Friday, July 09, 2004

Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Inclusion

Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Inclusion. This essay has a radical idea. Let's educate deaf children in the smae classes as hearing children. I am sure this can work sometimes.

From the site:

The "inclusion" of students who are deaf refers to their being educated within a classroom of students with normal hearing. Inclusion differs from "mainstreaming" in that mainstreaming may refer to a variety of degrees of contact with hearing students, whereas in inclusion, the student who is deaf is actually placed in a classroom with hearing students. Inclusion may involve an assortment of services including interpreters, notetakers, teacher aides, teachers of students who are deaf, and consultants, but these services are provided within the context of the regular classroom.

Before 1975, although there had been attempts to educate students who were deaf in regular schools, about 80% of students who were deaf in the United States were being served in special schools (Cohen, 1995). This changed with the passage that year of PL 94-142. The "Education of All Handicapped Children" act called for all children to be educated as appropriate in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE), which meant to the greatest extent possible with their "non-handicapped" peers. Although the law resulted in some students who were deaf being educated in the regular classroom, many students with hearing losses were put in self-contained classrooms or resource rooms within regular schools and had contact with hearing students only during non- academic activities. In 1995, more than 60% of students who were deaf were educated in the regular public schools (Cohen, 1995), although it is not clear how many were in being served in a true "inclusion" model.

Inclusion emerged from the Regular Education Initiative (REI) of the 1970s and 1980s and the modification of PL 94-142, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990. The application of inclusion to the student who is deaf has been a source of ongoing debate, particularly as to how to interpret "least restrictive environment."

Two general positions have emerged from the debate on inclusion. One position is that all students with disabilities have the right to go to school with their non-disabled peers. The other position is usually labeled "full inclusion" and is stronger in its position that all students with disabilities should go to regular schools. The first position is consistent with the range of placements which emerged from PL 94-142 and IDEA, while the latter position is generally consistent with the eradication of all "special education," including the closing of special schools for students who are deaf.

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