Procedures for Working with Students with Deafness or Hearing Impairments in General Physical Education
Lucas, Matthew D., VAHPERD Journal
Definition of Deafness and Hearing Impairment
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides definitions of 13 disability categories. If a child between the ages of 3-21 is determined to have a disability as defined by this federal law, the student is entitled to a "free, appropriate, public education" under IDEA. This "free, appropriate, public education" includes physical education. Two of the disability categories that are covered by this law are Deafness and Hearing Impairment. Deafness means a "a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification." (I.D.E.A., 2004). Hearing impairment is defined in the law as an "impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness" (I.D.E.A., 2004). It is important to note that deafness may be viewed as a condition that completely prevents an individual from receiving sound in all or most of its forms. However, in contrast, an individual with a hearing loss can generally respond to auditory stimuli, including speech (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2002).
General Characteristics/General Educational Implications of an Individual with Deafness or Hearing Impairment in the Classroom
When discussing the characteristics and educational implications of individuals with deafness and hearing impairments from a general standpoint one should note that neither hearing loss nor deafness affects a person's intellectual capacity. However, children who are either hard of hearing or deaf generally require some form of special education services/modifications in order to receive an appropriate education. This is true because one of the two main senses--hearing--that individuals generally use to obtain information is negatively affected (the other sense being vision). Such special education services/modifications often include: auditory training from a specialist; amplification systems; services of an interpreter for those students who use sign language; favorable seating in the class to facilitate lip reading; captioned films/videos; and assistance of a note-taker. Children who have a hearing impairment will often find it difficult to learn many aspects of verbal communication including vocabulary, grammar, and word order. For children who are deaf or have severe hearing losses, early, consistent, and conscious use of visible communication modes (such as sign language, fingerspelling, and Cued Speech) are often beneficial. In addition, for these children, amplification and oral training can help reduce this language delay (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2002). Another strategy that teachers should employ for individuals with a hearing impairment--as well as with all students--is to obtain feedback from the students at every opportunity as an indicator of the student's level of understanding (Strategies for Teaching Children With Hearing Impairments, 2004). However, since the environment of a general physical education class is different than that of a classroom, special challenges will present themselves and special considerations must be made to properly instruct a student with a hearing impairment in a general physical education class. The following section will note possible challenges present when working with individuals with deafness or hearing impairments in the specific setting of a general physical education class.
Possible Challenges of Working with Individuals with Deafness or Hearing Impairments in General Physical Education
As mentioned earlier the two main senses that individuals generally use to obtain information are vision and hearing. And, of course, students with deafness or hearing impairments are either not able or have problems in using one of these senses--hearing. …