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Educating Deaf StudentsFrom Research to Practice$
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Marc Marschark, Harry G. Lang, and John A. Albertini

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195310702.001.0001

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Characteristics of Deaf Learners

Characteristics of Deaf Learners

Chapter:
(p.41) 3 Characteristics of Deaf Learners
Source:
Educating Deaf Students
Author(s):

Marc Marschark

Harry G. Lang

John A. Albertini

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780195310702.003.0007

In the interests of equality, sensitivity, and political correctness, it is often claimed that deaf and hearing individuals are exactly the same, except for their hearing losses. To some extent, this attitude may reflect an understandable swing of the pendulum after years of society’s treating deaf individuals as though they are deficient. At the same time, we believe that there is now considerable evidence to indicate that the experiences, knowledge, and strategies of deaf individuals often differ in some ways from those of hearing individuals, and that such differences are likely to influence learning. At one level, the question of differences between deaf and hearing learners is a statistical, descriptive one. This chapter provides some basic information in that regard, including demographics, types and causes of hearing loss, and issues relating to educational placement. We discuss populations and their characteristics. At another level, however, the question of differences between deaf and hearing learners is about individuals. There, the relevant issues are more empirical than descriptive, and an interdisciplinary perspective becomes important. If deaf and hearing students were the same except for their hearing losses, then we would not have to worry about special educational methods, issues of social integration, or whether a local public school or special school program would be better for a deaf child. If deaf and hearing children were the same except for their hearing losses, we could put them in the same classrooms and assume the same background knowledge, social skills, and educational futures. The problem is that life is rarely so simple. By virtue of their hearing losses, many deaf children (and particularly those with hearing parents) have somewhat different early environments than hearing children. Frequently, those children do not have access to the language of their families, and their parents are not fully prepared for handling the special needs of a child who cannot hear. With differences in communication, early social interactions, and ways of acquiring new information, it seems likely that deaf children will have some characteristics that distinguish them from hearing children.

Keywords:   audiograms, cochlea, decibel loss, employment, hard-of-hearing, loop systems, mainstreaming, otitis media, peers, role models

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