2. Who are "Hispanics" and what are their general characteristics?

Definition (MacNeil, 1990)

Geographic Locations in the U.S. (Gerner de Garcia, 1993)

General Characteristics (MacNeil, 1990)
-ethnically diverse          -undereducated and underemployed
-recently migrated -lower social-economic status
-limited in English proficiency -larger families and higher birth rates
-young -many single female-headed households

Other typical characteristics: (Harry, 1992)
-strong commitment to native language: symbol of cultural heritage and solidarity
-world-view based on Catholic ideology
-centrality of the concept of family

Contrasting Beliefs, Values, and Practices (Lynch & Hanson, 1992)
Hispanic Culture:                     Mainstream Culture:
-collective orientation-individual orientation
-collective, group identity-individual identity
-saving face-being direct
-relaxed with time-time sensitive
-emphasis on interpersonal relations-emphasis on task orientation
-spiritual/magical belief orientation-rational/empirical orientation
tendency toward more patriarchal family structure-tendency toward more democratic family structure
-more relaxed with child development-strong expectations for child development
-more overt respect for the elderly-less value/respect toward the elderly
-extended family systems more pronounced -nuclear family systems more pronounced

Application of Information

It is important to look at the Hispanic population in general because these characteristics, and the barriers they inevitably create, are often paralleled among d/Deaf Hispanics. As stated by Oscar P. Cohen (1993), "deafness makes one no less a member of a racial, linguistic, or ethnic group". Thus, the lives of these individuals will be impacted "not only because they are deaf, but even more so because they are members of underrepresented ethnic groups" (Cohen, 1993). The prevalent philosophy in special education views deafness as a minority status that precludes all other cultural aspects of a child. However, we must remember that deafness does not automatically negate one’s ethnic or racial status. Issues related to cultural values, beliefs, and practices within a family will also apply to these students.


Cohen, O. (1993). Educational needs of African American and Hispanic deaf children and youth. In Christensen, K.M., & Delgado, G.L. (Eds.), Multicultural issues in deafness. New York: Longman Publishing.

Gerner de Garcia, B. (1993). Addressing the needs of Hispanic deaf children. In Christensen, K.M., & Delgado, G.L. (Eds.), Multicultural issues in deafness. New York: Longman Publishing.

Harry, B. (1992). Cultural diversity, families, and special education system: Communication and empowerment. New York: Teachers College.

Lynch & Hanson (1992). Developing cross cultural competence. Baltimore: Paul Brookes, Inc.

MacNeil, B. (1990). Educational needs for multicultural hearing-impaired students in the public school system. American Annals of the Deaf, 135 (2), 75-82.