How are these children labeled or identified in school?
There is a mislabeling of d/Deaf African American children. These children are sometimes labeled emotionally disturbed.(Lane, 1988) In many inner city schools, where there is a high number of ethnic minority students, who are hearing, there is also a high number of these children mislabeled, emotionally disturbed.(Lane, 1988) The d/Deaf African American child that has the least amount of English skills, was also more likely to be labeled emotionally disturbed.(Lane, 1992)
Many of the d/Deaf African children are mainstreamed into a Hearing Impaired program in an urban setting.(MacNeil, 1990) They tend to be placed in lower level curriculums then the d/Deaf White children.(Cohen, Fischgrund, & Redding, 1990) Some of these children are placed in classes that are for retarded children or classes for disabled children.(MacNeil, 1990) Psychologist and professionals that assess these children, tend not to have a background knowledge of deafness or the child's ethnic culture.(MacNeil, 1990)
Fortunately, many African American parents are aware of the large number of African American students and other ethnically diverse students that are placed in special education programs.(Harry, 1992) However, it may be this knowledge that parents lack a trust and relationship with educators and school personnel, that is much needed for the sake of the child.(Harry, 1992, Grace, 1993)
Insight and Application: It is unfortunate that some children who are Deaf and African American have been part of an American school system that does not take the time to assess a child's strengths and weaknesses. Too often African American children whether hearing or D/deaf are mislabeled and misplaced in special education programs.
As parents and professionals of Deaf African American children, there has to be knowledge of assessment and placement procedures. Children's rights and needs must come first. Being misplaced in classrooms that do not meet their individual needs can leave lifelong effects on the children's lives. It is also important that parents know their rights and the rights of their child.
Cohen, O., Fischgrund, J., & Redding, R. (1990). Deaf children from ethnic, linguistic and racial minority backgrounds: An overview. American Annals of the Deaf, 135, 67-73.
Grace, C. (1993). A model program for home-school communication and staff development. In Christensen, K., & Delgado, G. (Eds.) Multicultural issues in deafness. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishing Group.
Lane, H., Hoffmeister, R., & Bahan, B. (1992). A journey into the deaf -world. San Diego, CA: Dawn Sign Press.
Lane, H. (1988). The mask of benevolence. New York: Random House, Inc.
Harry, B. (1992). Cultural diversity, families, and the special education system: Communication and empowerment. New York, NY: Teachers College.
MacNeil, B. (1990). Educational needs for multicultural hearing- impaired students in the public school system. American Annals of the Deaf,135, 75-82.