January 30, 2011

Socialization Issues of Mainstreamed Deaf & HOH Students

During my two years as an itinerant teacher servicing deaf and hard of hearing students I have come across some issues with mainstreaming that concerns me. It is important for me to note that this is based on a public school district in a rural area. All public school districts have different ways of mainstreaming D/HH students. Some are better than others.

One issue has to do with socialization and self esteem. Where I currently work, there are not many deaf and hard of hearing students at each school. They are scattered about, often being the only deaf or hard of hearing student in the entire school. For many of them, I am the only hard of hearing person (other than their grandparents) that they have met so far in their young lives. That is astonishing. Imagine what it must be like to be the only student with a certain trait in the entire school. How are they supposed to develop healthy sense of selves or self esteems knowing that there is no one else, other than me, that they can relate to or share their feelings with in terms of having a hearing loss? When I was mainstreamed, I knew at least ten other students, if not more, who used hearing aids and FM systems like I did. I knew that I was not the only one. I was involved with a really good deaf and hard of hearing program where they regularly brought in deaf and hard of hearing visitors of all ages. So, I had exposure to different deaf and hard of hearing people, including others who were the same age as me. It makes a big difference to be surrounded by others like you. When I attended private school during my middle and high school years, I did not realize it at the time that I missed the social interaction with others like me.

I hope that we can work together to figure out ways to deal with these issues.



  1. Thanks for bringing this into focus. It brought back memories of when I was mainstreamed in grades 2 through 6 at a time when interpreters did not exist.

    Mainstreaming is a goal and a dream of hearing people, not deaf people or deaf children. Children, being accommodating beings, don't know what they miss until they become older and learn about alternatives.

  2. I am not sure how many kids will let teachers know they missed out litttle details. I was in public school and some details bore me. Some people describe things and I could see it myself and didn't need my hearing to understand except during the middle of all their talking, I probably missed something important .Im not sure I would not use the color card ( I probably would not know what I am missing anyway) out of fear of long detailed explanation (which I probably knew anyway) unless I am completely lost. Some kids rather do that instead of "what?" All the time. Bluffing in classroom.

  3. I have issues with the mainstreaming kids, too... so many stories I have heard but not enough to prove to anyone.. there has to be a way to protect these children...

  4. Thanks for bringing up these issues. This is why itinerant teachers and parents need to advocate for the child when the child is too young to do so themselves. Like Diane said, many kids don't know what they are missing because they haven't had a chance to see what else is out there for them. That's why the IEP team should be a team FOR the child and not a team for the school to keep a child in a placement that is not appropriate. The school has a responsibility to hire highly qualified teachers and support staff which includes interpreters. If the school doesn't have anyone qualified to identify interpreter skills, they need to find a source that will qualify an interpreter before they hire them. Parents don't have the chance to observe the child daily in school. Most of the time, they only see the behavior of the child after school. Teachers need to have their eyes open and be advocates for their students who aren't ready to advocate for themselves. Teachers and parents need to communicate with each other.

  5. Anonymous said, "Teachers and parents need to communicate with each other".

    Agreed. This would be a great start! I would also like more teachers to communicate with me more often.

    Some teachers and I are currently trying to find ways of communicating with some parents who never return our phone calls and letters or respond to our queries. It is upsetting when we bring these issues up with the parents and they don't seem too concerned or want to work with us.

  6. "The school has a responsibility to hire highly qualified teachers and support staff which includes interpreters."

    Easier said than done when you are in a very rural area with limited resources and people.

  7. I'm a total fan of mainstream it has to be said. We can't play at education as a sop to some language or culture, we have to equip deaf children for a hearing world, none will ever make a living in a deaf one. Deaf schools made it impossible for most deaf children to ever move outside their non-inclusive world. Great social lives but nil educationally.

    Inter-acting with hearing would close that isolation gap too, it's just nor realistic to put all deaf children in one place. Let's be fair after school they do as they want. You can't force parents to move their kids to deaf-only areas (Where are they anyway ?), we have to be realistic.

    The first interaction many deaf children had with hearing was when they finished school, so totally unprepared, had huge problems in communication and even more trying to get work. Mainstream is STILL a fairly new concept (Here anyway), so needs time to work properly, it has to undo 50 years of educational stagnation with deaf people, and adapt to issues deaf NEVER Faced before, like CI's etc.....

    Deaf for life perhaps, but working with HEARING for life too, we must equip the deaf child with those skills. It's not perfect by any means mainstream, but we need to hold our nerve and not retreat to the bad old ways of doing things. Unless a deaf child is hugely bi-lingual, it will endure nothing but angst and isolation and depdency on others.

  8. What Did You Say?

    Huh? Hmm? Eh? What?
    Give that another shot.
    What was that?
    I missed that.
    Repeat that.
    I didn’t get that.
    I beg your pardon, say that again.
    I’m sorry, run that by me again.
    Speak louder, speak slower.
    Excuse me? Pardon me?
    I couldn’t hear you,
    I can’t hear you.
    I didn’t hear you,
    I don’t understand you.

    By Rebecca Orton

  9. Very interesting reading here. Did you know that in Norway, there are four schools for deaf children? Now the gov want to shut down three of these schools and keep only one staying open, and go heavily into mainstreaming deaf children in "hearing" schools. This was surprisingly announced feb 1st, the deaf community in Norway is roaring about this issue, lots of posts everywhere, blogs, facebook group, website where all newspaper clippings are collected...

    i was lucky to never be mainstreamed, my deaf school was minutes away from my house, and i grew up with both deaf and hearing friends. if i got mainstreamed, i would never develop such good language skills i got today, i would be a social drop-out.. nuff said :)


Keep it civil.