Are professionals meeting the children's cultural needs?

Professionals are not meeting the cultural needs of these children. The educators of these children tend to be hearing and white females.(Lane, 1996) There is a shortage of African American interpreters.(Lane, 1996) Professionals need to become more culturally aware of both the Deaf culture and the African American culture. Both these cultures need to be incorporated in the children's curriculum. Professionals need to realize the existence of racism and how it effects the lives and educational experiences of these children.(Grace, 1993)

The cultural needs of these children are not being met because many of the professionals that work with the children are not d/Deaf and African American. This lack of role models is cause for concern.(MacNeil, 1990, Valentine, 1996, Lane, 1996) It is important that these children have d/Deaf African American professionals and adults involved in their lives. Children need to see that people like themselves have a future of opportunities and success.(Valentine, 1996) There is a need to recruit d/Deaf and ethnically diverse individuals to professional and paraprofessional in the field of d/Deaf education.(Rittenhouse, 1991, MacNeil, 1990)

Insight and Application: Deaf African American children are lacking role models and this may be partly why their is such a small number of them going on to higher education. It is so important that professionals be culturally sensitive to these children and their needs. Professionals, parents, and the children need to share ideas and cultural experiences. An appreciation of differences should be celebrated in the classroom If there is not an actual d/Deaf African American adult that can be part of the lives of these children, parents and professionals must seek and share information about d/Deaf African Americans that have made contributions to society and the lives of others. It may take going to the library, searching the internet, or asking questions of the right people. However, most importantly, d/Deaf African American children need to be encouraged to go into the fields of deafness and education, so that they may help and be role models for the next generation of d/Deaf African American children.

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. (1996). A journey into the deaf-world. San Diego, CA: Dawn Sign Press.

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

Rittenhouse, R., Johnson, C., Overton, B., Freeman, S., & Jaussi, K. (1990). The Black and deaf movements in America since 1960: Parallelism and an agenda for the future. American Annals of the Deaf, 136, 392-400.

Valentine, V. (1996). Listening to deaf Blacks; They want community access and acceptance. Emerge,7, 56(6).

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