Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Accommodations Use Patterns in High School and Postsecondary Settings for Students Who Are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Accommodations Use Patterns in High School and Postsecondary Settings for Students Who Are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

Educational accommodations are commonly used to provide access to instruction and to remove barriers that can prevent students from demonstrating their true knowledge and skills (Bolt & Thurlow, 2004). Students who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing (SDHH) are unique with regard to their communication, language, and cultural characteristics (Lane, 2005), and, as a result, have different patterns of accommodations use than other students who use accommodations services (Cawthon & Online Research Lab, 2006). SDHH are a heterogeneous1 group, with some using visual language modalities, such as American Sign Language (ASL), and self-identifying as culturally Deaf (Padden & Humphries, 1988). Other SDHH may prefer a hearing (or hard of hearing) identity and use sound amplification to acquire access to their educational environment. Still other students exist along a continuum between these two poles, with differences in identities and communication functionalities that may overlap and vary even within a single individual, depending on place and context (Stanley, Ridley, Harris, & Manthorpe, 2011).

In tandem with variations in communication modality preferences and communication characteristics of different instructional contexts, SDHH may have access to a range of instructional and assessment accommodations, such as sign language interpreters, speechto-text recording, or FM systems (Caw - thon, 2009). However, SDHH may also have access to accommodations used by other student groups, such as English Language Learners or students with learning disabilities. These accommodations can include extended time, reduced linguistic complexity of items, and reduced-distraction testing (Abedi, 2006; Cawthon & Online Research Lab, 2006; Sireci, Scarpati, & Li, 2005). Access to accommodations, however, varies not only by student but also by educational setting. The present study explored how the accommodations use of SDHH might vary between secondary and postsecondary settings, with particular attention to potential differences between accommodations that address language and communication access issues (LC) and those that serve more general access needs (non-LC). In order to further understand the role of accommodations use during transition, we also examined the potential impact of accommodations use on student retention and postsecondary degree completion.

Context of the Transition From Secondary to Postsecondary for SDHH

Although linguistic and communication characteristics of SDHH are not a disability, per se, in order for SDHH to have equal opportunity to learn within English- and hearing-focused educational settings, access measures (including the provision of accom - modations) must be taken (Cawthon, Schoffstall, & Garberoglio, 2014). Related research on transition-related factors for SDHH thus focuses on characteristics of students and of the systems around them (Cawthon et al., 2014; Luft & Huff, 2011). Studentlevel factors include traditional predictors of college attendance-for example, parent education level or socioeconomic status-as well as disability-related factors such as accommodations use and self-determination skills (Fleming & Fairweather, 2012). As with all students, academic preparation is a significant predictor of college readiness and student classroom learning for SDHH (Convertino, Marschark, Sapere, Sarchet, & Zupan, 2009). Yet SDHH who may possess the requisite academic and personal skills for successful transition still encounter barriers to matriculation (Lang, 2002): Estimates of the retention rates of SDHH are around 53% eight years after enrollment in postsecondary settings (Wagner, Newman, Cameto, Javitz, & Valdez 2012).

Most research on factors related to transition focuses on student readiness or preparation for postsecondary experiences (Coyle, 2012; Test et al., 2009). The interplay between different student-level factors, both related to and secondary to being a person who is d/Deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), can be quite complex. …

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