EDUCATION OF PEOPLE WITH HEARING LOSS Prepared by TIME Foundation in the framework of eFESTO project 2009-1-PL1-LEO05-050281 The first part of the text investigates the pathways for teaching people with different levels of hearing loss – from mild to profound. The second part of the scientific paper attempts an overview of the situation of deaf education in other countries. The third part reflects the current state of Bulgarian deaf education and the situation of deaf pupils in Bulgarian special and mainstream schools. There is a brief historical overview of the onset and development of deaf pupils’ education in Bulgaria.
PART 1. Pathways for teaching people with hearing loss I begin my overview with the citation: “Anyone who has ever tried to present a rather abstract scientific subject in a popular manner knows the great difficulties of such an attempt. Either he succeeds in being intelligible by concealing the core of the problem…by offering to the reader only superficial aspects or vague illusions, thus deceiving the reader in arousing in him the deceptive illusion of comprehension; or else he gives an expert account of the problem in such a fashion that the untrained reader is unable to follow the exposition and becomes discouraged from reading any further.” (citation: Mark Marschark, Raising and Educating a Deaf Child—A Comprehensive Guide to the Choices, Controversies, and Decisions Faced by Parents and Educators, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. Viii). The subject of deaf education is highly charged both emotionally and politically. There are no perfect answers and no simple ones. Most parents are aware that something is awry well before that time and the vast majority of pediatricians tend to put off early testing. Many valuable months have passed by the time there is a confirmation of deafness. Most parents find themselves in the untenable position of being told that they need to make important
The eFESTO project has been funded with support of the European Commission (Leonardo da Vinci Programme). This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
decisions about their child’s schooling yesterday. Concurrently, many are in a mental spin regarding the fact that they now have a deaf child. If this scenario is not bad enough, there are conflicting views as to the best way to educate a deaf child.
Definitions of each of the methods will be discussed as well as what they can and cannot provide to the user. Other issues that are vital to understanding deafness or deaf education will be discussed (Zapien 1998). Voicevs.Hands-theManual/OralControversy For at least a century, the education of deaf children has been polarized into two main camps, the manualists (those who sign) and the oralists (those who rely on speech and speechreading/lipreading for communication). In addition, there is a third camp, those who use cued speech. Cued speech is not really speech at all, but a visual representation of English (or other language’s sounds – in the cases when Cued speech is adapted to other language). If parents and specialists understand the history behind the controversy, they will have a better chance of being able to filter feelings from fact and make up their minds doing the right choice for their children. During the early 1800’s, an American, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, went to England to learn a teaching method suitable for instructing deaf students. When he approached the Braidwood school, they were unwilling to share their instructional method. Braidwood’s methods were oral in nature, reliant on speech and speechreading. Fortunately a French priest, RocheAmbroise Sicard, a brilliant teacher of the deaf, was on tour demonstrating his method while Gallaudet was in England. Gallaudet went to the demonstration and was impressed with Sicard’s sign language method. He brought Sicard’s methods and Laurent Clerc, a gifted deaf teacher to Connecticut (Zapien 1998). These dedicated men established the Hartford school in 1817, later known as the American School for the Deaf. The method used in the School was sign language. During the next sixtythree years, sign language was the order of the day in the United States. About one half of all teachers of the deaf were deaf themselves and a number of deaf individuals established their own schools. During this golden era of signed deaf education, Congress established the National Deaf Mute College in 1864. Today, this institution is known as Gallaudet University. However, the trend toward using sign language to educate the deaf changed after the Conference of Milan. The Conference of Milan was an international conference on the virtues of the two major instructional methods used to educate the deaf in that time period. The best educators in the world were in attendance. Although the United States traditionally used signed language to teach the deaf population, other countries used oral methods. Prior to Milan, there was always bickering between educators as to which method was superior, sign or speech. It is
important also to remember that the participants of this battle royal cared deeply for the children under their care. However, their very human preferences and agendas have haunted all of us to this day. A parent respondent shared this insight “NO One has one right way to raise a deaf child, any more than anyone has one right way to raise a hearing child. The politics involved in deaf education are nauseating and who suffers the most in the end are the children themselves.” (Zapien 1998). In 1880, the two did battle at the Conference of Milan. The conclusion of the Conference was that the oral method was superior. This changed the course of teaching history for the next eighty years. Within ten years, the number of deaf teachers of the deaf dropped to one quarter of total teachers. Within the next twenty years the number of deaf teachers teaching deaf students fell to one fifth of the total. Regrettably, many talented deaf teachers went into retirement during this period of time. The decision of Milan international conference affected members of the Deaf community profoundly, professionally and personally. Signing in the classroom became a forbidden thing. Anecdotally, people have shared stories about being forced to sit on their hands. Upon reflection, deaf children had poor communication with their teachers and no effective way of communicating among themselves. The fairness of harsh discipline under these circumstances is questionable. As a result of these attitudes and practices, signing was done in secret and Sign language was often taught to the younger children by the older youths in the residential institutions. Sign was forbidden because educators believed that if a profoundly deaf child signed, he would not learn how to speak since speaking is a difficult skill for a deaf child to learn. All spoken languages are truly difficult to speechread. Many words look identical upon the lips. In order to speechread effectively the individual must have an excellent grasp of the spoken language. Most deaf people in the time period being discussed had never heard the spoken language and did not have a grasp of the language, yet they were expected to learn their lessons and learn to communicate without having the necessary tools to do so. For many deaf individuals, the frustration caused by this system and the poor scholastic results achieved by the system added fuel to a bitter situation. Then in the early 1960s William Stokoe wrote and published „Sign Language Structure”. This work proclaimed that American Sign Language (ASL) was, indeed, a true language on a par with any spoken language. From this point forward, various forms of signed communication, were used more frequently in the in the classroom. In 1966, Dr. Orin Cornett designed Cued Speech. This method is not sign, nor is it really speech, but rather a visual way to present the phonology of the English language. Shortly thereafter all of the Manual Codes for English
came into being. Total Communication also emerged about this time. The teaching trends begun in 1880 had finally begun to turn around. Today, the attitudes towards teaching deaf children have changed drastically. Many professionals in the field of deafness suggest a tool box approach. Generally the professionals feel that some form of signing, preferably the national Sign language/s, is useful to the deaf child. Quite a number advocate using the bilingual model. One professional writes: ”What the U.S. desperately needs as soon as possible is a TRULY bilingual program for deaf kids in which ASL via signs and English via cues are given equal importance.” Regrettably, the damage between the Deaf and hearing communities had been done. Trust between people and establishments take many years to heal. The deaf individuals of this era and their parents must deal with the basic challenge of finding a common way to communicate (Zapien 1998). Modelsofdeafness:Medicalmodelvs.Culturalmodel The medical model is distinguished by the viewpoint that deafness is a functional disorder that needs to be fixed. In this viewpoint deaf people are seen as handicapped. Generally, people holding this viewpoint consider the hearing condition the optimal model and use the auditory methods to obtain the goals of using residual hearing, speechreading and speech. An individual is deemed successful if he/she gains good oral skills. The use of assistive devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants is considered appropriate. A person who has this viewpoint is called “deaf”. On the other hand, the cultural model of deafness defines the deaf individual as a linguistic minority with a distinct language, culture and mores. Deafness is viewed as a difference. The individual is viewed as a visual being whose natural language is Sign language or any other naturally occurring signed language. The individual does not need to be fixed. Here is what a parent thinks about that: “We always said Kathleen was “diagnosed” as deaf. In 1991, due to exposure to the Deaf Community, our perspectives and ideas changed completely! We now say that Kathleen was “identified” as deaf. She wasn’t and isn’t sick. She didn’t need to be “fixed”.” An individual is deemed successful if he/she attains fluency in Sign language. A person with this viewpoint is considered “Deaf”. Why can’t a person simply be deaf? Most of the people are not extremists. Individuals who are members of the Deaf Community are able to communicate and become friends with members of the Hearing Community and visa versa.
Irene Schmalz, an oral deaf parent shares these thoughts: “It [Deaf Culture] is a matter of personal opinion and it is wonderful for those who wish to be a member.” The value of understanding that there is more than one way to approach deafness, lay in the ability to decipher the mindset behind all the “wonderful” advice that is frequently showered upon parents of deaf children (Zapien 1998). PublicLawsThatAffectDeafEducation(intheUSA) The latter cites author claims that prior to 1975, “more than one-half of the children with disabilities in the United States did not receive appropriate educational services that would enable such children to have full equality of opportunity. One million of the children with disabilities in the United States were excluded entirely from the public school system and did not go through the educational process with their peers...because of the lack of adequate services within the public school system. Families were often forced to find services outside the public school system, often at great distance from their residence and at their own expense.” Due to these gaping failures on the part of the American educational system, Congress passed a series of laws that were aimed at addressing the problems. The first of these was the passing of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This combined with Public Law 94-142 (the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act) assured a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for every child with a disability. Then in 1986, Public Law 94-142 was further amended by Public Law 99-457 (Education of the Handicapped Amendments of 1986). Finally, the 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted. The IDEA now refers to the entire package of laws that assures a decent public education for all children with disabilities. One of the most important things a parent can do for their child is to know the law, their rights under it and then take a proactive stance towards their child’s education. Parents should think of themselves as their child’s only advocate in a complicated legal dispute. Individual education plan (IEP) lawyers who deal with a particular district eventually will want to compromise on an individual’s IEP to preserve their cordial relationship with the district. Parents should learn the IEP process and look for a parent who has successfully gone through fair [due] process as a mentor. Parents must be effective advocates for their children and they need to understand what the IDEA mandates the schools to do (Zapien 1998). The IDEA requires: Early and unbiased evaluation of hearing loss in school-age children.
Unbiased evaluation of deaf children using a variety of communication methods, including sign language. Each local educational agency shall ensure that tests and other evaluation materials used to assess a child under this section are provided and administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. In addition the IDEA and supporting Public Laws require that: Disabled children need to be placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) that is as close to their home as possible. Due to the communication issues inherent in deafness, the LRE clause required more careful definition by the Government. In 1992, the Department of Education issued a Notice in the Federal Register designed to clarify the issue of what is meant by LRE and Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The Policy Guideline points out that “the major barriers to learning associated with deafness relate to language and communication, which, in turn, profoundly affect most aspects of the educational process. [The] communication nature of the disability is inherently isolating, with considerable effect on the interaction with peers and teachers that make up the educational process. This interaction, for the purpose of transmitting knowledge and developing the child’s selfesteem and identity, is dependent upon direct communication. Yet, communication is the area most hampered between a deaf child and his or her hearing peers and teachers.” (Zapien 1998). Further, the Secretary is concerned that the LRE provisions of the IDEA and Section 504 are being interpreted incorrectly, to require the placement of some children who are deaf in programs that may not meet the individual student’s educational needs. Meeting the unique communication and related needs of a student who is deaf is a fundamental part of providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. Any setting, including a regular classroom, that prevents a child who is deaf from receiving an appropriate education that meets his or her needs, including communication needs, is not the LRE for the individual child. Placement decisions must be based on the child’s IEP. The decision as to what placement will provide FAPE for an individual deaf child – which includes a determination as to the LRE in which appropriate services can be made available to the child – must be made only after a full and complete IEP has been developed that addresses the full range of the child’s needs. Children with disabilities must be offered a continuum of placements ranging from hospital environments to school environments.
The IEP Team must develop an IEP for each child with a disability. The IEP Team must consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child’s language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode; and shall consider whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services.” The Law also requires that parents are included in the IEP discussions and are to be a part of the IEP Team. In addition to all of these laws, the Bilingual Education Act of 1988 provides the legal definition of the terms native language and limited English proficiency. Deaf students were included in its terminology for the first time. Some parents note that the only thing the courts require is that the schools provide a LRE and a FAPE, they do not have to offer a program in which the child will excel. They also claim that they have to fight every inch of the way with the school district to get what their child with hearing loss needs. Part of the problem is lack of knowledge. Deafness is considered a low incidence disability. It is a disability that requires personnel with highly specialized skills and knowledge. Teachers and aides with these skills are costly. Interpreters are as well. School systems, with ever tightening budgets, may have difficulty justifying the cost. As a result, they try to do with less. If they think the child can survive mainstreaming, they will push for it. Moreover, the item that ultimately determines the issue in many cases is not what the parents or administrators want but rather, what the child needs. Many parents have gotten what they felt their child needed knowing their rights and their child’s rights. Several states (North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and California) have passed a “Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights”. These Laws were passed to legislate closer adherence to the policy guidance found in the Federal Register. Others, like Massachusetts and Michigan, have a maximum feasible benefit statute. This means that children should be provided with services that allow them to meet their maximum potential instead of their average potential. Parents need to become political advocates for their children as well as educational advocates. Parent respondents suggested that other parents take the time to do some hard research. “The courts have said that with the exception of maximum benefit states the child is only entitled to an ‘appropriate’ education. Parents should never tell the school that a particular program or
course of study is necessary for their child to get the ‘best’ education.” (Zapien 1998). Several parents agreed that it is important to ask to see the draft IEP prior to the IEP meeting. They suggested that parents fill out their own IEP form and present it at the meeting to be combined with the school’s draft proposal. ThingsToConsiderWhenChoosingEducationalOptions Each person has a different learning style. What needs to be understood is that no two deaf people are alike; many professionals seem to have a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to educational strategies for deaf children. There is an ongoing controversy over the best ways to educate the deaf, and most of the arguments center around communication methods. The best thing to do is evaluate, determine the best environment, and go with the child’s strengths. Many people advocate flexibility when choosing options. Regardless of personal preference, most suggested that parents really examine all of the methods and learning strategies. Parents need information about all methods, contact with people who follow different philosophies, and plenty of flexibility in the professionals who are helping them make their decisions. They need to know they can add other approaches. There is no one option in the educational world of a deaf child – there are options. All children are different and have different needs. No one option can meet the needs of all deaf children (Zapien 1998). TypesOfDeafness There are several types of hearing losses that a person can have. These losses may determine the type of method the parent chooses and it may also determine the educational setting. Type 1 - conductive loss Conductive losses are caused by blockage or disease of the outer or middle ear. They generally are less than 60 decibels (dB). Conductive hearing losses are generally treatable by a physician and account for 5 to 10% of all hearing loss. Examples of conductive losses are: wax, rupture of the eardrum and deformity of the outer or middle ear structure. Type 2 - sensorineural hearing loss Sensorineural hearing losses are losses that involve damage to the nerves of the inner ear. These losses cannot usually be fixed. Sensorineural deafness affects both loudness and fidelity of sound, making the sound distorted. A common difficulty is loss of the high tones. This is pertinent since consonant sounds are high tones. These sounds help discriminate one word from another. Amplification is not always helpful because the distortion is amplified as well
as the sound. Different causes of sensorineural losses are: heredity, bacterial meningitis, and excessive noise. Type 3 - mixed loss It is a mixture of both sensorineural and conductive losses. Mixed losses cause difficulty with both distortion and loudness. As conductive losses tend to fluctuate, depending on the nature of the loss, mixed losses may also fluctuate. Type 4 - central hearing loss Central hearing loss involves the auditory centers in the brain. This kind of loss involves the brain-end of the process rather than the hearing end. Type 5 - progressive hearing loss The progressive hearing loss is one that worsens over the course of time. Individuals with these losses need repeated testing to keep tabs on what is happening with the child and to plan appropriately (Zapien 1998). TimeOfOnset Another consideration in determining the type of education a person should receive is the time of onset of deafness. If a person has never had the opportunity to learn his parent’s language, then he is in a different position than the ones who has language well established. Informed parents may treat the educational needs of the child deafened at 8 years of age differently than the child who was born deaf. One child remembers sound, the other child does not. One child has already learned his parents’ native tongue and has unlocked the rules to reading. The other child does not have this benefit. Prelingual deafness Prelingual deafness can be defined as deafness that occurs before the child has the opportunity to learn and begin speaking his parents’ native language. This only is true for children of hearing parents. Children of deaf parents learn Sign language or whatever sign system the parents already know. Postlingual deafness Postlingual deafness can be defined as deafness that occurs after the child has learned the parents’ native spoken language. Again, this only applies to the child of hearing parents (Zapien 1998). TheImportanceOfLanguage
Language is the one special trait that all human beings seem to possess. The process for learning language is the same for all humans, regardless of culture. Noam Chomsky noted that “the similarities among languages were more compelling than their differences, and postulated a universal grammar: a set of principles underlying the organization of all natural languages that corresponds to an innate ability in the human child to grasp linguistic principles. Language was not something that came from without to shape human thought and behavior, but rather something that come from within, an attribute of the human mind, a biological endowment, innate, and particular to the human species.” (Zapien 1998). Parents generally start the ball rolling by modeling their own language. When a child is deaf and the parents are hearing, this process is altered. The many methods and strategies designed to give deaf children access to language are an attempt to circumvent this “wall of silence”. It is important to understand what language is, as opposed to communication or speech. Language Language is the combination of semantics (vocabulary), syntax (form or structure of the language—tenses, word order, plurality, etc.), and pragmatics (how language is used to meet communication needs). Users encode their life experiences into words or signs, then recipients decode the messages to understand the experience. Language is social and modified by
sentences. Language is variable among individuals. People communicate language through different forms and modalities. Speech, writing and signing are examples of different modalities. Language does not need to have a written form. - Communication Communication can be simply defined as the ability to have one’s needs understood by another individual. It is not necessary to adhere to proper grammar or syntax to do this. Babies cry and this is considered communication. People who speak different languages often develop pidgeon “languages’ to communicate with one another. - Speech Speech is articulation and voice quality. A person can have language without speech. An individual that signs in Sign language certainly has language, but speech is not a part of the language since it is gestural. A person can have beautiful spoken language, but poor speech. Hence, the voice quality and articulation are poor, but the ability to communicate clearly in the target language is excellent. Conversely, a person can have poor spoken language and beautiful speech. In this scenario, the individual articulates beautifully, but does not use the proper syntactical structure for the language he is speaking.
The Value of Spoken Language It is difficult to have native ability in a language which one is not heard daily. Sign language (SL) is also an acceptable language option. It provides a good language base for a child. It is highly accessible and designed for the eyes. These are legitimate observations and good questions. SL is a good language option, particularly for quick and easy communication among individuals who know the language. However, one of the drawbacks to having SL as ones sole communication tool is that, to date, it does not have one generally accepted written form. Videotapes are now being used to record the visual poetry and stories shared by those who are members of Deaf Culture. Although individuals choose to remain a part of Deaf Culture, they still should have a means to access the body of literature from other cultures and times for their own edification. Without a written code to represent SL, there is no way to transcribe the literature of other cultures into SL aside from filming it. There is also no easy way of getting the vast body of general information available into ASL. The other reason for learning spoken language is one of practicality. Deaf children need to have the tools to become independent deaf adults. Some deaf children will acquire the speech skills needed to communicate their desires within the larger society of hearing individuals. It is important to be able to clearly write if speaking is not an option. Writing and understanding spoken language well are communication tools that will hopefully reap dividends when seeking employment as well (Zapien 1998). Auditory(Oral)Methods The goal of the auditory methods is to teach a child how to use his residual hearing so that he may have access to spoken language. Most deaf children have some residual (remaining) hearing. The brain, which develops rapidly in the first few years of life, needs rich language input during that time. The speech signal is redundant. Since it carries excess information, it is not necessary to hear every sound to understand a message. Additionally, there is also a great emphasis on speech and speechreading. The ultimate educational goal is to place the child in a mainstream school environment. No one method can unilaterally guarantee success for every individual. Parents and specialists that decide to pursue an auditory method need to understand that there are four critical factors that can make the difference between success and failure. Early intervention is a key. For language to be successful with deaf children (no matter what the educational approach), programs of early intervention must take place during the critical
language-learning years of birth through 6. In fact, if children start auditory stimulation after age 3, the process is progressively more difficult. Listening is a "use it or lose it“ skill. It is imperative that the parents obtain the services of an excellent pediatric audiologist for their child. The audiologist must know how to set the child’s hearing aid for speech. The child will need audiological testing every 6 months. The importance of aggressive treatment should not be underestimated. Good training is a must. If the parents pursue the auditory option, they must be willing to find people capable of training their child. There is a need for high-level parental involvement. Learning spoken language requires more effort and is a slow process. It requires a lot of work. Parents are urged to talk to their kids as much as possible. Language doesn’t just happen in therapy. Language happens all day long and the primary teacher is the parent. There are two major types of auditory training. Auditory/orall training not only stresses auditory training, but also trains a child to use speechreading and contextual clues to receive information. Children that have auditory/oral training tend to pick up sign as a second language so that they can communicate with signing peers. Auditory/verbal (AV) training only trains the child to use his residual hearing. Children that have successful AV training tend to be completely mainstreamed into hearing society. Auditory/oral training is the more traditional of the two approaches. The main focus of this type of training is to teach the child how to use his residual hearing. The earlier a child is given hearing aids, the better. Humans are uniquely programmed neurologically to develop the auditory pathways for language usage in the early years. Once this window of opportunity is missed, the neurolinguistic capabilities will forever be diminished due to retrograde auditory deterioration. In addition to training residual hearing, the child is also trained to speechread. Speechreading is challenging for several reasons. Only about 30 percent of the sounds are visible on the lips, and 50 percent are homophonous, that is, they look like something else. In order to speechread well, the individual must use high level mental gymnastics. They must make an educated guess on much of what he sees, using situation and context. This almost always requires an excellent grasp of the target language. Many prelingually, late-diagnosed deaf persons simply do not have the exposure to spoken language to pull these gymnastics off. Most deaf individuals do some speechreading. Since the goal in auditory/oral training is for the individual to both understand speech and communicate through speech, speech therapy is a necessary component in the training process. Speech therapy involves one-on-one interaction for many years and a great deal of repetition is
involved. The immediate benefit of this method is the ability to communicate with the wider hearing world. There are some studies which support the notion that the emphasis on the spoken language as the mode of communication results in higher reading levels than with signing approaches. Each method has its own type of challenges and the auditory/oral method is not different. The method is one that requires many years of hard work on the part of the child, his parents and his teachers. Often, there is little gain for many years. Quality oral programs are not always available. Quality speech therapy and private schools may be required. A number of adults, especially ones that were raised orally and learned to sign later, felt that they missed a lot of information. Group and noisy situations were considered particularly challenging. The auditory/verbal method (AV) is totally reliant on a child learning to use his residual hearing. The auditory/verbal philosophy is based upon the belief that children with all levels of hearing loss have the basic human right to the opportunity to develop the ability to listen and use verbal communication. No effort is expended on honing speechreading skills. Speech training is a part of AV therapy. AV Therapy requires one-on-one interaction and it is very intensive. The goal for these kids is to go into the mainstream. They usually do not go into any deaf education programs. AV Therapy is not widely available. This method is only for children that are aided at young age. In addition, these children must have some residual hearing when they are aided. Specialists, called auditory verbal therapists, train these children. The benefits of this type of approach are that if the therapy and the child work together well, the child can go into mainstream education. Drawbacks connected with dependence on speechreading are eliminated. One of the method’s biggest drawbacks is lack of availability. For example, there are only 50 –100 AV therapists in the US and Canada. Another potential drawback is the question of whether distorted sound is a good basis for establishing the native language and, if so, is language gained early enough to be useful? (Zapien 1998). CuedSpeech Cued Speech can be defined as a visual picture of the speech sounds and sound patterns that are used in the English language or any of the other 50 languages and dialects for which cueing has been adapted. Dr. Orin Cornett invented Cued Speech in 1966 at Gallaudet University. In American English, this system uses eight different handshapes in four different locations near the mouth. The shapes and locations in combination with the mouth movements eliminate the ambiguity of speechreading.
Cued speech is also known as cued language or cued English. It visually encodes English (or other spoken language that is adapted for) speech sounds and patterns when aural encoding is incomplete or inaccurate. Cued speech is a finite system which provides access to languages, rather than being a language itself. Cued Speech is not meant to replace SL; each provides visually clear communication – SL in the signed language, Cued Speech in the spoken language. The major purpose for Cued Speech use is to develop a child’s language. It is not intended to help a child’s speech. Cued Speech does indicate the pronunciation of words and can be very helpful when used in conjunction with good articulation therapy. Cued speech has quite a number of benefits. It can be learned in a relatively short period of time. Most parents can learn the system in a weekend. It takes about three to twelve months of consistent cueing to achieve fluency. Cued speech positively affects literacy. Hearing children become literate because they have a strong language base and an internal understanding of the syntax of spoken language long before they ever see the written word. Cued speech can enable the deaf child to internalize the target language. The step of internalizing a language is critical to the process of learning how to read and write. We learn to read and write by decoding and encoding a language we already know. Cued speech prevents parents from over-simplifying their speech because they are communicating in a language they are intimately familiar with. Hearing people who live with deaf children often simplify their language to make themselves easily understood. When parents simplify language they use fewer idioms, adjectives, and synonyms. The language they use is “anemic”. Children need to be exposed to the orchestra of vocabulary and expressions that is within a language to gain native fluency. A child with good verbal skills and a solid foundation of vocabulary will have a solid foundation for learning to read. This child will be more apt to develop higher level thinking skills and to understand advanced abstract concepts in later years. Children that use Cued Speech speechread more accurately. There is improvement in auditory discrimination. Children who use Cued Speech generally read at or above grade level. Hearing families who use Cued Speech have better communication and fewer behavioral problems. Cued Speech makes it possible to learn to speak a foreign language in a clear and accessible manner. Cued speech users do confront some frustrations. One of the greatest frustrations is that it is not used as commonly as other methods. Deaf Cuers are dispersed geographically. Many individuals who cue also sign for companionship with other deaf individuals. They find this
association to be really important. No one but another deaf person can really understand what it’s like to be deaf, and the social support and role models within the deaf community are very important to the deaf child. There are not enough Cued Speech transliterators. Cuers are encouraging interpreter training programs to help meet this need by including Cued Speech in their curricula. For some families, a very young hearing impaired child may have trouble expressing himself clearly until his speech skills (or expressive Cueing skills) have caught up with his receptive language abilities. Professionals and parents may opt to provide some children with basic signs to assist them with early expressive communication. There is absolutely no reason that a child exposed to Cued Speech should not also be exposed to SL concurrently. Communication is too important to be compartmentalized and inhibited by external rules forced on you by one “camp” or another SL and Cued Speech look entirely different and they convey two or more different languages. Early childhood is the optimal language learning period and children aren’t easily confused, adults are. Cued Speech can be somewhat tiring to the adults and it is very important to stay in good physical form to prevent repetitive motion injuries. Other professionals are suspect of Cued Speech and are not familiar with the method, often making unfounded negative statements. Cued Speech provides something unique – sensory integrated visible spoken phonemes. Parents must determine whether this is appropriate for their child. It is not right for every parent/child pair. However, Cued Speech seems to be a good way to establish the language base with a young child with hearing loss (Zapien 1998). ManualCodesForEnglish(MCE) A manual code for English is an artificial system. Its purpose is to present spoken English visually. Sign codes have been designed to convey, insofar as possible, the detailed structure and grammar of the spoken language. The end goal of using these systems is English – or other spoken language – literacy. The rules are different from code to code. They all use English word order and they are signed while speaking simultaneously. The obvious advantage to any of these systems is that they are easier for parents and teachers to learn. The vocabulary is different, but there is no need to learn a new grammar. These systems are useful to individuals who have not made progress in oral programs. MCEs can start the communication ball rolling. The frustration level drops significantly when children and specialists add sign to oral language. Some parent/child pairs have been successful using these methods. These families have made progress with the manual codes.
There are disadvantages to Manual Codes as well. Manual codes tend to be slower to use. On an average signs take twice as long as words to produce. It is very hard to speak and sign at the same time. When native English speakers sign they tend to leave up to 50% of the signs out of any given statement. The research shows that most parents and many teachers who are trying to use these systems end up leaving out many of the grammatical markers and the children exposed to them end up modifying them to more SL-like forms. If the purpose of using an MCE is to give a deaf child a language base on which to build, parents need to be aware that MCEs are hybrids. Hybrids rarely perform as well as either of the parent languages. Perhaps the most disheartening fact is that, in spite of twenty years worth of refining these systems, deaf teenagers continue to graduate high school reading at the 3rd to 4th grade level. Literacy has not been significantly improved. Seventy percent of the programs in the United States are sign-based. Most of those programs use some type of MCE. Of the remaining 67% of the students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and who are exposed to sign in the United States, most are in programs in which sign is used in conjunction with speech. The simultaneous use of speech and sign is known as Simultaneous Communication (SimCom). The two most commonly used Manual Codes are Signing Exact English (SEE-2) and Bornstein’s Signed English (Zapien 1998). SigningExactEnglish(SEE-2) People who use SEE-2 speak when they sign. SEE-2 was designed to correspond with the number of morphemes (or smallest units of meaning) of English. If the meaning of the words separately is consistent with the meaning of the words together only then are they signed as the component words. Many of the signs are borrowed from American Sign Language (ASL), however, certain signs are distinguished from others by initializing the signs. Grammatical markers for number, tense and person are added. Prefixes and suffixes are also added to base signs. All articles, conjunctions, and helping verbs are signed. This system has an odd rule. This rule is called the two-out-of-three rule. This rule applies to words that sound identical. A word that sounds like another word is weighed against three different criteria: sound, meaning and spelling. Words that differ in only one category will use the same sign. For example: right (direction) and right (correct) are signed identically. They sound alike and are spelled alike. However, write and right would be signed differently because they are spelled differently and also mean two different things. SEE-2 tends to be less conceptual and more literal (Zapien 1998).
SignedEnglish Signed English is also signed while speaking English simultaneously. English word order is generally used. This manual code was originally meant for young children, however entire programs began using this method. Some signers are more conceptual in their signing, while others tend to be literal signers. Most of the signs in Signed English have ASL origins. Bornstein’s basic rules are: sign either a word alone or a sign word and one sign marker; fingerspell words not provided in the dictionary; and create plurals by repeating the signs for nouns. Signed English has fourteen affix markers (e.g. –ing, -s, -ed, -y etc.) Signed English has fewer markers than SEE-2 and once the child understands the use of the marker, adult users may drop the marker. The verb “to be” is signed. Homonyms are sometimes signed the same and other times are signed based on the conceptual meaning. ContactSign Contact sign was known for many years as Pidgin Sign English or PSE. It is considered a contact language. When people have two different languages and desire to communicate with each other, contact languages are the natural outcome of their communication. In the case of contact sign, the two parent languages are English and ASL. Contact sign is actually its own entity and has influences from both languages. Contact sign was not designed or invented as in the case of the MCE. Contact sign cannot be taught, it is, instead, the natural result of bilingual interaction. The sole purpose of contact sign is communication. Contact sign can be more English in its presentation or more like ASL, depending on the skill of the signers. Contact sign is a commonly accepted form of communication between deaf and hearing people. Contact sign is used between deaf signers as well. If the parents are in the process of learning ASL, contact sign will be a natural artifact of their learning process. If the parents want their child to learn ASL, they should expose their child to native ASL signers because the child will need good language models (Zapien 1998). AmericanSignLanguage(ASL) American Sign Language is considered the language of the Deaf Community in the USA and in Canada. ASL is a visual/gestural language. It is composed of manual gestures called signs in combination with various types of non-manual grammar (mouth morphemes, appropriate facial expression, body movement etc.). Some of ASL’s grammatical features include directional verbs, classifiers, rhetorical questions and the temporal aspect. ASL has its own grammar that does not reflect the grammar of English. Where English is linear and requires
many prepositions to create a mental picture of where things are in a sentence, ASL uses the physical space in front of the signer to create the mental picture. Unlike English, ASL is well suited to the eyes. What advantages does ASL have for the deaf child, his parents and specialists? All children need a working language and should receive it during the time when humans are primed to learn language from birth to three years. Language is an essential component of normal development for all humans. Children that have an accessible language learn through informal exposure and through active use. ASL is highly accessible to the deaf child. Children learn about their world by passively absorbing information. This process is known as incidental learning. Moreover, children who acquire language at the appropriate time also learn appropriate social cues and have fewer behavioral challenges. Deaf children who learn sign language in preschool do better in academics, learning to read and write English, behaviorally and socially. Many experts in the field of language acquisition question a child’s ability to acquire a second language when they have failed to acquire a first, or native language. There is some evidence that deaf children of deaf parents fare better linguistically than deaf peers born of hearing parents, possibly due to early language acquisition. Since ASL is visual, deaf children will gravitate towards it. ASL is also far easier on a child’s eyes than any of the MCEs. Perhaps one of the most outstanding features of ASL is that this language gives average parents the ability to communicate clearly and easily with their children. As children mature into the teen years and then young adulthood, ASL can, with the help of an interpreter, allow them to maximize their higher education. Although there are a number of advantages to using ASL, there remain several disadvantages. About ninety percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. The vast majority of these parents are not native ASL signers. Even if their children were identified as deaf within the first few days after birth, they would still be behind the curve. Most languages require five years of steady practice to attain any kind of fluency. The issue of parents being inadequate language models should be a consideration. An early intervention, bilingual program might address some of these concerns. The other concern has to do with the acquisition of English grammar and English literacy. It should never be a forgone conclusion that the deaf child will speak. Some children master this skill and some do not. Therefore written English literacy should never be considered an option, but a necessary communication skill. Since the two languages are very different from each other, English can be taught as a second language. Teachers often use English as a second language techniques when teaching English grammar. They also use Signed English as
a bridge between the two languages. The best advice is that the home and school environment must be print rich with books, signs blackboards etc. Another is that parents need to read with their child. It is important because hearing children learn language by being surrounded with language night and day. There are a limited number of ways to surround a deaf child with spoken English. One good way is to focus their attention to the written word. ASL alone will not provide all of the necessary skills that the work environment demands. Children who sign must have excellent reading and writing skills. They need these skills to communicate with their hearing peers. Perhaps of more vital significance, excellent reading skills allow children access to information. Access to information is knowledge and knowledge is power. English is another path to information, in the form of books, newspapers and computers. It’s also a bridge to the hearing world and major job markets (Zapien 1998). Billingual-Bicultural(Bi-Bi) - Traditional Approach The traditional approach to bilingual-bicultural education is founded on the premise that Auditory/oral and Total Communication approaches do not meet the linguistic and cultural needs of deaf children; that natural sign language, such as American Sign Language is the “biologically preferred” mode of communication for deaf individuals and that deaf children can acquire verbal language in the written form through the language base of natural sign language. Hence, ASL is taught to the child first and then English is taught as a second language. The benefits of such a program are that deaf children receive a language that is highly accessible to them. In the Bi-Bi approach, teachers that are native in the language model ASL for the child. In addition, parents who are hearing may engage a deaf adult who will model ASL in the home environment until the parents’ language skills are adequate. If the child attends a residential school, they also have the opportunity to learn from his peers. Since everyone signs ASL, the feeling of isolation often found among signing children placed in the mainstream is ameliorated. Since ASL is strongly connected with Deaf Culture, children in Bi-Bi programs have the opportunity to learn about, and participate in, Deaf Culture. This method is particularly useful for deaf children of parents fluent in ASL since the parents already know the target language and can model it correctly. There are several disadvantages to this approach. The first is availability. Outside of the residential schools for the deaf, the Bi-Bi approach is not common. Signing is a difficult skill for hearing parents to master and they may resent having a stranger in their home, should they decide to engage a language model for their child. Bi-Bi does not spend time working on
audition or speech. In fact, it is felt to be morally wrong to impose on deaf children a language they cannot acquire, this, spoken language. This policy can limit participation in hearing culture. - A less traditional, but alternative approach is to pair ASL and Cued Speech together. In this scenario, deaf children have English imprinted via Cued Speech and have sign imprinted via ASL. The language of the family would be a practical consideration in this type of program. If the child came from a signing family, his parents would continue to model their native language and English would be modeled via Cued Speech at school. If the child came from native English speaking family, the parents would continue to model English via Cued Speech. The child would receive ASL instruction by a native ASL signer at school. Speech and audition would not necessarily be proscribed in this scenario. The ultimate goal would be for each child to become bilingual (Zapien 1998). TotalCommunication(TC) Total Communication is an educational philosophy. Total Communication can best be defined as eclectic, borrowing techniques form a variety of different methods. Ideally teachers can use sign, writing, mime, speech, pictures or any other communication method that works. The method of communication should depend upon the needs of the student and the situation. In actual practice, most Total Communication programs use some form of Simultaneous Communication. Children are encouraged to work on speech and listening skills. A benefit of Total Communication is that it can provide a “safety net” for children who have difficulty following oral methods by using English that is supported by sign. It also allows the child some form of expressive communication. One of the big disadvantages associated with Total Communication is that it tends to limit a child’s language experience. Children are never exposed to complex English or complex ASL. Simplyfying both languages prevents children from attaining fluency in either language. LearningEnvironments There are a number of different learning environments that can exist for a deaf child. The availability of these environments is dependent on locality. In many cases, if the appropriate setting is not available, parents may need to deal with the local school authorities.
Residential Schools For The Deaf Traditionally, residential schools have had a long and venerable history in this country. Most deaf children who attend them eventually learn SL. Residential school enrollment has decreased due to two major factors. Since mainstreaming became an option for many children, parents began sending their children to local schools. The population of deaf children has decreased due to vaccinations like the rubella vaccination. As a result, a number of schools have closed. For the most part, the schools that remain open have opened Day School programs. In addition, many of these schools have needed to take in children with multiple handicaps in order to keep their doors open. There are real advantages to residential schools. The schools are designed with the needs of deaf students in mind. Some of the schools have excellent programs. The opportunity for peer interaction is available, as are extracurricular activities like boy scouts and after school clubs. The students are involved in student government, peer study-groups, volunteer activities in the community at large, sports and all kinds of extra-curricular activities. A child who lives in a locality where they are the only deaf person for miles in any direction is able to meet other deaf children. Deaf children have adult Deaf role models. Educators and parents who advocate for the availability option point out that the presence of deaf adults who are welleducated and fluent in sign language has a significant long-term impact on young deaf children’s educational and personal well-being. The children are exposed to the cultural values of the Deaf community and to the language of the Deaf, SL. There are some real disadvantages as well. Many families are not comfortable sending young children away to school. Some families feel that the home and family is the best environment for any child. Many parents feel that the act of sending their child to residential school isolates the child from the family. Finally, there is the issue of the quality of the education itself. Education quality varies from school to school (Zapien 1998). Oral Day School/Sign Day School The Day School placement is one of the best compromises between the residential school and mainstreaming. Children can remain at home and are still able to take advantage of a school that is staffed with people who have the special training needed to educate deaf children. The same kinds of programs and accommodations found in the residential schools can be found in the Day School placement. The disadvantage to Day School placement is availability. Day Schools are found as a part of the Residential School programs. They are also found in metropolitan areas. If a parent’s job requires him to move to a remote area, a Day School program may not be an option.
Early Intervention/Preschool Programs These programs tend to the needs of children ranging in age from birth to four years. Public schools, local health and human services departments, residential schools and private organizations can run early intervention programs. Some schools have programs that use the services of itinerant teachers. One professional teacher cautioned parents to realize that teachers who deal with children age birth through three are often have a general special education degree. The focus of these programs is preparation. Preschool is important because if helps children learn how to function socially and within the family. The preschool program emphasizes the following skills: language development, parent-child communication and social skills. These programs also teach strategies for enhancing the child’s development, signing skills and speech training. These communication and coping strategies are important as the children enter kindergarten (Zapien 1998). Mainstreaming and Inclusion Mainstreaming is a placement option in which children go to regular classes and they also go to some special education classes. These classes are called resource classes and are taught by specially trained teachers. Inclusion is a placement option in which the children are totally involved in all aspects of public education. Partial mainstreaming is a placement option in which children spend a portion of the day at the residential or day school and part of the day in public school. Mainstreaming and Inclusion are supposed to allow deaf children access to regular education. One common complaint about the Mainstream setting is that the children are only in the regular classrooms for non-core subjects such as Physical Education and Art. The children generally learn their core subjects in the Resource Room. The act of placing a child in a Resource Room for a portion of the day can generate challenges. This dual learning environment can produce similar stigmas to those found in earlier generations when children had to leave the classroom for remedial education. In a dual environment, social integration comes into play. Children that are not a part of the classroom for a significant portion of the day have difficulty becoming integrated with their peers. Academic achievement also seems to be lower. Partial Mainstreaming between two different schools requires commuting time that breaks up the school day. This wastes learning time. Students mainstreamed for 5-10 hours a week do consistently worse than students mainstreamed for 16 hours a week. The key is to identify the
right kind of program for the child in the first place and closely monitor academic and social progress for signs of the programs appropriateness or inappropriateness. Parents who choose Mainstream or Inclusion environments need to be aware that most children require support services if they have more severe losses. These services include notetakers, well-trained transliterators and interpreters. The children may also require preferential seating so that they can clearly see the teacher. Many schools provide interpreters and transliterators, however, it is not uncommon for schools to secure the services of interpreters and transliterators that do not have appropriate qualifications. Parents need to intercede on behalf of their child if the interpreter or transliterator is not doing an adequate job. A good interpreter or transliterator faithfully communicates all that is said by the teachers and students. They also give the child access to some of the environmental sounds that occur during the interpreting session. Children need notetakers in the upper grades because they cannot look down to write while looking at the same time at the teacher or at the demonstration. Interpretation within the Mainstream or Inclusion environment can be viewed from more than one angle. On the one hand, the interpreter can act as a link to classroom and all that is within it. Classroom situations are usually rife with group discussions. The presence of an interpreter can be useful in these situations, since group discussions are particularly difficult for most deaf individuals to follow. Interpreters, however, are not educators. If a child is having difficulty with a concept, the child/teacher pair must always go through a third party. On the other hand, deaf children are often isolated from their peers, even with an interpreter. The free and easy communication that occurs between children is less likely to happen between a deaf child and his hearing peers, even with an interpreter. The learning that comes from that social interaction is also less likely to occur. A child that is in a Mainstream or Inclusion environment without the services of an interpreter or transliterator has greater challenges. Children that do not have support services miss out on most, if not all of group discussions. They miss out on incidental learning from their peers and as a result they can feel isolated from the others. Many teachers pace the floor or face the chalkboard during class. Children that rely on speechreading may have difficulty understanding a moving target or no target at all. Deaf adult respondents frequently mentioned the inability to understand teachers and classroom isolation as difficulties that they needed to contend with during their school years. The negative aspects are frustrating feelings of isolation and lack of access communication-wise.
There are positive aspects to Mainstreaming and Inclusion. A child that is in these types of environments has the opportunity to meet and interact with hearing peers. They are also exposed to a regular curriculum. These children often learn how to be self-starters. They develop excellent study habits that serve them well as adults, often as a direct result of the inability to understand the teacher and the other students (Zapien 1998). Self-Contained Classroom Some public school systems have self-contained classrooms. These classrooms only contain children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The teachers in these classrooms are specially trained in deaf education. The benefit of this kind of classroom is that all the children are using the same form of communication so the issue of peer isolation is addressed. The teacher also uses some form of sign supported speech unless the school has an oral program. This addresses the issue of using a third party to communicate. The child can go to a school relatively close to home, yet will have some of the same advantages as the oral or residential school. Since the self-contained classrooms are located in regular public schools, the special visual needs of the deaf students are not usually taken into consideration. Special items such as text telephone access, visual-paging systems, carpeting in classrooms and emergency flashers may not be available. Children that wish to take part in after-school activities may not find them as accessible as they would in a residential school environment due to communication barriers (Zapien 1998). Homeschool Environment Many times parents and school districts cannot agree on the issue of “appropriate” education. When this occurs, some parents opt to homeschool their children. Homeschooling is currently a popular alternative to traditional methods. An impressive number of parents that have deaf children have decided to either homeschool full-time, or homeschool part-time as a supplement to regular education. Benefits of homeschool education include clear communication, one-on-one attention, and teaching methods that are adapted to the child’s educational needs and learning style. In addition, the child can work at his own pace and the parents can choose a communication system that works for their child. Children that are under an IEP may receive support services from the government. However, some parents do not choose this option and prefer to hire their own specialists. Schools are not open to the idea of homeschooling and recommend against it. Yet parents willing to put in the time and effort to create a quality homeschool
program often succeed where school systems fail because the program can be tailored to the child’s needs. When homeschooling supplements
astounding. Homeschoolers handle the issue of peer socialization through homeschool networks and other activities that include groups of children (Zapien 1998). CochlearImplant The cochlear implant is not an educational option, but rather a very controversial surgery which may affect the educational option of choice. Children who have this surgery normally need special auditory training to teach them how use the information that they are receiving from the implant. Sometimes Cued Speech is used to help the children learn to discriminate which sound is which. In any case, there is a need for specialized teacher training, since most deaf education teachers are trained to use hearing aids and cochlear implants work quite differently. A cochlear implant will not make a child hearing. The cochlear implant seems to work best with very young children and with adults who have gone deaf later in life. A cochlear implant, as of this writing is a 24 channel digital processor. It is an electronic device that bypasses damaged parts of the inner ear to stimulate remaining auditory nerve fibers. Parts of the device are placed under the skin in a surgical procedure. The implants are not always successful and are highly controversial, especially when children are involved. There is also some degree of risk involved. People who want this implant must undergo an intensive screening process. When the implant works well, the results can be nearly miraculous. Parents should thoroughly research all sides of this issue using all the resources at their disposal and then make their own decision based on the facts at hand (Zapien 1998). There is a saying about taking a walk in a minefield. It is advisable to walk where others have already been so that one may be assured safe passage. Deaf education and all its attendant issues are like the minefield in the saying. Fortunately, deaf adults and their parents have walked through the minefield. Most have gotten to the other side in relative safety. As a group, they all strongly suggested that hearing parents talk to deaf adults. All encouraged parents to love and accept their deaf children for who they are. Most of the adults would have preferred it if their families had signed and they suggested exposing children to adult role models. All the adult respondents encouraged parents to read to their children as much as possible.
Almost everyone stressed that parents need to research the available information, seek early intervention (the earlier, the better) and find a communication method that works for the family. A number of deaf adults suggested a positive and patient attitude towards the child. There is a suggestion that parents make sure that their deaf children are exposed to both speech and sign. Some parents should expect proper behavior from their deaf children and that they need to teach them good manners. Parents need to remember a few core points. First, a deaf or hard-of-hearing child is a precious gift – as any other child born in the world – and an individual. Since children are individuals, they need a wide variety of educational options to choose from. A method that works perfectly for one child will inappropriate for another. The ultimate goal should be good communication, social skills and an educational background that will allow the child to become independent. Parents and professionals need to remember to be flexible. It might take some time to find the right method or combination of methods. All resources should be checked. Finally, once a parent has collected all the information needed, they should make their own decision based on the facts at hand and on the unique needs of their child and family (Zapien 1998).
PART 2: Education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children in some countries
1. The beginning The history of educating deaf people dates back long before Thomas H. Gallaudet and Alexander G. Bell squared off at the end of the 19th Century. Each of these men believed that deaf people could and should be educated, but each differed in how to accomplish that feat. However, for most of recorded history, deaf people were treated as nothing more than animals. Aristotle believed that because deaf people did not speak the superior Greek language, they could not be civilized. Christianity perpetuated the inhumane treatment of deaf people because they were believed to be punished by God. In the 1500's, Spanish monks, who used signs to communicate within their vows of silence, were employed to instruct the deaf sons of the Spanish nobility. The primary goal was to teach deaf students how to read and write, but there was also a desire to have them learn to speak. The monks believed that using signs and voice made communication between both parties easier.
The most important development that emerged from the Spanish attempts at educating deaf people was that it was seen as an attainable and worthy goal. Consequently, deaf people all over Europe began receiving educational instruction. Two noteworthy educational projects were those of Samuel Heinicke and Abbe Charles Michael de L'Épée. Heinicke opened a school in Germany. His method of instruction was through spoken language. Students learned to mimic his sounds if they had some residual hearing, or just to mimic his mouth movements. Épée opened a school in Paris that utilized manual gestures. He observed that the gestures made by deaf people had specific meanings and that by learning and using the same gestures, the gestures in fact became signs. Thus, Épée is credited as the Father of Sign Language. Although Heinicke's oral method and Épée's manual method are decisively conflicting, the action of each to establish a school for deaf education contributed to the creation of deaf communities (Brief history of deaf education, 2011).
2. Denmark In 1991 Denmark officially amended its Deaf education policy to ensure sign language was given equal status as a language and was used as the main method of teaching in schools for the deaf. Achievements: In 1970, only a fraction of deaf 16-18 year-olds performed equal to or above hearing students five or six years younger than them. After adopting the bilingual and bicultural approach deaf students aged 11 to 12 are almost on a par with hearing children their own age. Nearly all parents of profoundly deaf children choose the bilingual and bicultural approach and most join sign language classes as soon as their child is diagnosed. Education: · Parents can choose a combination of communication methods best suited to their child's education needs. · Deaf schools: Follow the mainstream curriculum; the subject matter and number of classes are the same. Deaf teachers are prominent. · Mainstream schools: It is common for either an assistant teacher or a sign interpreter to be on hand in classes where there are deaf students. · Residential schools: One teacher per two or three deaf children · University: Open on an equal basis to deaf students. Sign interpreters are provided for lectures and class discussions.
· Denmark also has research schools studying and teaching Danish sign language (Biggs, 2004). 3. China The bilingual and bicultural (bi-bi) approach first gained momentum in Western Europe and the US in the mid-1980s. It developed out of the frustrations at the limited success of oral training in providing deaf children with a comprehensive education that allows them to make a valuable and equal contribution to society. Bi-lingualism means the use and knowledge of two languages - in the case of deaf Chinese children, sign language and written Chinese - but it does not predefine fluency in either language as this will depend on the child’s capability and their hearing ability as time goes on. It does not preclude oral language but again, this is dependent on the child's residual hearing, and access to hearing aids. The priority of bi-bi is to introduce at the earliest stage the language which a child can most easily learn; in the case of deaf children, who have been shown to be visual rather than aural learners, this is sign language. A second language, the written language, is gradually introduced with sign language used to explain grammar, syntax and abstract concepts (Biggs, 2004). The bicultural aspect focuses on the culture of the Deaf, their distinct characteristics and provides children with Deaf role models to ensure they develop a positive and healthy self identity. But the approach also teaches children about the culture of the hearing world to enable them to understand and interact in both worlds. Deaf teachers are a valued and instrumental part of the project, providing both role models and reassurance to the children of their equal status in society. At the same time hearing teachers offer children an insight into hearing culture, and the presence of both teachers will expose them to different forms of communication: some people communicate with their mouths and others with their hands. As well as the UNICEF-supported project in Tianjin, there are two other similar projects in China. One in Nanjing with the support of the Amnity Foundation and one in Kunming supported by Save the Children UK (Biggs, 2004).
4. USA The education of deaf children in America did not commence until the early 19th century. The first formalized education offered to deaf children began in 1817 at the Connecticut Asylum for the Education or Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons. Thomas H. Gallaudet and
Laurent Clerc, a deaf Frenchman who was a student of Épée, chose to use the manual method to educate the deaf students. This was done because sign language was quickly mastered by persons unfamiliar with written or spoken language. Because Manualism, the exclusive use of sign language to provide instruction, was the first method to be used in America, it was difficult to gain support for schools that taught via spoken language and speech reading. However, two important events shifted the popular opinion. The first was the Milan Congress and the second was the Industrial Revolution. The Milan Congress adopted the position of Oralism, which held that speech was superior to signs in instructing deaf people. The American delegation cast the only dissenting opinion, but it was only a matter of time before Oralism spread like wildfire on this side of the Atlantic as well. The catalyst for this was the Industrial Revolution and its subsequent influx of immigrants into the United States. National leaders were disturbed by the fact that these immigrants congregated in neighborhoods and continued speaking their native tongue. Horace Mann's "Common School" was started to train all children in the English language and American culture. Included in this project were children who deaf. Mann had visited Germany and was impressed with the Oral method. The main reason deaf students should learn to speak, advocates believed, was so that they would be normal. Parents supported Oralism because it meant their deaf children would be able to fit in, thus avoiding ridicule and mistreatment. The Deaf community did not sit idly by as the sign language that allowed them to communicate freely with one another was banned in most schools. Educators who were deaf led efforts to establish a National Association of the Deaf (NAD) which advocated the use of sign language. Deaf students continued to use sign language in informal interactions. Oralism continued to be the dominant instructional philosophy until the 1960's when Congress received a report that it was a "dismal failure"; for generations of deaf students Oralism was devastating. The academic achievement of deaf students had not improved and the pressure not to use the manual language that came naturally was emotionally damaging. To further weaken the Oralist position, in 1960, William Stokoe published findings that defended the ASL as a true language. Thus, the gestures that were being used between deaf people were found to have meaning, syntax and sequence. ASL was a valid language, just as French or Spanish. It could be used to express feelings and ideas and to instruct deaf students. Hearing educators, who were by now in control of most schools for the deaf, were reluctant to accept ASL as an equivalent to English. In the 1970's, deaf education programs, feeling the growing opposition to Oralism, began using manual gestures again. To claim that these
programs were now advocating the use of sign language is misleading because it was not ASL. Systems such as Cued Speech and Manually Coded English (MCE) merely translated English into sign. As educators of deaf students debated the method of instruction, the country was becoming more concerned with the fact that students with disabilities were being discriminated against and placed into segregated settings. Advocates for students with disabilities argued that these settings cheated students of their right to an appropriate education. In 1975, Public Law 94142 was passed to protect the rights of students with disabilities, including deaf students (Brief history of deaf education, 2011). By 2003, over 35 of 50 states officially recognized American Sign Language as a language. Research on ASL is regularly published in scholarly journals. Hundreds of organizations offer advice, information and access to services for the Deaf. Numerous conferences occur in areas of ASL, Deaf Cultural Studies and ASL Literature. Deaf people feature in the films, on TV shows and are successful professionals. Educational Achievements: Classes in sign language, Deaf culture, history, art and literature are available both in Deaf and mainstream schools and are open to everyone. The Deaf are granted access to universities, jobs and all public facilities through the presence of competent sign language interpreters. The Deaf rights movement gained world wide attention when in the late 1980s students at a Deaf University, Gallaudet, protested against the employment of yet another hearing president to represent them. Today, as well as a Deaf president, more than half of the members on Gallaudet’s board are deaf as are many of those who teach and work in the administration. And nearly everyone on campus is bilingual and knows how to sign (Biggs, 2004).
5. United Kingdom In March of 2003, the British government recognized British Sign Language as an official language and granted 1.5 million pounds to promote BSL in schools, the workplace and society. The projects include online training materials, a family sign language curriculum and an interactive awareness raising DVD. Bilingual education is gradually becoming a valid option for more deaf children. Achievements: Local education authorities are now required to provide or pay for interpreting services in mainstream schools for deaf children. The government is also required to pay for an interpreter or other human aid to assist a Deaf adult in finding a job, and for use while at work, in circumstances such as meetings, training courses or conferences, and for interpreting
phone calls. Special equipment to enable Deaf people to carry out a job, including computer hardware and software, telephone aids, text-phones, mobile phones, videophones, are also available free of charge. Companies such as Toyota Motor Corp employ a number of deaf people and ensure they have competent BSL interpreters, vibrating pagers and minicom systems in order to communicate. For example, the Tate Modern art gallery in London provides the deaf and hard of hearing with hand held computers that show BSL videos explaining certain collections (Biggs, 2004).
6. Japan The history of advocacy for sign language in deaf education is rather brief in Japan. In 1983, an Osaka group initiated a movement to urge the use of sign language in deaf schools. At that time it was a local campaign and was somewhat considered a "protruding nail to be hammered down" even in deaf education circles and deaf affirmative action groups. The proposal they came up with was specific. They wanted Japanese Sign Language installed as a subject in the curriculum of deaf education. They assumed that by learning sign language as a subject children would be introduced to various aspects of deaf culture embedded in their language. They did not intend to ask for sign language to be employed as a medium of instruction in deaf school, because they thought that the situation was not ripe to ask for that much. Yet, by demanding that their language and culture be taught at school, the Osaka association of the hearing impaired wished to reject an oralist way of life relentlessly forced upon them. They professed that they would not compel themselves to adjust to the hearing world any more. In an attempt to gain official support, the Osaka deaf group organized a series of meetings with representatives from local Boards of Education and schools for deaf children. The deaf tried to persuade the hearing of the inadequacy of the educational system supposed to be made for their benefit. They stressed again and again that they wanted to learn about sign language because that was their indispensable means of social communication in the deaf community. Although this initiative did not bear fruit soon, it stimulated similar drives in many deaf advocacy groups in many localities. The Japanese Federation of the Deaf adopted the theme as its slogan and organized a national campaign to get the Ministry of Education involved in initiating improved deaf education practice in Japan (Honna and Kato, 2003). The same authors claim that informed of the developments in Sweden and Denmark, Japanese deaf specialists became more critical than before of the traditional educational practice of hearing impaired children, and organized discussion and study meetings nation-wide focused
on bilingual education. At these meetings attended by deaf school teachers, parents of deaf children, and professors of education and linguistics, a wide range of relevant theoretical aspects of language acquisition was explored and shared. Inspired by these new winds, the Japanese Sign Language Research Institute (sponsored by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf) initiated a comprehensive research project on deaf education. The project was intended to study means of early sign language instruction. Thus far, textbooks were prepared and positive results were reported. As part of the project, textbooks of spoken Japanese used at deaf schools are translated into sign language, some of which are being used experimentally at some schools for hearing impaired children. The research fellows are now working on guidelines for effective instruction while planning to feed back results of classroom activity into improved sign language instruction of Japanese reading and writing. Thus, indications are that educational environments of deaf children have a better chance of improvement, with an increasing interest in bilingual and bicultural education witnessed at deaf schools. Currently more than ten deaf schools have introduced sign language into their kindergarten classrooms, with more expected to follow suit at high speed in the very near future. Furthermore, "free schools" for deaf children are being established throughout the country, where sign language is the main means of instruction and communication. Established in 1999, Tatsunoko Gakuen (School of Dragon Kids) is the first one of this kind, staffed by deaf personnel and taught by deaf teachers. Although classes are organized only once a month at the time of this writing, deaf children are encouraged to move their hands freely and sign their own symbols, the way hearing children are invited to coo and later form one word or twoword sentences. Preparing to teach reading and writing in sign language, those schools also offer programs for hearing parents with deaf children.
7. India Though a multitude of religions flourish in South Asia, India and Nepal both have strong historical and cultural ties to Hinduism, which is the majority religion for both countries. India is a birthplace of Hinduism and Nepal is the world’s only constitutionally Hindu nation. Therefore, an assessment of the ancient Hindu traditions and texts relatd to deafness may serve to shed some light on the way that deaf people have been treated in these two countries. In South Asia, as in the rest of the world, societal attitudes about the nature of deafness and
the mental and moral characteristics of deaf people play a large role in determining the educational and vocational opportunities available to the deaf (Dennis, 2005). The same author claims that not all of the textual references to the causes of deafness are religiuos in nature, in Sisruta’s Compendium, one of the ancient medicat texts that formed the basis for the homeopathic science of Ayurveda, deafness is explained in purely physiological terms. Several points are interesting in the text mentioned. First, this is the first attempt in Hindu literature to explain a purely physical cause of deafness, rather than a karmic one. The causes of deafness and muteness are also listed separately, demonstrating an understanding of the fact that these two conditions are not inseparable, though throughout the centuries “deaf and dumb” has often been understood as one word. Finally, though treatments and cures are prescribed for other ills, Sisruta suggests no cure for deafness, perhaps implying that the condition should be accepted as incurable. Deaf education in India should be reviewed in two major periods – India prior the Independence and India after the Independence.
8. South Africa There are many factors affecting Deaf education, trends in Deaf education, and the views of a Deaf graduate. The history of Deaf education in South Africa is influenced by apartheid, which characterized the country from the 1940s. During apartheid, segregation was based on race and culture. This situation affected both language development and access to education by Deaf people. Factors Affecting Deaf Education Several factors negatively and positively affect the education of Deaf and hard of hearing learners. These factors include, among others, the shortage of Deaf role models for Deaf learners, South African Sign Language (SASL) not being recognized as a Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT), and only a few teachers being fluent in SASL. Shortage of Deaf Role Models for Deaf Learners The Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA) records 500,000 Deaf people as users of SASL. Due to Deaf learners’ exclusion from equal education opportunities for many years, one out of three Deaf people is functionally illiterate (DeafSA, 2006). As a result of poor education or no education at all, Deaf South African adults are not educated good enough (Magongwa, 2010).
9. Australia Australia is a nation of six federated states and two territories, where each state or territory is responsible for its education system, including matters of structure, policy, funding, curriculum and practice. While there are agreed national curriculum “key learning areas” and
“common goals for Australian schools”, there are no set national curriculum statements and limited direction to schools and schools’ authorities about the nature of education services for students with a hearing loss. The national government has a Disability Discrimination Bill (1992) and each state has separate Anti-Discrimination legislation (proclaimed in various states from 1978 to 1992). These laws are built around principles of social justice, including access, participation, and equity of outcome. They designed to be largely educative and preventative in focus, but necessarily are protective of the rights of people with a disability or cultural difference against forms of discrimination. Australia is required to comply with the UN International Convention of the Rights of the Child and has significant national and states’ policies in the area of “multiculturalism” and a National Language Policy that include the recognition of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) as a community language and recognition of the status of the Deaf Community. Each state can therefore, have somewhat different objectives, policies, systems and practices reflected in its education systems, school structures and curricula. These differences are not, however, substantial and usually relate to variations in grade sequences, school commencement ages, curriculum outlines, tertiary entrance assessment procedures and the balance between independent and government schools. Schools are organised into preschools (usually for 4 to 5 year-old children), primary schools (usually of 7 grades up to 12 years of age) and secondary/high schools (usually of 5 grades up to 17 years of age). All these levels are free and compulsory in the state systems. Postsecondary options include technical/community colleges, universities and private colleges. There are different proportions of private or independent schools in Australian states, but in the special school or special education sector these are relatively few in number and usually limited to schools supported by private associations, foundations or church authorities. Some are dedicated to programs for deaf students. Deaf students can participate at all levels in regular schools and post-school institutions or may be enrolled in special schools or in special education units (with one or more separate classes) that are part of regular schools. Deaf students who are in special schools or special classes are usually those “ascertained” with the highest support needs, particularly for communication, or who may have an additional sensory, developmental, intellectual or behavioural disability. Those in the regular school “units” for deaf students will usually be taught daily with other deaf children by teachers of the deaf, with opportunities to join regular classes where their capabilities are judged to allow. Those who are placed fulltime in a regular school classes receive varying levels of specialist support from itinerant teachers of the deaf
and specialist aides. They will usually be the only deaf student in their school. There are also early intervention/preschool programs specifically for deaf students in each state. The limited number of independent programs for deaf students mainly consists of schools with an auditory-oral or auditory-verbal approach to communication and involving inclusion in regular classes, and those using Auslan in bilingual programs. This latter school type has been established in recent years in most states for parents who wish their children to be instructed in Auslan, with English learned as a second (often only as a written) language. Typically, these are small programs and mostly involve deaf children of deaf parents, but also include some deaf students from hearing families and some hearing children from deaf families. The establishment of some independent programs adopting a strict regime of auditory-verbal “therapy” for parents and deaf children has been a notable feature of post-implantation provision in many states. These programs generally impose a strict aural regime and do not accept the use of any signed communication at home or at school. Currently therefore, the state deaf units, or the very few remaining special schools for deaf students, use either a bilingual/bicultural program (Auslan/English) or Australasian Signed English (a sign system developed to represent the morphology of spoken English and presented by teachers in a Simultaneous Communication mode. Recent research has shown that the substantial majority of deaf and hard of hearing students (that is, all Australian students with a hearing loss that is moderate or greater in level as defined by Australian Hearing Services) in Australia are placed in regular classes. Across states and territories, 83% of these deaf and hard of hearing students (37% profoundly deaf, i.e., average better-ear hearing loss greater than 91 dB) were in orally- communicating regular school classes, receiving some support from a visiting teacher of the deaf, according to their determined needs. This is considered to be a very high rate of general classes placement by world standards. In summary, Australia’s services for students with a hearing loss are provided by individual states. The states develop policies and procedures that they believe respond to community expectations and are within their own philosophical and social interpretations of “inclusion” – a term that is currently described, with some variation, in the policies of these state authorities. These policies and procedures, while recognizing the cultural and linguistic characteristics of “Deafness”, are largely directed at regular school placement and learning support in mainly auditory-oral communication settings (Hyde, Ohna and Hjudstad, 2004).
10. Norway Norway’s current ideology of inclusive education can be traced back to the 1960s and best understood in the context of broader historical and social changes to its welfare state (Flem & Keller, 2000; Vislie, 1995). The reorganization of special education began late in the 1960s and equality, integration, normalisation, participation and decentralisation were important principles of this reorganization. New laws established the ideology of “integration” and what was called “adjusted” education. In 1975 the Integration Act incorporated the Act of 1951 relating to provision of special schools and specific regulations for the administration of special education were eliminated (Flem & Keller, 2000). In 1992, the former state schools for special education were developed into a system of 20 regional Resource Centres. These centres arrange courses for parents and teachers and provide guidance and counseling, as well as being involved in the assessment of students with special needs. The main objective of the Centres is to support local services in municipalities and schools. Since 1975, the 435 municipalities have been responsible for the education of all students, who have the right to be educated in their local schools (Dalen, 1994). The Act of Education of 1998, §1-2 emphasises “adjusted” education as a legal right for all students (Act of Education, KUF, 1998). In the national curricula for compulsory education this is explained in the following way: “The compulsory school is based on the principle of one school for all. The compulsory school shall provide equitable and suitably adjusted education for everyone in a coordinated system of schooling based on the same curriculum.” (KUF, 1996, p. 56). Adjusted education is presented as, “All pupils, including those with special difficulties or special abilities in certain areas, must be given challenges corresponding to their abilities. If all pupils are to receive schooling of equal value, individual adaptation is essential” (KUF, 1996, p. 58). The 1998 Act of Education introduced 10 years compulsory education. Primary and secondary schools cover 10 years (from six-15 years of age) and students who have completed compulsory education have the right to three years’ full-time upper secondary education. Postsecondary (vocational and higher education) includes four universities and a range of colleges. The national discussion of integration and inclusion focused on the concept of “the student’s own environment”. Two opposite interpretations were highlighted, one emphasising the student’s “own environment” as being the local municipality school and the neighbourhood as “home”, the other emphasising “own environment” as a place where there was access to and participation with other (deaf) pupils and adults using Norwegian Sign Language (NSL).
Between 1992 and 1997 several national initiatives were taken that had a significant impact on education of deaf students within a “school for all” concept. Students who had acquired NSL as their first language, were given the right to education through the medium of the sign language (§2-6 Act of Education, KUF, 1998). Further, the National Curriculum for the 10year compulsory education (KUF, 1996), introduced four new syllabi for students educated according to §2-6: Norwegian Sign Language, Norwegian for deaf pupils, English for deaf pupils, and Drama and Rhythmics for deaf pupils. The important difference between the three latter syllabi and the regular syllabi in Norwegian, English and Music being that the oral aspects, involving sound and speech, are replaced with suitably adapted signed forms (KUF, 1998, p. 11). With the introduction of these policies, other initiatives were taken to enhance the status and the competence of NSL use in schools and in families with deaf children. To meet regular teachers’ needs for competence a program in NSL was developed at some universities and university colleges. Teachers who are educating deaf students according to §2-6, must have competence in NSL at the level equivalent to one half year of full time study. A similar program in sign language was established for hearing parents with deaf children. The parents are entitled to 40 weeks training in NSL through the first 16 years of the child’s life. While the legislation gives all students in Norway the right to attend a school in their neighbourhood (Skarbrevik, 2001), it also gives deaf students right to education through the medium of NSL. The student’s level of hearing impairment, whether moderate, severe, or profound hearing loss does not have any impact on the legal right to education under §2-6 in the Act of Education. However, deaf students do not have a legal right to education within a school for the deaf. When the former state schools for special education in 1992 were developed into regional resource centres they were given three primary roles: (i) offering long term and short term education for groups of deaf children, based on a bilingual approach, (ii) offering on-campus and off-campus consultative services for local educational institutions with deaf- and hard-of-hearing students, and (iii) offering programs in NSL for hearing parents with deaf children. In summary, the education of deaf students in Norway has become more complex in recent decades. First, education of deaf students is influenced by national policies, national curricula and changing practices in education in general. Second, when deaf students enter regular municipality schools, their legal right to access to NSL needs to be supported. The regional resource centre for the deaf students is required to co-operate with municipality schools in offering education and professional development in and about NSL. Students following the
national syllabi for the deaf have to relate to two different schools: the local municipality school and the school at a Resource Centre for deaf students. In 2001/2002 there were nearly 350 students in compulsory education (6-16 years) following the syllabi for deaf in Norway. Approximately one-third of these students are educated at their local municipality school, which means that they may belong to a class as the only student using NSL. The remaining two-thirds are educated at special schools or classes for deaf students, either within a regular municipality school or at a resource centre for the hearing impaired. There are, of course, other students with degrees of hearing loss in regular classes in municipality schools who communicate in auditory-oral modes and receive some learning and communication support, but not normally from teachers of the deaf. The number of these students is significantly less than the number of students following the syllabi for deaf. When a student is educated according to the syllabi for the deaf, the school receives additional teacher resources to accommodate the need for communication with NSL. These resources can be used to provide two teachers for a classroom or to lower the class teacher-to-pupil ratio with a smaller class size. These decisions are made at regional and school levels according to their traditions, values and objectives (Hyde, Ohna and Hjudstad, 2004).
PART 3: Education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Bulgaria
1. The beginning The first data about education and social care for children with disabilities in Bulgaria date back to the end of the ninth and the beginning of the tenth century. In his works “Shestodnev” and “Nebesa”, Joan Exarch mentions healing children with different problems. The same author found notes from the XIV century about the “quick and complete healing of blind, ill and deaf” in King Ivan Alexander’s gospel (Joan Exarch 1981, pp 36-38). Mutafov claims that St. Kliment Ohridski, who lived in the ninth to the tenth centuries (b. 840 – d. 916), is the founder of Bulgarian special pedagogy for healing and teaching people with different problems including deafness (1992, pp 33-34). In addition, there is data from a prominent Russian special educator, A. I. Dyachkov, who discovered information on the social education of deaf children in Bulgaria in the tenth century (Dyachkov, A. I., 1961, p 12). During the same period, from the ninth to the tenth century, St. Ivan Rilski (b. 876 – d. 946), another Bulgarian saint, worked with disabled people. In “Ivan Rilski’s Passional” by Evtimij Turnovski, he writes that “many people came to him with their ill relatives and they went back home healthy because of his prayers” (Milachkov, 2000, p. 11).
In 1878, twenty years after the end of the five-century long period of Ottoman slavery of the Bulgarian people, the idea of systematic education for children with hearing loss emerged. Ferdinand Urbich, а German teacher of deaf pupils, put this idea into practice. He established the first private school for the deaf in Sofia in April 1898. He came to Bulgaria a year earlier to start learning Bulgarian and to arrange the procedure for opening the school. In the beginning, Urbich taught 12 pupils using Samuel Heinicke’s oral method, which he later revised (e.g. using writing and spontaneous/natural mimics, not using breathing and articulation exercises, etc.). In September 1906, the private school for the deaf was transformed) into the State Institute for the Deaf and Ferdinand Urbich was the first principal of a school for the deaf in Bulgaria. The Ministry of Education appointed Bulgarian teachers to assist him in his work. Urbich trained the teachers to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing pupils. He worked in Bulgaria for 18 years founding the base of pedagogy for the deaf together with his Bulgarian assistants. He trained the first teachers of the deaf, discussed ideas about making books for the deaf pupils, and taught them stenography (Ivanov, 1995, pp 6465). In 1911 and in 1924, two other schools for the deaf were established, one in Varna and the other in Plovdiv. By 9 September 1944, when the Communist regime came to reign, there were three special schools for the deaf in Bulgaria. Approximately 200-250 pupils were educated in the schools which accounted for 14 % of all pupils with hearing loss in the country. The main teaching focus at the special schools was on articulation and speech. There were neither teaching curricula, nor special books for teaching the deaf. Deaf teacher training was done locally, for example at the institutes, at the schools, or through self-education. Later there were courses for these specialists. In 1959, Sofia University opened a unique teacher’s education programme of pedagogy for the deaf. In 1949, the analytic-synthetic method for teaching deaf children reading and speaking was widely used. A few years later fingerspelling became part of the teaching methods at the special schools for the deaf. In addition, a new school subject was included, subject-practical activity, in which all activities were accompanied with speech. After 9 September 1944, the schools in Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv were moved to buildings specifically designed for the purpose of teaching deaf pupils. In 1952, the first books for deaf pupils were published and most of the matters relating to deaf pupils, as part of the bigger group of pupils with special needs, were included in a law. In order to achieve the best level of education for pupils with multiple disorders (deaf and mentally handicapped), a school for these pupils was built in Muglizh. In 1962, a special school for hard-of-hearing pupils was
established in Sofia. In 1951, the first compulsory curricula for all special schools for the deaf were created (Ivanov, 1995, pp 84-86). It was possible to diagnose children with hearing loss in audiological offices in some of the special schools or in hospitals. There were services for early intervention of children with hearing loss located in the regional towns and in Bulgaria’s capital city. Bigger towns tend to offer more services for the deaf and hard of hearing people than smaller towns. In order for their child to receive the best treatment, some families had to move from smaller towns to bigger ones (Baltadzhieva, 2000, pp 66 – 69).
2. Current situation In Bulgaria pupils with disabilities - and particularly those with impaired hearing - are educated in special and in mainstream schools. There is a positive change of attitudes towards mainstreaming children with hearing loss in the recent years. Mainstreamschools There are two education options for deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Bulgaria. They can either be taught in a special school for the deaf, or in a mainstream school. The latter can be realized by using different integration models. Total integration is the most common model for the inclusion of a deaf child. There have been several attempts of practicing integration where a class of deaf children is educated in a mainstream school but this model of integration is no longer very popular. It was only implemented in a few towns and in Sofia. In the past 10 years there was no system or approach for integrating a child with hearing loss. It was usually the parents’ decision to integrate their child. However, nowadays there are strict regulations to be followed in order to cover the state requirements of mainstreaming pupils of any category of disability, including children with hearing loss. Currently, many universities organize courses for teachers to re-qualify their original pedagogical specialty (e.g. if they are primary level teachers they can enroll in such a course and get an additional qualification in teaching children with special needs). This allows them to qualify as “resource teachers”. There are resource centres in 28 towns in Bulgaria where specialists work with all mainstreamed children. They assist the school teacher in order to ensure that the children with hearing loss meet state requirements for their age and/or grade. If this is not possible, the specialists prepare an individual curriculum, which is a “teaching plan” for that particular child. The individual curriculum is developed by a team of specialists. The curriculum aims at reaching the pupil’s full potential during their education. The
curriculum could be designed for different periods of time; however, it is usually planned for one academic year. It is a great challenge for mainstream teachers to educate pupils with hearing loss. There are different Bulgarian Sign Language dictionaries that are specialized for specific school subjects in order to assist mainstream and special education school teachers. There are also several computer teaching strategies that have been put into practice in recent years. They are used in mainstream schools as well as in special schools for the deaf. The first computer teaching strategy for the special needs of Bulgarian deaf and hard-ofhearing English learners has been developed. The multimedia teaching strategy, English for people with hearing loss (beginners), consists of 220 phrases presented in four topics which follow the regulations of the state requirements of the Ministry of Education and Science. Each phrase is presented in three colours and is colour-coded: the phrase is blue when it is in English, the same phrase translated into Bulgarian is green and the phonetic transcription with Bulgarian letters (not in the phonetic symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet) is in red. This is necessary because of the specifics of Bulgarian deaf learners. They use three written codes: the Cyrillic alphabet (the first written code they learn), the Roman alphabet (second code) for English, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, which consists of different graphemes and symbols (third written code). So, for deaf beginner learners, especially if they are very young, they have several codes to deal with simultaneously. In addition, they have to translate all of these graphemes into sounds. It is even more difficult when they have to pronounce the letters, words and sentences. In this multimedia teaching programme, English for people with hearing loss (beginners), all phrases are presented in Bulgarian Sign Language and in spoken English with a screen closeup so the ability to lip-read in English can be trained (screenshots 1 and 2).
Screenshot 1. Screenshot from the topic Daily
Screenshot 2. Screenshot from the topic The world
On the right of the screen there are pictures which present the objects or actions that the phrases refer to. They are used so that the action being presented is as authentic as possible (e.g. they are not presented with drawings). The demo version of this programme is available at: http://signlanguage-bg.com/bg/english.html. The second multimedia education programme, First Steps in Physics for the Deaf, was designed to support the teaching of physics and astronomy to deaf pupils. The terminology used in these subjects is too abstract and very difficult for deaf learners, sometimes even for hearing pupils. Education of deaf students in Physics in the mainstream as well as in the special schools has always been accompanied by certain difficulties – lack of appropriate facilities, lack of sign language expertise on part of the teachers, lack of IT equipment and many more. These obstacles do not allow educators to present information correctly and yet accessibly. If that were possible, it would have provided for effective physics classes and would have subsequently provoked in pupils a long term interest in physics. First Steps in Physics for the Deaf programme features articulation and sign but no sound. Users can choose a word from a list of categories (“Step 1”, “Step 2” etc.) from a menu on the left side of the screen. The categories are Alphabets, Digits and Numbers, Pronouns, Energy and Motion. Once selected, the word can be dragged and dropped into the first available blank space on the right (Zamfirov, Saeva, 2008, pp 66 – 80). For example, the word “sun” was taken from the Step 4 list and placed in the first available blank space. By clicking the button “See the word” the user can see the Sign Language interpretation (screenshot 3). The same procedure was done with the word “hearing” from Step 5 (screenshot 4).
Screenshot 3. Screenshot of the word “sun”, Screenshot 4. Screenshot of the word Step 4.
“hearing”, Step 5.
However, this programme is not only intended to offer a simple review of vocabulary but also to allow the correct construction of longer expressions used in physics, which are listed randomly in the categories. This mechanism requires pupils to have a certain language level. If the words are placed in the correct order, the button “see the sentence” will be activated otherwise the button will remain inactive. This way deaf pupils have the opportunity not only to study physics in Bulgarian Sign Language (BgSL) but also to practice correct word order in spoken Bulgarian. This is necessary because BgSL differs from spoken Bulgarian in many aspects. BgSL lacks prepositions and conjugation by gender and number as well as other parts of speech. One sign often serves as a noun, an adjective and a verb (e.g. the same sign is used for “sun”, “shines”, and “bright”) (Zamfirov, 2007, pp 20 – 25). First Steps in Physics for the Deaf is an educational programme with a goal to introduce physics concepts in sign language to both a deaf and hearing audience. Management of the system was performed through Action Script 2.0 which is an object oriented language. The graphic part of the project was developed with Macromedia Flash 8. The programme exists in two versions: one is an .exe file and runs on Windows while the other one is a .swf and can be used via an Internet browser (Mozilla, Internet Explorer). This provides a multi-platform environment of the product. The programme allows the upload of new videos as well as various new informational materials which allows for the expansion of the sentence variety and word combinations. “First Steps in Physics for the Deaf” consists of 219 videos which are pre-coded in a .flv format – Flash video - in order to be streamed so that users can download and watch at the same time. In a module structure all buttons are identical and the parameters are specified in the object – the words and sentences to be loaded in the required field - while the option for a specific word to be selected is defined for each button. The minimum system requirements for running the program are a 233 MHz processor or higher; 200 MB of RAM or more; Windows 98/ME/2000/XP. The presentation features articulation and sign but no sound. Users can choose a word from a list of categories (titled “Step 1”, “Step 2” and so on) from a menu on the left hand side of the window. The categories are: Alphabets, Digits and Numbers, Pronouns, Energy and Motion. Once selected, the word can be dragged to the first open line on the right. For example, the
word “conductor” was taken from the Step 4 list and placed in the first available line. By clicking the button “See word” the user can see the sign language translation. However, the program is intended not only to offer a simple review of vocabulary, but also to allow correct construction of any term in physics, composed by a number of words, which are listed randomly in the categories. This mechanism requires a certain resourcefulness on part of the pupil. If the words are placed in a correct order, the button “See sentence” will be activated. This way deaf pupils have the opportunity not only to study physics in sign language, but also to practice correct word order in Bulgarian. This is necessary because Bulgarian sign language (BgSL) differs from Bulgarian in many aspects. BgSL lacks prepositions and conjugation by gender and number as well as other parts of speech. Often one sign serves as a noun, an adjective and a verb (for example the same sign is used for “sun”, “shines”, “bright”). Words for which more than one sign exists are presented in all options. The words in the categories can make a different number of sentences. Often the diversity of spoken language (the combination of words and punctuation) is not reflected in sign language. While in Bulgarian words can have a different meaning depending on the phrase, the possible combinations in sign are reduced to a minimum. In the „Words” section („See word”) the word and the sign are presented simultaneously (in combination) as the articulation is accompanied by the sign. This is possible because when one linguistic unit is used the word order and the sign order match. In the „Phrases” section („See phrase”) the sentences are presented only in sign language, because the simultaneous usage of the sign and verbal language is impossible – the word order and the sign order do not match. In case the sign language mimics the verbal language, it’s a form of sign language called Sign Exact Bulgarian which however is not the subject of this article. There are five “steps” in the programme. Step 1. Alphabets In this step users can see the three types of alphabets used in Bulgarian sign. Bulgarian single-hand alphabet, Bulgarian two-hand alphabet and International fingerspelling. Step 2. Numbers and Digits
This step presents the numbers and digits of Bulgarian Sign Language. The logic of hearing people would not allow for differences in the visualization of numbers and digits. However, in reality we see that national sign languages do not match. For example „eight” in Bulgarian sign would means „three” in American Sign Language. The numbers and digits are expressed with fingers, wrists and the whole hands. Step 3. Pronouns In this step all the words are visually presented – there are no symbolical gestures. Step 4. Energy This section contains various words and terms in regard to basic quantitative measures of different forms of motion and interaction of matter. Some of the words are: energy, object, internal, mechanical, solar, on, alternative, source, radiant, nuclear, potential, geo-thermal, weight. These words can be used to form a variety of combinations for a variety of terms, such as “alternative source of energy”. Step 5. Motion This step presents words and terms concerning the change of position of the objects and their components with time. Some of the words are: good, upper, bad, on, uniformly accelerating motion, lower, steadily changeable motion, limit, reactive, hearing. For example, they can be used to build “upper threshold of audibility”. Additional Materials This section contains information about all words and terms included in Step 4 Energy and Step 5 Motion. These materials as well as the user manual are attached as an external file so that additional instructions can be added. They were converted into a .pdf file and can be open directly in the browser (screenshot 5).
Screenshot 5. Additional material for the term “geothermal energy”. The educational program “First Steps in Physics for the Deaf” is an introduction to the world of physics in sign language, targeted primarily but not exclusively at deaf pupils. The program is developed so that its vocabulary can be expanded which would allow for more and more important definitions and descriptions pertinent to physics and astronomy to be included in the education of deaf children. In addition, the program allows deaf students to practice their written Bulgarian in which, due to the specifics of their sensory disability, they make a lot of grammar mistakes. This is to a great extent valid for their non-disabled peers as well. The additional materials make teaching easier. Instructors can use the program to conduct interesting classes in the form of educational games. The third multimedia education programme, Specialized Bulgarian Sign Language, was created in order to make learning science easier and more interesting for deaf pupils. In Bulgaria, physics and astronomy as school subjects are taught from the seventh grade onward. The programme is available at: http://signlanguage- bg.com/bg/specialized%20bulgarian% 20sign%20language/start.htm.
6. Screenshot of the term Valley
– definition and translation (English version).
7. Screenshot of the term Valley
– visual materials (English version).
Thus, providing a multimedia education programme in physics and astronomy allows pupils with hearing loss as well as those with normal hearing to use a broad range of information, including pictures and videos that are linked to concrete terms.
The hypertext allows the user to research additional information on a particular topic by clicking on a link. The dictionary allows access to users without hearing loss who are interested in the world of deaf people (Zamfirov, Saeva, Popov, 2007). It can be generalized that for the majority of pupils the computer plays a motivational role, and as a result, when using it, they put a greater effort than they put into written tasks. When the educational content is on the screen, as a game, and in sign and written language at the same time, the children memorize and analyze more. This is valid especially for deaf children who use two languages with distinctly different grammatical structures. Specialschools There are three special boarding schools for the deaf in Bulgaria. In the kindergartens for deaf children, several special services are included: diagnostics of speech difficulties and delays, individual and group speech-hearing rehabilitation, art therapy, musical stimulations, phonetic rhythmics and motorics, and teaching and rehabilitation of children with cochlear implants (CI). The schools offer services for school-aged children as follows: diagnostics of speech and language disorders, rehabilitation of speech and hearing, one year of pre-school training, education from the first to twelfth grade, teaching and rehabilitation of children with CI, resource support for integrated children with hearing loss, and teaching and rehabilitation of children with multiple disorders. In the period when pupils are at the end of their school education, from ninth to twelfth grade in the special schools, there is vocational training. Several professions are taught to deaf pupils, such as tailoring, carpentry, and culinary arts. There are practical lessons as well as theory. Since 2003 all special schools have been obliged to teach their students using the same curriculum as mainstream schools. In the academic year 2007/08, deaf graduates had to take their central final examinations at the same level as their hearing peers for the first time. The deaf pupils faced tremendous difficulties in expressing themselves properly in the essay section as well as in the Bulgarian language and literature exam.
3. Common problems in the special and mainstream education of deaf children There are several problems with deaf education in both special and mainstream schools. The first one is that English as a foreign language is a compulsory subject from the very beginning
of school education, starting in the first grade. So both special and mainstream teachers face educational and communication problems when it comes to teaching Bulgarian deaf pupils a second alphabet at a very young age and making them understand that there is a difference in the way an English word is written and pronounced. The Bulgarian language differs from English in this respect: words are pronounced the way they are written. In order to assist and support deaf pupils in learning the English language, we developed the programme English for people with hearing loss (beginners) presented above. The second issue concerns the central final examinations which are taken by all pupils at state and private schools at the end of their high school education. This includes all deaf and hardof-hearing graduates in mainstream and special schools. Deaf and hard-of-hearing pupils find the final examination challenging. However, pupils with special needs are provided with some support (e.g. they have an hour more to write their essays). The third difficulty comes from the fact that once the pupils have finished their primary education and continue onto the secondary level, the teachers, both in special education and mainstream schools, are not special educators. Some of them have taken a pre-qualification course for several semesters at university but the majority have not. At this level of education, the teachers are subject teachers, for example in mathematics, literature, and geography. These are currently the three biggest difficulties in Bulgarian deaf education. Solutions have been found for all three issues but the responsible institutions have yet to implement them all.
4. Bulgarian Sign Language Bulgarian Sign Language is not officially recognized by the state. Several factors have influenced this situation. One of them is the fact that there are different signs for one spoken word in the different geographical regions of Bulgaria. That is a result of the concentration of deaf people in certain towns in Bulgaria (e.g. there are more deaf people in the towns with special schools for the deaf). There is an interesting division among Bulgarian signers. Younger and older deaf people tend to use different signs for the same word. This situation could be compared to slang and literary language used by younger and older hearing people.
5. Bulgarian fingerspelling There are two ways to fingerspell in Bulgaria: with one hand or with both hands. There is a difference in the fingerspell preference between younger and older deaf people. The one-
handed manual alphabet is used primarily by younger signers while two-handed fingerspell is preferred by older deaf people. At the time when methodology for teaching deaf pupils was introduced, Bulgaria was strongly influenced by German and Russian pedagogy for the deaf. Since the Roman alphabet is used in Germany, Bulgarian specialists borrowed the Russian fingerspell method (Russians use the Cyrillic alphabet like the Bulgarians). As a matter of fact, the Russian alphabet has three more letters than the Bulgarian alphabet. The rest of the letters look identical. Russian fingerspell is one-handed. Since Russian fingerspell has been used for teaching deaf pupils in both special and mainstream schools in Bulgaria, one-handed fingerspell is preferred by younger deaf signers. They have been taught this fingerspell at school and have got used to it. The two-handed fingerspell originates from Bulgarian Deaf people. It is more logical for Bulgarians than the one-handed fingerspell (e.g. in the two-handed fingerspell the letter “B” is signed by touching your cheek since in Bulgarian “cheek” is “buza”, which begins with “B”). In spite of the differences mentioned above, all deaf people know and would understand both ways of fingerspelling. The Union of the Deaf in Bulgaria is working on an interactive programme for teaching Signing Exact Bulgarian. They also have projects for teaching deaf children Orthodoxy and are preparing specialized dictionaries with religious signs. There is another interactive on-line programme, First Steps in Sign Language, which is available at http://signlanguage-bg.com/bg/first_step.HTM. It was designed to meet the need for accessible BgSL learning for both hearing and deaf people. It contains ten steps with topics from everyday life including basic words and sentences, which are presented in BgSL with mouthing only (voiceless and without clear articulation). The word or sentence can be dragged from the window on the left onto the blank lines on the right. If the sentence is not constructed correctly, for example the punctuation or word order is wrong, the video will not start. There is an example of Step 9 Education (screenshots 8 and 9). The word “library” is represented with its BgSL equivalent in screenshot 8 and the sentence “I am going to the library tomorrow.” is shown in screenshot 9.
Screenshot 8. Screenshot from Step 9 Screenshot 9. Screenshot from Step 9 “Education”, word “library”.
“Education”, sentence “I am going to the library tomorrow.”
6. Related institutions There are a lot of state institutions and non-governmental organizations that are involved in the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. First, there is the Ministry of Education and Science, which regulates the whole process. Then, there are the universities that train specialists to work with the pupils and young deaf children. Other important institutions are the special and mainstream schools, which play an important role in the structure of education of children with hearing loss. The Union of the Deaf in Bulgaria has an important function as well. Some of the centres for the rehabilitation of young deaf children are part of the union’s structure. One of these important centres has been running for 30 years now and is specialized in early intervention, and pre- and post-rehabilitation of cochlear implanted children. There are several active non-governmental organizations that work to meet deaf people needs. One of them is the parental organization Association of Parents of Hearing Impaired Children (http://www.ardusbg.com/) which has been in operation since 1992. Some of the aims and main areas of activity of the Association of Parents of Hearing Impaired Children are to protect and defend the interests of children with hearing loss and their families, to represent and protect the rights and interests of children with hearing loss and their families in public institutions and in the community, to cooperate for better social and personal realization of children with hearing loss, and to support and help hearing impaired children and their families. Another association is Friends of Children with Impaired Hearing (http://apdus.hit.bg/). This association is primarily active in projects related to art and creativity development in deaf children and youths.
The Deafvision Association is also very active when it comes to solving young deaf people’s problems. The Alliance for Vision of Young Hearing-impaired People is an organization based in Sofia. It is a non-profit organization for deaf children, youths, parents, teachers and followers. The activities are as follows: organizing, supporting and developing the process of socialization and integration of young people and children with hearing loss; care and support for socialization in all aspects; problem solving for young people and children with hearing loss; rendering assistance in training and educational programmes in vocational guidance and implementation; helping gifted and talented young people and children with hearing loss in their personal development; providing individual and group advisory; assisting young people and children with hearing loss; and representation and protection of special needs and interests before the members of the society and the state. Some deaf pupils go on to university to continue their education. It is difficult because they do not obtain special assistance or support from the government or the university to help them understand the contents of the lectures. Moreover, they are taught and evaluated in the same way as their hearing peers. Friends, relatives or siblings often accompany the deaf university student to interpret the lecture or the practical training course they attend in Sign Language or to take written notes for them. Children with hearing loss have great potential for further development and education, which must be taken into consideration when planning teaching strategies, laws, projects, curricula and documentation for deaf and hard-of-hearing pupils.
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