Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Parents' Perspectives on Transition and Postsecondary Outcomes for Their Children Who Are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Parents' Perspectives on Transition and Postsecondary Outcomes for Their Children Who Are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

What do postsecondary outcomes look like for students who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing? There is a paucity of research on the different pathways to work and employment for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as the factors that facilitate or impede their success. As part of a low-incidence population, young people who are deaf or hard of hearing represent less than 1% of the exiting high school population in the United States (Data Accountability Center, 2012). Consequently, students who are deaf or hard of hearing are a low-incidence population in postsecondary settings (Rawlings, Karchmer, Decaro, & Allen, 1991). Although their average enrollment rates are comparable to those of their peers, lower retention and graduation rates from postsecondary education and training opportunities further reduce the representation of these students in the workforce (Wagner, Newman, Cameto, Levine, & Garza, 2006). Estimates suggest that approximately two thirds of deaf and hard of hearing students who begin postsecondary studies will not graduate (Marschark, Lang, & Albertini, 2002; Myers & Taylor, 2000; Newman, Wagner, Cameto, & Knokey, 2009). It is also known that in comparison to the general population, young adults who are deaf or hard of hearing are less likely to live independently (Newman et al., 2011), and are underemployed and underpaid (MacLeodGallinger, 1992; Schroedel & Geyer, 2000; Winn, 2007).

These findings indicate that the current transition process may not adequately serve the needs of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Transition for deaf and hard of hearing students is complex and includes factors from many different contexts of their lives, including home, school, and community (Bullís & Egelston-Dodd, 1990). Many of the challenges to successful transitions from secondary education for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing stem from reduced access to rigorous education and full communication models in their K-12 education (Siegel, 2005), lack of professional expertise in resources and strategies that best fit the needs of these students (Luft, 2012), and, as a result, lower levels of proficiency in college and career readiness skills (Luft & Huff, 2011). A deeper understanding of the factors that inhibit and support their success is necessary to improve the postsecondary outcomes of these students. Past research suggests that parents play an important role in the transition experience for students with disabilities (Test et al., 2009; Wagner, Newman, Cameto, Javitz, & Valdes, 2012). The purpose of the present article, specifically, is to explore aspects of parental perspectives as part of the transition process for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Conceptual Framework

Studies on family factors in educational outcomes for students who are deaf or hard of hearing have investigated variables such as types of family support (Jackson, 2011; Jamieson, ZaidmanZait, & Poon, 2011), parent hearing status and sign language use (Crowe, 2003; Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004), broader issues of communication (Borum, 2012; Polat, 2003; Vaccari & Marschark, 1997), and parent stress (Hintemair, 2006; Pipp-Siegel, Sedey, & Yoshinaga-Itano, 2002). Each of these variables focuses on the family unit and how the family is a context for development for individuals throughout their academic career. The present article contributes to the literature on family factors of students who are deaf or hard of hearing, with a specific focus on the parental role during the postsecondary transition process. For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, transition often includes a formal process that is a continuation of the individualized education program (IEP) planning process used to identify any needed services and accommodations in the K-12 education context, per the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act Amendments of 2004 (IDEA). …

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