Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Itinerant Deaf Educator and General Educator Perceptions of the D/hh Push-In Model

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Itinerant Deaf Educator and General Educator Perceptions of the D/hh Push-In Model

Article excerpt

A QUALITATIVE CASE STUDY using the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) push-in model was conducted on the perceptions of 3 itinerant deaf educators and 3 general educators working in 1 school district. Participants worked in pairs of 1 deaf educator and 1 general educator at 3 elementary schools. Open-ended research questions guided the study, which was concerned with teachers' perceptions of the model in general and with the model's advantages, disadvantages, and effectiveness. Data collected from observations, one-to-one interviews, and a focus group interview enabled the investigator to uncover 4 themes: Participants (a) had an overall positive experience, (b) viewed general education immersion as an advantage, (c) considered high noise levels a disadvantage, and (d) believed the effectiveness of the push-in model was dependent on several factors, in particular, the needs of the student and the nature of the general education classroom environment.

Keywords: inclusive deaf education, push-in model, itinerant deaf educator, general educator

Since enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, there has been a steady increase in the number of deaf and hard of hearing students who attend public school (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2011; National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). Reauthorized in 1990 as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the law has led to increasing numbers of deaf and hard of hearing students learning within the general education classroom with their nondisabled peers. In this new setting, deaf and hard of hearing students have often required educational support from a teacher of the deaf or an itinerant deaf educator.

A combination of the federal law, advances in hearing technologies, and deaf educator support has resulted in a new, inclusive service model for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, known as push-in services in some school districts. In this model, an itinerant deaf educator travels to the general education classroom and works with the student who is deaf or hard of hearing in that environment. Although this appears to be an increasingly common practice across many U.S. school districts (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2011), little is known about the perceptions of itinerant deaf educators and general educators regarding pushin services (Foster & Cue, 2009; Hyde & Power, 2004).

Review of the Literature

Early hearing loss identification, amplification, and language intervention have resulted in a generation of deaf and hard of hearing children who are better prepared for public school and general education classroom settings (Berndsen & Luckner, 2012; Spencer & Marschark, 2010). Along with special education laws, these advances have led to increasing numbers of deaf and hard of hearing students in public schools and general education classrooms (Spencer & Marschark, 2010). However, studies on this population and on itinerant deaf education have been intermittent over the last few decades. This scarcity of research could be due to challenges in locating deaf and hard of hearing students in general education settings (HoldenPitt & Diaz, 1998; Reed, Antia, & Kreimeyer, 2008). In one study, the National Center for Education Statistics (2011) reported that 86% of students with hearing impairments were placed in regular schools, with 79% of them learning in general education classrooms.

Debate persists over the shift in educational placement for students who are deaf or hard of hearing (Fiedler, 2001; Steffan Jr., 2004; Thagard, Hilsmier, & Easterbrooks, 2011). Some studies have suggested that these students can be successful in the inclusive classroom environment in general education (Antia, Stinson, & Gaustad, 2002; McCain & Antia, 2005; Thagard et al., 2011). Other studies have deemed such inclusion to have limited benefits - citing potential isolation due to communication barriers and stifled independence due to reliance on support staff (Fiedler, 2001; Nowell & Innes, 1997; Steffan Jr. …

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