Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Public Schools
By Meagan McDonough
Being a future public school teacher, I may have the wonderful
opportunity to have deaf students in my classroom. I thought that by
researching the experiences of deaf and hard of hearing children in
public schools, it could help me to better cope if and when I come
across a deaf student.
It seems that going into a public school can be very nerve racking
for deaf students, and understandably so. To deaf children "Public
schools are mysterious places structured by rules that are learned
best after breaking them. I never wanted to break school rules, but
at the same time, I was never good at figuring them out" (Ramsey). I
would hope that interpreters would help to remedy this situation,
but it does not seem that this is always the case.
There are two methods of dealing with educating deaf students in
public schools. Mainstreaming, the first method, is a situation
where the children are placed in regular classrooms and go to some
special education classes/resource classes taught by more qualified
and specially trained people. "In the mainstreaming classroom they
were defined as children who merely needed their civil right to
educational access ensured but in the self-contained classroom, they
were regarded as children who needed specific kind of teaching
because they were deaf" (Ramsey). Inclusion, also known as the
center based approach, may involve an assortment of services
including interpreters, note takers, teacher aides, teachers of
students who are deaf, and consultants, but these services are
provided within the context of the regular classroom.
Center-based/inclusion programs function like a regional educational
program for the deaf, bringing together deaf students from all over
a geographical area. This creates an opportunity to have some allies
that are in similar situations and understand the troubles they are
facing. To save money, instead of offering specialized services at
neighborhood schools, school districts provide these services at
selected schools and bus the children to those schools (Berke).
It seems to me that inclusion is the better method for educating
deaf children in public schools because instructions, subjects, and
communication is clearer and less confusing for teachers and the
child’s fellow students. "In a dual environment, social integration
comes into play. Children that are not a part of the classroom for a
significant portion of the day have difficulty becoming integrated
with their peers" (Deaf Education...). Research suggests, however,
that public school may not always be the best environment for
educating deaf children. "Deaf children are as diverse as any other
group of children. Their different individual needs suggest that
they will be best served by a variety of settings, including the
opportunity to attend inclusive schools when appropriate. But the
full-inclusion, one-size-fits-all approach, even with its promises
of support services, is naive at best and irreparably harmful at
worst" (Deaf Education). Although public schools might not be the
ideal circumstances, the children I am likely to stumble upon in my
professional career will have already been placed in this setting,
and all teachers should prepare themselves for the challenges they
will meet when having a deaf student in their classroom.
Berke, Jamie. "Mainstreaming and Center Programs: District-Wide
Education of the Deaf." About.com:Deafness. 2 Dec. 2007. The New
York Times Company. 27 Nov. 2008 http://deafness.about.com/cs/mainstreamcenter/a/mcenter.htm.
Cohen, Oscar. "Deaf persons and experts speak out against
Inclusion." Deaf Info--Everything You Wanted to Know About Deafness.
20 Apr. 1994. 9 Nov. 2008 http://www.zak.co.il/d/deaf-info/old/inclusion.
"Deaf Education Options Guide." Deaf Linx.com. 1998. 9 Nov. 2008
Ramsey, Claire L. "Deaf Children in Public Schools." Google Book
Search. 9 Nov. 2008 .
Also see: "The Debate on
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