Children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HoH) experience unique challenges in public school settings. They often face academic and social obstacles that their normal hearing peers do not encounter. D/HoH adolescents especially tend to have less positive notions about themselves. Often they feel isolation and alienation from peers in inclusive classrooms because of the language barrier. Due to this, social interactions that could foster feelings of belonging and friendship with hearing peers are limited.
During adolescent, children tend to shift their allegiance from their family to their peers. Peers provide them with social support and validate their self-worth. The D/HoH student who ...view middle of the document...
Many of these schools were residential and allowed students to establish a community based on shared experiences and values. The predominated use of ASL throughout these schools created a deaf culture. D/HoH students were able to create positive self-images by being a member of this culture
In 1975, Congress passed the Education of all Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142), known now as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (“NCLB and IDEA, “ n.d.). IDEA states that all students with disabilities up to the age of 21 must be provided with free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment and with accommodations. The advent of IDEA permitted many students who were D/HoH to attend their neighborhood school, rather than being sent to the state’s residence school for the deaf (Seaver & DesGeorges, 2004). Before this, public schools were not obligated to accept students with disabilities if they were deemed “too difficult to educate” (Seaver & DesGeorges, 2004). School districts were unprepared for the challenges that came with providing adequate education for D/HoH students. The decision for parents to send their D/HoH children to a deaf school or mainstream them into public schools is a difficult choice.
Inclusive vs. Mainstream Education
According to Harris and Vanzandt (1997), residential education has become less popular with parents and educators due to economic, legal, and social changes in the United States. Many D/HoH children now attend public schools, but studies have shown that it is advantageous for these children to attend deaf schools. The benefit of a deaf education is evident in that it can be tailored to suit the particular needs of D/HoH students. According to National Association of the Deaf (NAD, n.d.), deaf schools provide students with a quality education while fostering its culture, heritage, and its common language. Language development is essential for learning. The first language D/HoH children typically acquire is ASL (NAD, n.d.). The use of ASL provides deaf children with a solid language base that contributes to both educational and occupational success (NAD, n.d.). Deaf schools can provide educational and future occupational benefits but also allows deaf students to develop social and emotional skills that are crucial for developing a positive self-identity.
Contrarily, deaf students mainstreamed in public schools often experience feelings of insecurity and loneliness, social rejection, and low self-esteem (Gent et al., 2012). Although it has been noted that inclusion is a way for people with hearing loss to equalize power relationships and challenge societal rejection (Israelite, 2001). Some also believe that integration allows D/HoH students to identify with their hearing peers and to embrace the social and cultural environment of the hearing community (Israelite, 2001). According to research done by Stinson and Liu (1999), interactions between D/HoH...