Support For Deaf Students

Posted by Elizabeth McDuffie

Support in the Mainstream Classroom; What Deaf Students Think

With the rise of the inclusion model to accommodate disabled students, little attention has been focused on how the students themselves feel about the support they receive. In some scenarios, students have trouble accessing the curriculum, in others students feel over supported by staff. By reviewing what the students feel about the support they receive, we as educators can get a better idea of what support is found to be useful and that which is not.

Question: To raise awareness in the school community or not?

Some deaf pupils agreed that it was beneficial for hearing students to be aware of deafness. Many others however, felt they would be stigmatized and isolated after such a lesson or discussion. One of the main causes for concern was that hearing students would talk about them so they couldn’t hear by not moving their mouths when they spoke.

Answer: Raising awareness for the deaf community needs to be done with care and sensitivity. Within a mainstream school, it is done best when the deaf students are involved in the decision making process and planning the content of the lessons to be presented.

Question: Pull Out; Should deaf students be instructed in separate contexts?

Many students felt that is was very helpful to have a teacher of the deaf instruct for part of the day either as an itinerary teacher or in school academic support. The teachers of the deaf were identified as being easier to communicate with about both academics and emotional needs. The benefits are that the teacher or the deaf can tutor the students in their mainstream classes to make the content more comprehensible in an acoustically appropriate environment.

Answer: If possible, yes.

Question: What makes a good mainstream teacher to a deaf student?

Answer: Many tactics that help deaf students are practices that all good teachers do anyhow. Some of these include: Speaking clearly, not talking too loud, repeating what’s been said, facing the students, using visual supports, keeping the noise level in the class to a minimum, including all students in activities, and checking for comprehension.

Not very good mainstream teachers will constantly look directly at the deaf student while speaking, and call attention to the student by singling them out.

Question: What about in-class support by an interpreter or aid?

In this case, deaf students liked to have an interpreter when they were stuck or needed extra support understanding the teacher. The majority of responses were however that the interpreter was like another teacher and would over support the student by prodding, constant checking and correcting of work, and talking too much.

Answer: The interpreter or aids job is not to re-teach the lesson or correct work but to make the teacher’s lesson more comprehensible. The interpreter must be aware that making mistakes is part of the learning process as is pausing to think and anything beyond interpreting is seen as a nuisance.

Question: How Important is Peer Support?

Answer Very important! Both hearing and deaf students agreed that they could help each other out in different subjects. Many deaf students reported that hearing friends were important because they exposed them to new things and deaf student were important because they shared a commonality.

Most of all it is important to keep communication open in you school about these and other issues involving mainstreaming special education students. Both students and faculty need be involved in deciding what support is helpful and what support is not. I hope you find this segment useful and applicable to your instruction.

J. Jarvis 2003.//'Its more peaceful without any support’: what deaf pupils think about the support they receive in mainstream schools. //Support for Learning Vol. 18 Number 4