy integration of deaf individuals into society, what Sign Media, Inc. calls a pathological view of deafness in the article "Perspectives on Deaf People" (1). These values that Oralists embrace come from the historical influences of educational endeavors and conformity to social norms. Education has been one value in which history has proven to consistently support as a key aspect in life. Starting with the elite, then men, women, and finally equal access to education for all, education has been a right fought for by many and has become a standard of life. Someone who contributed to the shift is Mary Wollstonecraft, an eighteenth century feminist radical who wrote Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 to ask that a national system of free and primary education be given to both men and women (139). Her plight, among others, continued the fight for education because she strived for equal opportunities for all. Since such struggles, education has become not only a privilege but a standard of life for all. People all over the world compete for the best education system or continually try to improve an existing system. For example, the United States requires education for all children and promotes laws for improvement like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (United States Department of Education 1). This in itself shows how greatly education is valued, desired, and in many places required.
Furthermore, Oralists also adhere to the historical influences to conform to social norms. Examples of people complying with the norm are all too common and could be listed in the millions. Some include conforming to religions, languages, cultures, appearance, and behaviors. To give a specific example one can look at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein which demonstrates that deviance from the norm is unacceptable and assimilation is the aspiration. The hideous monster created in the novel was unable to conform to the norm due to his appearance, and as a result, he wreaked havoc on the human race and he himself felt segregated, insignificant, and unloved (140). This very situation is scary for people to imagine themselves in because, just as with the monster, there is a desire for the comfort, value, and camaraderie that comes with acceptance (218). In addition, the damage an outcast can cause in society just as the monster did is undesirable. Any such ill fortune to society as a whole is unwanted. Therefore people wish for conformity or assimilation into the norm to avoid pain, segregation, and rejection. It is from these historical fears that Oralists acquire their fundamental value that assimilation into the hearing world is most beneficial for all involved. Again, like education, history has engrained in the human mind that assimilation is a "good" standard of life. Therefore, it can be understood why Oralists choose to select a communication option that will allow deaf individuals to excel in education and conform to the societal norm.
Accordingly, the Oral communication method does indeed procure higher levels of educational success and assimilation into the hearing society for deaf individuals. It is seen that deaf individuals using Oralism, compared to their deaf non-oral peers, tend to have higher vocabulary, literacy rates, and opportunities as seen in statistics presented by author of Educating Children who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, Patrick Stone (2), author Sue Schwartz (168), and in research on Oralism conducted by the Oberkotter Foundation in Speaking Volumes (I-35). Deaf individuals who use Oralism have "proficiency with spoken language and . . . have an average reading ability . . . of thirteen to fourteen-year-old levels, which is approximately double the national average for all children who are deaf" (Stone 2). Furthermore, programs using Oralism generally have strong academic curricula resulting in high achievement levels and more students who go on to complete secondary or higher education programs (Schwartz 167-168). This also results in "more social, educational, and work opportunities . . . [and] to a more fulfilling and independent adult lifestyle" (168). With such results, it can be understood why those who value education truly approve of Oralism. These benefits of Oralism allow deaf individuals to reap the educational benefits and equal opportunities that people such as Mary Wollstonecraft strived to obtain and society, particularly the Oralists, continue to cherish.
Furthermore, the Oral communication method also has new strategies and technology to assist in successfully educating the deaf. According to ASL Access, which is a leading organization providing media to deaf individuals, those who use the Oral method have more qualified teachers (1). Deaf individuals using other communication methods often lack qualified and fluent teachers as most teachers of the deaf are hearing adults. Therefore, deaf individuals using Oralism have a consistent and a plentiful supply of role-models who understand their primary language and how to teach with it. Also, as Barbara Bateman states in her book Better IEP's, there are laws such as the ADA and IDEA that ensure educational supplements or services are available to provide the proper aid and instruction necessary for the deaf individuals (1, 48, 140). This includes necessary services such as speech therapy, audiology services, and special education teachers to ensure educational success through Oralism. Also, the development of new technology has allowed for more deaf individuals to access oral communication, which in turn allows for easier access to educational information (BEGINNINGS 1). The recent developments in technology include cochlear implants, hearing aids, FM Systems, and several other devices that enhance the ability of deaf individuals to use their residual hearing. All of these developments assist deaf individuals in using Oralism to facilitate easier education. Because of the benefits received from the use of Oralism, increasing access to it, and the importance placed on education by Oralists, it is seen that the Oral communication method can indeed be beneficial to deaf individuals.
Moving on to address the second fundamental value of Oralists, it is known that they believe that assimilation of the deaf into the broader society, the hearing world, is beneficial. The benefits for the assimilation of deaf individuals are two-fold. First, deaf individuals benefit from it because they become included and accepted by the majority, the hearing population. Referring back to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the acknowledgement of society's conformity to the norm, the monster claimed that if only society would have accepted him, he would "bestow every benefit . . . with tears of gratitude at his acceptance" (218). Only the monster was not accepted because of his obvious differences from the social norm. It has been found to be the same with deaf individuals. Deaf individuals using a communication method other than Oralism have testified to having experiences in schools and the workplace where they have been less accepted because it was evident that they were different from norm (AllDeaf 1). As a solution to these negative responses, Oralism seems to diminish the obvious disparity from the social norm and create a sort of assimilation into society. With deaf individuals who can speak and listen like the majority of society, the differences are less noticeable and the deaf individuals are more readily accepted, which is again confirmed by deaf individuals' testimonies based on their experiences (AllDeaf 1). Using Oralism to assimilate deaf individuals into the majority allows them to feel accepted, which is a noted fundamental value of Oralists.
The second benefit of assimilation of the deaf is the ease it provides to the hearing majority during communication. Pulling again from Shelley's Frankenstein, one can see how communication would have been easier for all involved if the monster had been assimilated into society. The monster tried to communicate repeatedly with the majority of society, however, because of his differences people fled his presence and his simplest wish to convey friendship was even denied (128-129). Again, this is also so with deaf individuals. Although society today is a bit more accepting with the recent laws enacted to protect and ensure the rights of all, sadly a rejection of those who are different from the norm still exists. Deaf individuals who do not use Oralism tend to find themselves segregated from hearing co-workers and acquaintances because of the discomfort hearing people have around deaf individuals due to their "difference" (AllDeaf 1, Royal National 2-3). However, deaf individuals using Oralism can generally integrate into work and social areas because of their ability to "appear" assimilated into the social norms and therefore make communication for all less intimidating. For instance, deaf forum member Jill Arnold offers her experience for others to read on the website for Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID). She explains how when she used Oralism in the hearing workplace, there was more acceptance for her as she conformed to the norm (2). She confirmed that because Oral deaf individuals are able to speak and listen, co-workers and acquaintances do not feel the tension build-up concerning communication nor the need to "run away" to avoid confrontation. So, as Oralists value assimilation they find Oralism as the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals as it provides conformity with the majority. Altogether, it is clear that the Oral communication method provides benefits both in education and assimilation and, because of their fundamental values, Oralists declare it is thus the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals.
On the other hand, there is still the side of the debate supported by Pro-ASL groups who do not disvalue education and assimilation, but instead highly value social-emotional benefits and the privilege to exercise human rights (Schirmer 93-94, Sign Media Inc. 2, National Association 1). These values held by Pro-ASL groups stem from fundamental values affected by historical influences much as did the Oralists'. Thomas Hobbes, a renowned seventeenth century philosopher, provides the wording for the natural laws which are the base values of Pro-ASL groups and are generally respected by mankind (32). Hobbes states, "the first and fundamental law of nature . . . is to seek peace and follow it" (35). By this Hobbes meant to seek peace with oneself and keep peace with others. Developing social-emotional stability is one way to be at peace with oneself. Aspects such as an individual who can adequately function, hold positive self-esteem, and accept oneself are some examples of sound social-emotional development. As will be seen shortly, these aspects are known to be procured through using ASL, which is why those who support strong social-emotional development also promote ASL.
The second fundamental value of Pro-ASL groups, the right to practice the freedoms promised in America, stems from the second right of nature as stated by Thomas Hobbes, "the right of nature, . . . is the liberty each man has to use his own power, as he himself desires, for the preservation of his own nature" (35). The purpose of many of the Civil Rights and Constitutional amendments is to provide citizens of America the right to be individuals with the ability to make choices about lifestyles, religions, languages, and more (United States Constitution). This allows individuals to do what is suitable for them and their needs just as long as Hobbes' first natural law, peace for one and all, is factored in. Indeed it seems that the Constitution was influenced by the natural laws that provide rights to all human beings. These natural laws influenced the foundation of United States' laws and have continued to influence minorities throughout history to value them and fight for the right to practice them. One example of the plight to practice natural rights was that of Frederick Douglass who crusaded for the equal rights of African Americans in the 1800's. Douglass declared that the African American race was human and should therefore reap the benefits of liberty, justice, prosperity, and independence promised by the Constitution (Douglass 78-80). It is from historical influences such as Hobbes, the Constitution, and the idea of natural rights that seeking peace and preserving one's own nature was also engrained as a standard of life valued by society. Those who support ASL understand the privilege and compulsion to practice these natural laws, as they are rights that should belong to every human without question (National Association 1). Therefore, those people who choose to sincerely believe in a strong social-emotional development and application of natural rights as standards of life soon find ASL as the most beneficial method for fulfillment of them.
The evidence that verifies ASL as a pathway for procuring social-emotional development and the right to practice freedoms is thus presented. In order to "seek peace" in oneself and in society as Thomas Hobbes so appropriately called the natural right of every human being, a person must feel satisfied both with himself and with his place in society (35-36). It is through ASL that deaf individuals acquire inner peace with themselves and society. (Drolsbaugh 1-3, AllDeaf 1, Sign Media, Inc. 2). And, according to Terry Orsi who is the founder of the website called Deaf Education: A Parents' Guide, deaf individuals who use ASL as a communication method have indeed been found to have higher social-emotional development than those deaf individuals who do not (1). The deaf individuals who use ASL have higher self-esteem, feel valued, feel complete and not "broken", and have a strong sense of identity so they can feel accepted for who they are and not for what others want them to be (Orsi 1, Sign Media, Inc. 2). They also identify more readily with their deafness and are confident in themselves as a whole individual whereas those who use Oralism find themselves in denial of deafness, "fixed," forced to speak so they are more "normal," and devalued by society (Orsi 1). For example, Mark Drolsbaugh, a deaf man who uses ASL but also has experience with using Oralism, professes that while using Oralism he felt like a "half-loaf" but when using ASL he felt included, accepted, and like he was getting a whole-life experience, or what he calls a "whole-loaf" (1-2).
Furthermore, deaf ASL users receive additional social-emotional development because they can identify with a community of people that shares ASL as a communication method, the Deaf Culture (Sign Media, Inc. 2). The Deaf Community is a community that not only shares the communication method of ASL, but also shares a culture that gives acceptance to deaf individuals for who they are despite their "differences". Although this acceptance does come from a minority group, it comes whole-heartedly as conformity nor educational status is necessary. Belonging to the Deaf Culture allows deaf individuals to be proud of being deaf and form a stable and true sense of identity (Schirmer 94). In the Deaf Culture it is understood that deafness is not a disability but instead it is an accepted and respected characteristic (AllDeaf 1). In addition, using ASL as a communication method allows for equal interactions among deaf individuals within the Deaf Community. Conversing with other deaf individuals who share the same concerns, language, deaf pride, confidence, and self-esteem is invigorating and encouraging (Drolsbaugh 2). Thus, using ASL and belonging to the Deaf Culture has proven to be beneficial for deaf individuals' social-emotional development.
In addition to social-emotional development to promote inner peace, using ASL as a communication method also allows deaf individuals to exercise human rights. As Hobbes eloquently stated, it is the right of each person to preserve his own nature. This is not only a natural law as Hobbes describes it, but also a right accepted by the United States citizens and included in the United States Constitution. According to the Constitution, a person has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which shall not be denied unless there is reasonable cause and a due process (United States Constitution). And, because using ASL is one such freedom permitted in the Constitution, deaf individuals can feel free to practice the natural law to preserve their nature, which is to rely on visual input. Also, because of the freedom to use ASL, deaf individuals have received further safeguards to protect their right to practice it without consequences. The ADA and IDEA laws have both added further safeguards to allow deaf individuals to use ASL and not face discrimination or segregation in the workplace and other such places where they would encounter "the hearing world." With these legal safeguards to allow deaf individuals to use ASL freely, they do not have to jeopardize their self-respect or fear discrimination because of their communication method (National Association 1-2). Deaf ASL users may therefore preserve their natural tendency to use visual language without fear of unfair consequences. All in all, it is seen why Pro-ASL groups believe the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals is ASL. Pro-ASL groups fundamentally value the natural rights of a person to be at peace with themselves and exercise the right to preserve their very character. It is reasonable to understand how the social-emotional benefits and use of ASL as a communication method fulfill these fundamental values of Pro-ASL groups who then label American Sign Language as the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals.
After reviewing the arguments presented by the Oralists and the Pro-ASL groups, I find myself lingering on two conclusions. I believe the individual needs of the person must be taken into account when a communication method is chosen and that perhaps the middle road in this debate provides the best solution. Studies of human thought and behavior from throughout history have also influenced my conclusions, just as they did with the Oralists and Pro-ASL groups. I found John Locke to be one historical influence on me. John Locke, a renowned English philosopher of the seventeenth century, articulated the process of learning as the process of filling the human mind which is a tabula rosa or "clean slate" (Locke 60). Locke claimed people learned to think through experience, not inborn knowledge. He suggested a newborn had no thought until he/she experienced hot, cold, hunger, or pain via the five senses and was therefore born a "clean slate." Holding the five senses responsible for providing experience, which in turn created ideas, thoughts, and reasoning, was his evidence for the learning theory of acquired knowledge. It is from his theory that I will later discuss one conclusion I have come to about the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals. However, I will first continue on to introduce another historical theory which influenced my second conclusion.
It is the theory of the philosopher Aristotle that provides the support for my second conclusion, which is to take the middle road in this debate. Aristotle's theory of the Golden Mean refers to picking a median between excess and deficiency to achieve the best results (Aristotle 309). He described it by saying, something "'well done' is ruined by excess and deficiency and achieved by the mean" (308-09). For example, in the book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, the treatment for a child suffering from seizures bounced between her parents' desires for religious procedures and the medical professionals' requests for medicinal interventions. Both parties valued their preference and saw benefits for the child. However, in a case such as this, Aristotle's theory would suggest a combination of the two desires. Some religious procedures along with some medicinal interventions would allow for the ideal situation as the child would benefit from both treatments. Drawing on the theories of Locke and Aristotle to support my thoughts, as well as from author Barbara Schirmer, research by the Oberkotter Foundation in Speaking Volumes, and personal stories from Mark Drolsbaugh, I believe the communication method of a deaf individual should focus on individual needs and favorable compromise.
I believe the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals depends on what will best suit their needs. First of all, the sensory needs of a deaf individual suggest the most beneficial communication method is ASL as it is a visual language (Schirmer 93). According to Locke's theory, in order to acquire knowledge and thus create ideas, people must use the experiences provided them by their senses. However, in the case of deaf individuals, there is a lack of input from the hearing sense. This lack of auditory input can significantly delay thought development, as demonstrated in research by the Oberkotter Foundation which studies auditory/oral communication (Speaking Volumes I-11, I-13). The research confirms Locke's sensory and experience learning theory and that deaf individuals' primary pathway of learning is through the visual sense. Therefore, a deaf individual may need to rely on visual input to replace the loss of auditory input. ASL, a visual pathway, would be a way to ensure "writing on the slate." Consequently, Oral communication, which is dependant upon auditory and only some visual input, may not be beneficial for a deaf individual. A person devoid of auditory input using Oralism cannot utilize auditory experiences and thus cannot fill the "clean slate," as fewer experiences would be received to create ideas or thoughts. Therefore, I believe ASL can be the most beneficial communication method for the deaf individual who is dependant on visual input to acquire experiences for development.
On the other hand, I believe the environmental needs of a deaf individual should also be considered in choosing the most beneficial communication method. A deaf individual who lives, socializes, and is educated with others using ASL will benefit from ASL. Then again, a deaf individual who is in an environment providing only auditory and oral stimulation can benefit from Oralism. For example, a deaf individual living and educated in an environment with no deaf role models, peers, or associations and only having opportunities afforded for hearing children may find the Oral approach most beneficial. This would be so because most input, via language, would be received through auditory stimuli. It is known that children whose families and environments do not support their communication method fall behind significantly in academic and social aspects as noted in the research by the Oberkotter Foundation (Speaking Volumes I-17). Therefore, as the individual would be exposed to mostly auditory/oral input, the need for auditorally receptive and orally expressive communication would develop, be supported, and thus become a beneficial communication method. Meeting the environmental and sensory needs of a deaf individual, whether with Oralism or ASL, proves to be beneficial as one learns through both the senses and the experience one is exposed to in the environment.
In addition to complying with a deaf individual's needs, I also find a combination of both the Oral and ASL communication methods will be beneficial for deaf individuals. Using a combination of both Oralism and ASL will give the deaf individual the benefits of both communication methods. Applying the reasoning behind Aristotle's theory of the Golden Mean to this situation will allow a deaf individual to benefit from the social-emotional benefits of ASL and the educational benefits of Oralism. A deaf individual can develop self-esteem and practice natural tendencies using ASL, but also can gather educational achievement and ability to integrate into the hearing society by using Oralism (Schirmer 96). In fact, the combination method of Total Communication provides "beneficial effects . . . in all areas of deaf children's development, whether psychosocial, linguistic, or academic" according to researchers Vernon & Andrews (Hawkins 1). Furthermore, researchers also report deaf individuals who participate in a Bicultural-Bilingual communication method have positive cognitive advantages (Schirmer 87).
Yet another benefit of a combination of communication methods is that a deaf individual by experiencing both methods will have the opportunity to choose the communication he or she truly prefers later in life. Deaf individuals given the opportunity to experience both Oralism and ASL and the benefits of each can choose a preferred method for themselves. Again, Mark Drolsbaugh, a deaf man, was raised communicating with the Oral method and then introduced to the ASL method (Drolsbaugh 1). As he utilized both communication methods, he analyzed the benefits both brought to his life. He found he valued the integration benefits of Oralism and the social benefits of ASL. Although he continued to use Oral communication in some circumstances, Drolsbaugh finally decided on ASL as the most beneficial communication method because he valued the results it procured the most (2). Via experience provided while using a combination of communication methods Drolsbaugh made a decision on a preferred communication method. Others, especially people deciding a communication method for a deaf child, should realize the combination method can do the same for other deaf individuals. Overall, I believe the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals evolves around the individual's needs and a combination of the two methods.
Despite the overwhelming support for the benefits both Oralism and ASL can provide, the debate over the most beneficial communication method for deaf individuals still exists. A solution to this debate has been long coming, and may never come, as the choice in communication methods for deaf individuals largely revolves around the fundamental values held by each individual. Those who support Oralism generally desire more holistic, educational benefits. Those who support the ASL method of communication generally desire more individual, social-emotional benefits. A third option, combinations of these methods, is selected by some individuals and can include a mixture of the benefits of both ASL and Oralism. Whether it is ASL or Oralism, a deaf individual must ultimately use a communication method and the decision simply depends on which is found to be fundamentally beneficial.
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