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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf Education in America: Voices of Children from Inclusion Settings

Janet Cerney Dickinson

Part Two: The Research Study

Voices of Deaf Children

All voices are valuable in understanding the complexities of deaf studentsí experiences in integrated settings. For this reason, I interviewed deaf students, interpreters, deaf education teachers, and regular education teachers. In this and the following chapters, I have included all quotes relating to each specific category, as well as an interpretation of the emerging themes. Each participant created a new name for himself or herself. These names are used throughout the chapters so readers may follow the path of a single participant. It is important to note that not all students responded to each topic. The participants were allowed to guide the conversation and, therefore, were treated as conversational partners instead of objects of research. By asking probing questions aligned with the research questions, I was able to narrow the focus. Overall, it seemed that this approach was extremely effective, giving the participants more comfort in sharing liberally on topics that interested them.

The deaf student participants range in age from 10 to 18 years, and they reside in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio. All of them have hearing parents. They share a common experience of being educated in integrated classrooms that are located in larger suburban school districts. All deaf student participants also share the common experience of receiving an interpreted education through a sign language interpreter. At the time of the interviews three of the students were experiencing their first year at a school for the deaf, after spending years in integrated classrooms. Though all the students can communicate through ASL, two of them communicate in the integrated classroom through voice only, but they still use an interpreter to receive and to clarify information.

As I analyzed the responses of the students, a dividing line seemed to emerge between the students that exhibit some ability to hear and speak and the students who are profoundly deaf and only communicate through sign language. This dividing line is so prevalent throughout this data that I will refer to the first group as the signing deaf students (those students using only sign language to communicate) and the second group as the speaking deaf students (even though they may use signs to some extent). The participants in each group are listed below.

Signing deaf students

Speaking deaf students
Zack Tyler
Kyle Kaitlyn
Jasmine Leslie
Julie Patrick
Ashley Sam

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