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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

"Making life better!"


Students with hearing impairments” is a phrase that covers a wide range of  grade levels. There are different ways to work with students in the K-12 level, as opposed to college students, with hearing impairments.  A few recommendations are given below.

Early childhood and elementary - children who are deaf or hearing impaired learn more when both American Sign Language (ASL) and English are used in the classroom. We would find it unacceptable for a hearing child to be in a classroom where no one spoke to them, no one could understand what the child was saying and no one tried to teach the child to speak. It is equally unacceptable for a deaf child. The younger students should grasp ASL and English at an early age so its easier for them in the future.  This seems self-evident, but we have seen some very sad cases of children placed in regular classrooms with only a few hours a week of interpreter services or instruction in ASL. The parents were given the explanation that interpreters are very expensive and rural communities cannot afford a lot of extra services. As you will learn in the section in this workshop on legal rights, such an explanation is not acceptable.

High school, college and adulthood - Students with hearing impairments have a higher rate of school failure and college drop out than students without hearing impairments. Because they do not learn as much through language - overhearing conversations, TV news and other sources of 'learning by accident', students who are hearing impaired tend to have less knowledge of current events, both in their own community and the world. Discussions of social, cultural and political issues in the classroom are recommended to give the deaf student an opportunity to interact with other students while keeping in touch with the world around them.

Deciding what they want to do in life is difficult for all adolescents and young adults. They need to become more independent, develop relationships away from home, choose a college major and a career. Identity issues loom large for young people with hearing impairments as they need to accomplish all of these tasks of becoming an adult while overcoming the obstacle a hearing impairment presents to communication, academic achievement and employment.

Improving education for students with hearing impairments is covered in greater detail in our Special Education workshop, while employment for people with hearing impairments is discussed in the Caring for Our People workshop for vocational rehabilitation staff.

Next page, communication and language disorders

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
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