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New study examines barriers faced by hard-of-hearing students

American deaf and hard of hearing K-12 students face major barriers and challenges while trying to get an education, says a new report by the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University.

The Clerc Center announced the report Critical Needs of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: A Public Input Summary on June 10, 2013. The center says that the report was created to describe the barriers that children with hearing loss aged birth to 21 face in the classroom and with school administration.

classroom, deaf and hard of hearing children, sign language Researchers gathered 1400 comments from 775 participants that identified five major barriers and four main themes in the education of children with hearing loss. Out of the respondents, 85 percent lived or worked with these children and were from groups that were traditionally not represented in previous research.

The five barriers identified were:

  • A lack of knowledge and education about children with hearing loss among professionals, caregivers and the public
  • A lack of collaboration between these groups
  • Unqualified professionals and service providers
  • A lack of accommodation in the school system
  • Not enough focus on child self-development

“Common themes emerge regardless of background and context - this is powerful information for people to consider when planning their programs and services, serving students, identifying priorities and needs, and seeking resources,” said Dr. Sue Jacoby, the executive director of Planning, Development, and Dissemination at the Clerc Center.

A total of 14 barriers were identified by researchers with four themes among nearly two thirds of the responses: resources; language and communication; qualified direct service personnel; and social concerns.

“This collection of public input provides valuable insight into the wide and diverse range of perspectives regarding the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children, their families, and the professionals who work with them across the nation,” wrote Dr. Christen Szymanski, the director of Research and Evaluation at the Clerc Center, and the leader of the data analysis.

The 18 page document contains statistics and analysis that are intended to benefit academic researchers, educators, grant seekers, and service providers. Dr. Jacoby coordinated the data collection from the spring of 2010 to the winter of 2011.

“These findings make a powerful contribution to the national conversation on deaf education,” said Ed Bosso, vice president of the Clerc Center. “This document gives us a pulse on deaf education, as reported by parents, educators, administrators, service professionals, all of whom the Clerc Center serves. This will help the Clerc Center identify and design high impact strategies to address them.”

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