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Inclusion and the Hearing Impaired

Key words: Information, Deafness Related Issues, Deaf Education

Submitted by: Roxanne York

Topic: Inclusion and the Hearing Impaired

Task: To find out what inclusion is, how it is being implemented, and how various people feel about it.


Beaver, D. L. & Hayes, P. L., Luetke-Stahlman, B. (1995). In-service Trends: General Education Teachers Working with Educational Interpreters. American Annals of the Deaf, 140 (1) 38-46.

Dean, M. & Nettles, J. (1987). Reverse Mainstreaming. The Volta Review, 89. 27- 33.

Manning, D. (1987). Parents and Mainstreaming. The Volta Review, 89. 119-130.

Ruenzel, D. (1996). Let s Talk. Teaching Tolerance. 20-27.

Schildroth, A. N. & Hotto, S. A. (1994). Inclusion or exclusion? Deaf Students and the inclusion movement. American Annals of the Deaf, 139. 239-243.

Waldron, M.B., Diebold, J.J. & Rose, S. (1985). Hearing Impaired Students in Regular Classrooms: A Cognitive Model for Educational Services. Exceptional Children. 39-43.

Innes, J.J., et al. (1994). Topic of Interest: Full Inclusion. American Annals of the Deaf, 139. (2) 152-169. (Various articles/authors).


What is inclusion? Inclusion is the act of including hearing impaired students in a regular education classroom. There are two forms inclusion can take. Full inclusionists want ALL children regardless of disability and severity to be in a normal classroom. To them it is a moral issue. They feel the students have a right to a regular education. The more conservatist viewpoint is that only those students with less severe disabilities should be mainstreamed. The opposition says inclusion is only one option on a broad continuum of educational placements.

Members of the Deaf community see inclusion as being against the right of the students to have a normal education by not providing Deaf role models, language, or culture. Some parents feel that if full inclusion is mandatory they will not have the full range of options for appropriate educational placements in the least restrictive environment for their children. Most parents, those with hearing children and those with deaf children, seemed happy with the integrated preschools and reverse mainstreaming setting because the all the children learned both sign and English. Many schools now have these mixed classrooms settings where deaf children aren't isolated and hearing children learn about disabilities. What happens when the child is the only deaf student in his/her school?

The debate: Supporters of inclusion say that it gives deaf students a chance to socialize with their hearing peers from their neighborhood thus reducing their isolation. Research studies show that when deaf students are mainstreamed they have little or no interaction with the hearing students. Due to the language barrier for the severely hearing impaired they may become even more isolated than when they were with a group of hearing impaired kids. Other problems with the mainstream setting are the disability stigma that deaf people are also dumb, and with classroom instruction itself. Interpreter lag time, pace of the lecture, the number of speakers involved, and the language/culture differences all contribute to poor communication. Some included students are seen as getting special treatment.

Special educators and some teacher organizations such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) cite time and resource problems for full inclusion. Some of their questions include: Will the students be placed with their age mates or in a classroom with students reading at the same reading/developmental level? How will we accommodate for math instruction when they have poor reading skills? Which communication mode will be used by the interpreters? What will we do with the kids with multiple handicaps? Will special educators have jobs? Will they be more than glorified interpreters? How will the mainstreamed kids adapt to the more cooperative learning environment where the teacher isn t the only one talking? Can they learn to repair communication breakdowns? One group, Action for Children to Ensure Options Now (ACTION) formed to oppose full inclusion efforts to limit available educational options.

Regular educators seem willing to have hearing impaired kids in their classes, however, most feel unprepared to help the student or give needed individual attention due to their large class size. They feel that they don't know enough about disabilities, but work to make mainstreaming a success when given adequate training and support. Some of their concerns included: They wanted to know more about the role and responsibilities of educational interpreters. Some felt uneasy disciplining in front of the interpreters, were unfamiliar with the environmental needs of the student (i.e. lighting, seating). Others felt they needed more communication with the multi-disciplinary team especially the special ed teachers, and information on the IEP process. The major concern is that these teachers are not trained with a four year degree in dealing with disabilities like special education teachers are.


1. How can we best meet the needs of all involved? (student/parent/teacher/school bd etc.)

2. How can we determine which placement is best for a student?

3. What will happen to special education jobs/ the child's options if inclusion is mandated?

4. How can we ensure student success in a regular ed classroom if they don't get along with the regular ed teacher?


I feel that inclusion is a good idea for some students, but not for everyone. Students with more severe problems may only become more frustrated and/or isolated if put in a classroom where they can't keep up. The inclusion ideal is not always reality. Deaf children must overcome the language barrier before they can proceed with academic development. I feel that we should not limit students' placement options because the regular education classroom may not be the least restricted environment for ALL children.

Other References:

Cassie, R. & Wilson, E. (1995). Communicative breakdown management during cooperative learning activities by mainstreamed students with hearing loss. The Volta Review, 97. 105 - 121.

Johnson, H. & Griffith, P. (1985). The behavioral structure of an 8th grade science class: A mainstreaming preparation strategy. The Volta Review, 87. 291 - 301.

OEA Affiliate Services Division. (1993). Inclusion: What you need to know. Ohio Schools. 14 - 27.

Saur, R. E., Layne, C.A., Hurley, E. A., & Opton, K. (1986). Dimensions of Mainstreaming. American Annals of the Deaf, 131. 325 - 330.

EDUDEAF listserv comments on the topic of inclusion.

Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major