The Debate on Mainstreaming
For many parents of
young children deciding where to send them to school is a difficult
process. For most children this can be decided by their location or
their parents' religious affiliation. For parents of a Deaf child
the decision of which school to send their child to becomes even
more of a challenge. Deaf children have two main choices for
schooling. They can attend regular or special education classes in a
public school with the aid of an interpreter or they can attend
specialized Deaf schools with other Deaf students and teachers who
are fluent in sign language. There are arguments for and against
both of these educational experiences.
Many advocates of
placing Deaf children in public schools (or mainstreaming) believe
that putting them in Deaf schools is limiting. They argue that it is
best for Deaf children to be exposed to Hearing children at an early
age so they can hone their lip reading, and oral speech skills.
These skills are ones they can use to communicate with ease in a
world that is predominantly made up of Hearing people.
In public schools
certain accommodations are required to be made for Deaf children.
Most Deaf children will have an interpreter with them at all times
to translate what is being said by the teacher and other students.
Deaf students are often enrolled in special education classes if
they are in a public school. These classes are usually used to
assist the Deaf children with the learning delay they often
experience in speech, reading, and language comprehension. Advocates
of a public school education may point out that being with a diverse
group of students, most of which are hearing, will simulate the
conditions that these children will face in recreational and
professional situations later on in life. It will teach them to
advocate for their needs in many situations as well as allowing them
to adjust to oral communication.
For advocates of Deaf
children attending Deaf schools the main argument involves Deaf
Culture. Deaf culture is a very involved and colorful culture with a
rich history, just like any other subgroup of society. Not all
people who are Deaf are involved with Deaf culture. In general to be
considered a full part of the Deaf culture you must not only be Deaf
or hard of hearing but you must attend a Deaf school and use sign
language as your primary means of communication. Therefore, people
who are involved in Deaf culture may see sending their children to a
Deaf school as an issue of Deaf Pride. It allows them to learn in an
environment that uses the historical language they are used to, and
exposes them to other students who are living under the same
conditions they are. For many people who would advocate for this
type of schooling deafness is not considered a disability but
instead it is an attribute of that particular person's character.
One of the arguments advocates
of Deaf schools have against having public schooling is the
isolation Deaf students may feel. These students are often enrolled
in special education classes alone or along with regular education.
There have been some complaints of students in these classes feeling
isolated and ignored. Special education classes often include
students with a wide variety of needs and severity of these needs.
If the Deaf child is cognitively proficient than their needs as a
student may be pushed aside in a classroom full of students whose
cognitive proficiency is much lower. Advocates of a public school
education may point out that being with a diverse group of students,
most of which are Hearing, will simulate the conditions that these
children will face in recreational and professional situations later
on in life. It will teach them to advocate for their needs in many
situations as well as allowing them to adjust to oral communication.
The argument often comes down to
a family's individual background and preferences. Often the families
who advocate for public schooling are families that have at least
one Hearing parent. Their interest in mainstreaming could be due to
the Hearing parent's experience in Hearing culture. Similarly, the
preference to send a child to a Deaf school is generally by families
in which one or more of the parents or other children are Deaf.
These families are more likely to be participants in Deaf Culture,
which is one of the main reasons families advocate for a Deaf
education. Neither option is flawless and the option better suited
for the individual child depends almost exclusively on their
individual needs and their family's background with deafness.
1) Friend, Marilyn. (2011) Special
Education, Contemporary Perspectives for School Professionals,
Third Edition. Boston, MA, Pearson, Allyn and Bacon.
2) Davis, Maia. "Dilemmas of the Deaf : School
Choices Complex for the Hearing-Impaired." Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles Times, 23 May 1994. Web. 06 Apr. 2012. <http://articles.latimes.com/1994-05-23/local/me-61234_1_deaf-child/2>.
3) "Deaf & HOH Students: To Mainstream Or Not |
The Hearing Aid Teacher." The Hearing Aid Teacher. Web. 06
Apr. 2012. <http://www.ehwhathuh.com/2011/02/deaf-hoh-students-to-mainstream-or-not.html>.
4) Lehmann, Brian. "Chapter 11: Students With Deafness and Hearing Loss."
Education 230: Exceptional Learner. Iowa, Mount Vernon. 10 Nov.
Sample citation for this
A. (2012, April 05). The debate on mainstreaming. ASL
University: Lifeprint Library. Retrieved from http://lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/mainstreaming02.htm
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