Early Intervention Collaboration-Deaf Role Models

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the impact of Deaf Role Models on Early Intervention Programs. The study reveals benefits to Early Intervention Programs if they were to have a Deaf Role Models. The final analysis of this study finds that Early Intervention Programs that do have Deaf Role Models realize the value of consulting and collaborating with these individuals.

Introduction

Communication is a foundation to build language upon. Without basic communication skills language is often delayed. This is an infamous argument in deaf education today, how so many deaf and hard of hearing children are language delayed. Two significant factors that contribute to this include: (1) hearing parents often do not know how to begin communicating with their deaf or hard of hearing child and so they avoid it or deny their child might need some other sort of communication system than what the parents are accustomed to and, (2) parents are not aware of how to make their child's world more visual or accessible and until they meet someone who is knowledgeable of such things like a Deaf Role Model or a teacher of the deaf. Precious time for building communication and eventually language may slip by hearing parents if they remain in a grief cycle over their child's deafness or hearing loss.

When hearing parents discover that their child is deaf, it brings to the forefront new and unexpected challenges that mainly include how best to communicate with their child and what type of educational setting is the best fit for their child's method of communication (sign language, speaking or both). Yet depending on their background, many deaf parents already seem to know how to communicate with their child. Language for these families is often already in place. This is one of the most significant advantages deaf parents have and one of the most challenging disadvantages that hearing parents have. Ninety percent of children who are deaf are born to hearing parents (Padden & Humphries, 1988). The possibility of a hearing parent encountering a deaf adult who is successful and participates as a functional member of society will depend on where they live as Deaf Communities tend to be found in urban areas. The Deaf Community is a minority population that congregates in areas where there are other deaf individuals (typically higher populated areas of people). This limits the possibility of many hearing parents and their deaf children ever meeting someone who is deaf, consulting with them and gaining a different perspective on deafness. Therefore, by interacting with a deaf adult in an Early Intervention Program, are hearing parents (who have a deaf baby) able to improve their communication interactions with their child, and in what other ways are they affected? If Early Intervention Programs do provide Deaf Role Models, to what capacity are they working or serving in? Lastly, do early intervention teachers feel it is important to have Deaf Role Models involved in their programs?

Navigating Deaf Education

Hearing parents encounter a stream of professionals with their opinions and approaches to deafness (Lane, Hoffmeister and Bahan, 1996). The majority of professionals see the child from a clinical or pathological perspective, which Marschark (1997) describes as a, model acquired during their medical school training, From their viewpoint, being deaf is a serious handicap and an impediment to normal development; yet they know nothing of linguistics, literacy and the future academic challenges these families face. Many medical professionals are unaware there is a group of people who are deaf and who identify with each other as a culture, which encompasses a natural language, social norms, behaviors, beliefs and values. With this, most opinions and suggestions provided by medical professionals offer to hearing parents are welcomed. Rarely is a parent offered a complete perspective about deafness and how it impacts a family and the child himself (Lane, Hoffmeister and Bahan, 1996). …