Preliminary Results of the Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth in Puerto Rico: The First Wave

By Albertorio, Juan Rafael; Holden-Pitt, Lisa et al. | American Annals of the Deaf, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Preliminary Results of the Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth in Puerto Rico: The First Wave


Albertorio, Juan Rafael, Holden-Pitt, Lisa, Rawlings, Brenda, American Annals of the Deaf


Preliminary findings are provided from the data collected in Puerto Rico through the Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth during the 1997-1998 school year. The study was conducted as a part of an initiative to increase participation in the Annual Survey among the deaf and hard of hearing school-age population in Puerto Rico. Demographic, instructional, etiological, audiological, and communication data on 336 deaf and hard of hearing school age children were collected and summarized. The findings suggest the existence of a heterogeneous deaf community rather than the traditionally conceived homogenous community. The discussion emphasizes the description of those attributes that suggest heterogeneity and the urgent need to continue to collect the kind of data gathered in the survey. The authors urge that Puerto Rican educators and researchers be stimulated to address the educational and health-related needs of Puerto Rico's deaf and hard of hearing school-age population.

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions. Although it affects mainly older persons, its effects on children can have major developmental and educational implications (Ries, 1994). For example, in the United States, research has linked hearing loss in the school-age Population with delays in social development (Davis, 1990; Davis, Efenbein, Schum, & Bentler, 1986) and oral language (Bess & McConnell, 1981; YoshinagaItano, Sedey, Coulter, & Mehl, 1998), and with serious limitations in educational performance relative to hearing peers, even when the hearing loss is minimal (Bess, Dodd-Murphy, & Parker, 1998).

Most of these findings are widely known among professionals in health and education as a result of the well-established research atmosphere that prevails in the United States. However, beyond the borders of the United States, research into the educational characteristics of the Deaf community is very limited. This is certainly the case in Puerto Rico. On the island, it is generally recognized by health and education professionals that hearing loss is widespread, especially among Younger people. Unfortunately, the impact of hearing loss on Puerto Rican society has not vet been scientifically studied. As a result, there are only general and outof-date assumptions and limited information about the deaf and hard of hearing Population available to educators and health professionals.

The aim of the present study is to provide results Of data collected in Puerto Rico through the Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth (hereafter, Annual Survey) during the 1997-1998 school year. The present study was conducted as a part of an initiative to increase the Annual Survey participation rate among the deaf and hard of hearing school-age population in Puerto Rico. Demographic, instructional, etiological, audiological, and communication data on 336 deaf and hard of hearing school-age children were collected and summarized.

A Potential Benefit of Collecting Data on Puerto Rico's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population: A Theoretical Approach Rodriguez (1997) suggested that the main obstacle to deafness-related research in Puerto Rico is the lack of data available on the deaf and hard of hearing school-age population. A review of recent literature concerning hearing disabilities in Puerto Rico suggests that this is not an isolated observation. Similar points of view are found in various educational research efforts, theses, and dissertations undertaken on the island. For example, Albertorio (1997), Saliva (1992), and Villafane (1992) all have proclaimed the need for reliable, up-to-date information-particularly demographic, etiological, and instructional informarise regarding the deaf school-age deaf and hard of hearing school-age population have long recognized the need for demographic information about this group. Cohen (1993) suggested that the development of a demographic profile of the school-age deaf population is necessary if this group's educational needs are to be addressed adequately. …

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