The goals of my study were to obtain definitions of social isolation as understood by two deaf or hard-of-hearing high school age boys in the mainstream setting. Would the same boys classify themselves as socially isolated in their current educational placement as some of the literature I reviewed suggests they would?


The participants were two deaf students currently enrolled in a local public high school in a southeastern region. Participant "A" is a 16 year old male, adopted from Nigeria, India at approximately four years of age. He attended a private Christian school from kindergarten until his freshman year of high school, when he transferred to his current placement. He is now in10th grade. He is mainstreamed for three of his four classes. These include Algebra, English and Computers. His audiogram shows a mild to severe hearing loss in the medium to high frequencies. He uses hearing aids in both ears and prefers oral communication. His parents both have normal hearing and he is the youngest of four children, all of whom are hearing. Participant "B" is a 19 year old African American male. He exhibits a pre-lingual, profound hearing loss in both ears and does not receive benefits from wearing hearing aids. He prefers to communicate using American Sign Language or a form of Pigeon Signed English. His parents have normal hearing, as well as his 6 brothers and sisters. Participant "B" spent his early years at a residential school for the deaf, he transferred during his middle school years. His educational track is an independent living curriculum. The focus is on money management, responsible work habits, appropriate public behaviors, and various household skills. He is mainstreamed for two classes, wood shop and Physical Education. He works in the school cafeteria (with pay) each day to gain responsible working habits. The remainder of his day is spent on various community awareness activities, as well as reading and writing skills. A Hearing Specialist who works in the local high school selected the participants. I am a white female second year graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Special Education with a concentration in educating students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

MaterialsOne-time interviews will took place at the students' educational placement, unless otherwise requested by the parents. A digital video camera and tripod were used to record each interview, allowing for a more accurate interpretation later. Indepth, open-ended questions were developed in order to learn about the mainstream experiences of two deaf participants.

In conducting the interviews, I used a discussion format in which I began by asking neutral, student-centered questions. This was intended to help the students to become comfortable with the interviewing process and with me. The conversation began with the following questions:

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

2. Do you have any pets? Hobbies? Tell me about them...

3. Could you talk about fun things you do?

I directed the conversation away from personal matters to focus more on the student's educational experiences. Again, I used open - ended questions that were intended to elicit student responses about his school experiences. Again I used the phrase "Tell me about your...(friends, school, favorite sports, etc)." To accomplish this, in phrasing my question, I was prepared to follow the student's lead, with the focus on school-related experiences. The interviewer should be perceptive, taking note of positive/negative feedback and asking the student to reflect on the issue. This was done by asking, "How did that make you feel?" The following questions are included to aid the me should the participant have short or off-topic comments.

1. What time of the day is most enjoyable for you? What are you doing?

2. When is your most enjoyable time of the school day? What are you doing?

3. What does you school schedule look like. What do you think about that?

4. Tell me about the sports program here. Are you involved?

    1. What do you do at recess?
The first few questions should build rapport. Thereafter, allowing the student to elaborate according to his/her own interest, while the interviewer should be prepared to re-focus if necessary. The final six questions are to assist the interviewer in re-directing the conversation.

ProceduresThe cooperating teacher was informed about the study and its goals. The teacher granted permission to conduct the study, which is part of the internship requirements. Letters of consent were sent to the participants' parents to be reviewed and signed. The students signed letters of assent. (See appendix) Interviews with the students were scheduled for an allocated time. The interviews were approximately 30 - 45 minutes and took place on-site. An additional 5 minutes was scheduled at the beginning of the interview, allowing time to set up the video camera.

Participant "A" was interviewed for approximately 65 minutes, starting at 2:15 p.m. and ending at 3:20 p.m. The interview took place in the classroom in the presence of the Hearing Specialist and a former intern. Before we began the interview, I explained the Form of Assent to him, and allowed him time to read and decide whether to sign it. The participant and I conversed orally, facing each other, sitting in traditional style school desks. Participant "A" consistently wears two hearing aids; however, both were left at home on that particular day. Despite this, we communicated effectively.

Participant "B" was interviewed for 55 minutes on a Friday beginning around 10: 15 a.m. and ending at 11:10. Again, I allocated several minutes for video camera preparations. The interview took place in the LRE meeting room. The participant and I sat at a large round table facing each other, while the educational interpreter stood nearby voicing. Before we began the interview I explained the Assent form to him, and allowed him time to read and decide whether to sign it. We communicated effectively using American Sign Language, his preferred mode of communication.

In conducting the research, I used the students' preferred mode of communication. I facilitated communication during these by utilizing skills I had acquired after completing ASL I - ASL IV, earning a certificate in an intensive eight week Basic Interpreter Training Program (BITP) (1996) from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and during three years of full-time employment at the Tennessee School for the Deaf as a cottage parent in a high school cottage.

After the interview, I reflected about the interview process, noting my impressions, any student nonverbal patterns, the student responses, and any patterns in the responses. I organized these data and looked for emerging themes to categorize. To ensure that I understood the students, an educational interpreter assisted me by voice interpreting the interview.

In an attempt to bracket my own biases related to social isolation and deaf and hard-of-hearing students, I formed a list of my assumptions related to the positive and negative effects of mainstreaming for deaf students. A deaf adult, naive to the research question, reviewed the biases listed and the findings to ensure the credibility and authenticity of my data analysis.

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