Suggestions for Helping Students Who Are Deaf Succeed in General Education Settings
Luckner, John L., Muir, Sheryl, Communication Disorders Quarterly
Research on successful students who are deaf and receive the majority of their education in general education settings suggested the importance of 10 factors for promoting this success. In an effort to bridge the gap between research and practice, specific suggestions about how to integrate the identified factors into the educational programs of students who are deaf are provided in this article.
The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997 contain several provisions directed at providing students with disabilities greater access to the general education curriculum. As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of students with disabilities who receive all or part of their education in general education classrooms. For example, the U.S. Department of Education (2001) reported that approximately 84% of students who are deaf or hard of hearing are served at least on a part-time basis in general education classrooms.
Recently, we reported the results of a qualitative research study on 20 successful students who were deaf and received the majority of their educational services in general education settings (Luckner & Muir, 2001). In that study we interviewed (a) the successful students, (b) the deaf education teacher and/or the educational interpreter and/or the paraprofessional notetaker of the successful students, (c) a general education teacher who worked with the successful students, and (d) a parent of a successful student. We also observed these students in one of their general education classrooms. As a result of our investigation, we identified a set of 10 factors that emerged across respondents (see Table 1). In this article, we provide suggestions based on the results of that study for helping students who are deaf and receive educational services in general education settings. Due to manuscript length limitations, discussion of these suggestions is general, and each suggestion could be elaborated on more fully in a different context.
Increasing the active participation of parents in the education of their children is a national goal in both general and special education (U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Research with hearing students has suggested that when parents are involved, (a) students achieve more, regardless of any other variable (e.g., socioeconomic status, parents' educational level); (b) students exhibit more positive attitudes and behaviors; (c) students have higher graduation rates and greater enrollment rates in postsecondary education; and (d) junior and senior high school students make better transitions, maintain the quality of their work, and develop realistic plans for the future (Henderson & Berla, 1995).
Unfortunately, despite legislative intent, parent involvement has not reached desired levels. The bureaucracy of special education may intimidate parents and discourage them from participating, or perhaps the logistics of work schedules, transportation, and childcare are difficult to coordinate. Whatever the reason, programs for students who are deaf need to identify ways to increase parental involvement. Practices found to enhance parent involvement include teaching families about their rights under IDEA and establishing ongoing relationships between parents and school personnel (Cheney, Manning, & Upham, 1997).
Communication is the key to developing such relationships. Educational programs can make information such as school policies, assessment activities, and school goals available to families. Translating all communications into the native language for non-English-speaking parents is critical. Whenever possible, multiple methods of communication, such as sending home notes, using mail, telephoning, faxing, and using e-mail, should be employed.
Teachers can create class newsletters and organize social events such as class picnics at times when families can best attend. …