Lessons for Inclusion: Classroom experiences of students with mild and moderate hearing loss.

CJ Dalton

Abstract


This paper is being submitted for consideration for the special issue of CJE to be published in December 2012, entitled What is inclusive education in Canada?

 

Up to 15 % of the student population in integrated classrooms has mild or moderated hearing loss (MMHL) (Niskar et al., 2001), a communication disability that can impact language development, academic performance, and social-emotional quality of life. Due to the mostly intelligible speech of these students, teachers may easily overlook their difficulties with classroom participation and subsequently give little attention to mitigating the effect of their hearing loss. Consequently, full inclusion of students with MMHL in integrated classrooms can be compromised. The purpose of this research is to investigate through in-depth interview the experiences of students with MMHL to gain insight into how they, as learners, conceptualized and managed their hearing loss during their school career. Self-determination theory provided an analytical framework and disability identity development research expanded the latent meanings of the school experiences that students with hearing loss negotiate in their attempts to gain full inclusion at school. Participants’ statements revealed a reluctance to seek support from educators or peers, even in instances of communication breakdown. Qualitative analysis highlighted a coherent message that educators (a) understand the lived experience of students with MMHL, (b) recognize the inherent contradictions that can accompany this disability, and (c) attend to student needs; to communication, learning, and social-emotional needs. Practical teaching strategies facilitating inclusion of students with MMHL are provided, as are recommendations for educational researchers to ascertain the type of supports from which they could benefit to gain full inclusion in their classrooms.

 

Keywords: Inclusion, hearing loss, social-emotional, disability identity

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