Why is it important to have teachers of the deaf from diverse culture and language backgrounds?

  • Currently, 49% of deaf and hard of hearing children are from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds and this number is increasing each year.

St. Paul Public Schools
  • The percentage of teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students from diverse backgrounds is much lower :
    • 87% are White
    • 13% are diverse : 7% African American, 3% Latino, 2% Asian American (1% other)
    • 89% are hearing, 4% hard of hearing, 7 % deaf
    • 92% are female
  • Diversity in the teaching force is important for many reasons including:
    • Deaf and hard of hearing children (and their parents) need to have adult role models, especially deaf adults, to enable them to imagine a future with possibility and potential.
    • Diverse teachers have a positive impact on the achievement of diverse students. They bring new perspectives, experiences, and skills to the classroom.
    • Diverse teachers have often lived the experience of “being different” and, therefore, are more accepting of diverse students and their cultures.
    • Deaf and hard of hearing children in classrooms with diverse teachers often feel more comfortable, are more likely to approach a teacher for help and support, and may feel more motivated to succeed.
    • Diverse teachers who are involved in the communities where their students live, can be important bridges between home and school. Such teachers may also be more likely to understand and intervene when a student experiences problems.
    • A critical mass of diverse teachers creates a positive and dynamic environment that models valuing diversity and attracts a more diverse workforce.
    • Majority teachers need diverse colleagues. Teachers learn a great deal from collaborating with their colleagues, particularly when they are open to learning new perspectives. For example, research shows that hearing teachers who work in residential schools with deaf adults learn literacy strategies commonly used by deaf adults with deaf children. Hearing teachers in schools without deaf teachers were found to rarely use these strategies.
  • Diverse teachers have specialized knowledge of cognitive and learning styles. Teachers who use this knowledge to reduce the incongruence between teaching and learning styles create better outcomes for students.

  • Diverse teachers bring native fluency in other languages. Given the multi-lingual nature of many schools, the presence of bilingual staff may improve student outcomes.

Want more information about becoming a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing? Contact Deaf Education Career Resources.