Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Lessons for Inclusion: Classroom Experiences of Students with Mild and Moderate Hearing Loss

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Lessons for Inclusion: Classroom Experiences of Students with Mild and Moderate Hearing Loss

Article excerpt


Mild or moderate hearing loss (MMHL) is a communication disability impacting academic performance, fatigue, and social and emotional quality of life for up to 15% of students (Niskar et al., 2001; Shargorodsky, Curhan, Curhan, & Eavey, 2010). Due to the mostly intelligible speech of these students, teachers may easily overlook their difficulties in classrooms and subsequently give little attention to their inclusion or mitigating the effects of their hearing loss (Antia, Jones, Reed, & Kreimeyer, 2009; Moeller, 2007). While research addressing social inclusion of more severely hard of hearing, deaf or culturally Deaf students is considerable (e.g., Eriks-Brophy et al., 2006; Rose, 2002), educational and psychological databases and major handbook chapters on special education and exceptional learners include little on the status, inclusion, or environmental contexts of students with MMHL (Andrews, Shaw, & Lomas, 2011; Reynolds & Fletcher-Janzen, 2007). Relatively few qualitative studies report the perceptions of this population in great detail and although informative, quantitatively designed studies provide limited opportunity for expression of what can be a complex lived experience (Kitchin, 2000; Marschark, & Albertini, 2004).

The purpose of this research is to investigate the experiences of students with MMHL to gain insight into how they conceptualized and managed their hearing loss during their school career and to develop recommendations for researchers and educators towards enhancing their full participation. Self-determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), a social cognitive theory examining motivation, development, and performance based on the fulfillment of three psychological needs--relatedness, competence, and autonomy--provide an analytical framework for investigating social interaction and intrinsic well-being (Roeser, Eccles & Sameroff, 2000). Ryan and Deci (2000) argue that adults can support students' psychological needs when they have a realistic understanding of the design of social environments and Best (1999) asserts that educators need to be sensitive to the impact that social construction of disability, social context, and student interactions have on students. Thus, in addition to Self-determination Theory, disability identity development research (e.g., Gill, 1997; Hindhede, 2011) provide analytical tools to expand the latent meanings of participants' lived experiences in integrated classrooms.

Mild and Moderate Hearing Disability

The MMHL Population

MMHL can be defined as ranging from pure tone air-conduction thresholds of 1530 decibels (dB) to 30-70 dB (Mehra, Eavey, Keamy, 2009). These terms however are audiological threshold categories which do not necessarily reflect student functionality in integrated school environments. For this report, MMHL encompasses a range of students who, compared to those with profound hearing loss or deafness, do not usually receive intensive educational interventions and "who generally have residual hearing sufficient to enable successful processing of linguistic information through audition" (Fischgrund, 1995, p. 231). Students with MMHL may have bilateral or unilateral, mild, moderate, moderately-severe hearing loss or progressive, fluctuating or temporary hearing loss during critical periods of academic and social development.


Research on prevalence is complicated by varying definitions and use of wide uncategorized ranges of hearing loss (Canadian Working Group on Childhood Hearing, 2005). In large population studies Bess, Dodd-Murphy and Parker (1998), Niskar et al. (2001) and Wake et al. (2006) have found that 11%, 12.5% and 13% respectively of school-aged children had hearing loss. Increasing numbers of deaf children have received cochlear implants over the past 20 years, and with a less severe functional status similar to MMHL, many are being educated orally in regular classrooms (Blamey et al. …

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