National Deaf Education Center Publishes Findings That Identify Five Major Barriers Impacting Deaf and Hard of Hearing K-12 Students Across the Nation

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The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University has published findings from its public input process in which 1400 comments were collected from 775 respondents, 85 percent of whom live or work with deaf and hard of hearing children from traditionally underrepresented groups. Analyses identify five major barriers and four persistent themes and provide a snapshot of the current state of K-12 deaf education.

Common themes emerge regardless of background and context -- this is powerful information for people to consider when planning their programs and services, serving students, identifying priorities and needs, and seeking resources.

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center is pleased to announce the publication of “Critical Needs of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: A Public Input Summary,” a ground-level reference on how people are describing and experiencing the barriers they encounter for the deaf and hard of hearing children in their homes or workplaces. This analysis is taken from 1,400 comments from 775 respondents broad in geographic, affiliation, and linguistic diversity.

PDF: http://www.gallaudet.edu/documents/Clerc/PublicInputSummary.pdf
E-magazine format: http://issuu.com/clerccenter/docs/publicinputsummary

“Critical Needs of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: A Public Input Summary” is an 18-page document and was developed with language for all audiences yet provides analysis and statistics that will benefit educators at all levels, academic researchers, service providers, grant seekers, and policymakers. “This collection of public input provides valuable insight into the wide and diverse range of perspectives regarding the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children, their families, and the professionals who work with them across the nation,” wrote Dr. Christen Szymanski, who is director of Research and Evaluation at the Clerc Center and led the data analysis.

Especially significant is that of the 775 respondents, 85 percent reported either having or working with deaf and hard of hearing children from these traditionally underserved groups: those who come from rural areas, who are from non-English speaking homes, who may have secondary disabilities, who are from racial/ethnic minority populations, and/or who are struggling academically.

The qualitative data collection occurred from Spring 2010 through Winter 2011 and was coordinated by Dr. Sue Jacoby, executive director of Planning, Development, and Dissemination at the Clerc Center. Speaking to the value of the summary, Dr. Jacoby said, “Common themes emerge regardless of background and context -- this is powerful information for people to consider when planning their programs and services, serving students, identifying priorities and needs, and seeking resources.”

The public input summary provides a demographic breakdown of the 775 respondents, an explanation of the methodology used, and identified 14 barriers that deaf and hard of hearing children encounter in birth-21 academic environments throughout the nation. However, from these 14 barriers:

  • Four themes emerged from nearly two-thirds of the responses: Language and Communication, Resources, Social Concerns, and Qualified Direct Service Personnel.
  • Five overarching barriers were identified: 1) Knowledge and education of caregivers, professionals, and the general public; 2) Collaborative efforts; 3) Qualified professionals and services; 4) Meeting the needs of the student within the school system; and 5) The child’s self-development

The Clerc Center receives its mandate from the Education of the Deaf Act, which requires it to establish priorities through a process that incorporates public input. “These findings make a powerful contribution to the national conversation on deaf education,” said Ed Bosso, vice president of the Clerc Center at Gallaudet University. “This document gives us a pulse on deaf education, as reported by parents, educators, administrators, service professionals, all of whom the Clerc Center serves. This will help the Clerc Center identify and design high impact strategies to address them.”

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University is federally funded and provides information, training, and technical assistance for parents and professionals to meet the needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Clerc Center operates two demonstration schools and works to improve the quality of education afforded to deaf and hard of hearing students from birth to age 21 throughout the United States. Visit clerccenter.gallaudet.edu for more information.

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