Deaf Education in America: Voices of Children from Inclusion
General Feelings About School
Loneliness and Isolation
What is it like to be a deaf student in a hearing school? What does it feel
It was only so-so . . . I didnít really like it. I remember being embarrassed
and a little frightened in the hearing school.
I didnít really like the hearing school because I couldnít communicate with the
hearing kids. Iíd try to talk with them
sometimes, but mostly I was just shy. I
felt lower then them, so I usually didnít even try.
Iím just friends with the deaf kids. Well, Iím not the only deaf kid in the
school, so Iím not so lonely as those who canít
talk. Learn to speak. If you can talk, it is
I feel OK and comfortable about going to a hearing school.
Sometimes I feel lonely, like if people talk a million miles an hour. I just sit
there and listen to them. I just like to listen a
But, I think it is fun going to school now. I have a lot of friends, and I just
feel normal. It is just that when I was little I
didnít really have many friends and
I really didnít want to go to school. Just being myself helped, I guess.
I know it was a good school for the hearing kids, but it is hard for deaf people
to understand and learn there. I feel left
out because Iím deaf . . . whereís my
culture? Iím closed in, contained, but not in my own culture. I never experienced
[socializing] at the hearing school. Thatís why I never learned.
If you donít have anyone to talk with at school and you come home and you
donít have anyone to talk to at home,
then you can get real lonely and just give
up. Youíll feel like youíre not learning anything.
I think itís the environment. Itís just a cold, less-friendly environment. The
school seems cold, not too friendly. I look
forward to getting home.
Sometimes, Iím lonely. Iím on my own, the only deaf kid in the school so I have
to live with that. Iím lonely when I
feel I am struggling in school. When I feel
all alone, then I lose my motivationóit just kind of bottoms out.
When I was younger, I felt I could join and interact with any group, but as I
got older, I felt more distance, more
isolation from hearing kids. At the time, it
didnít really bother me; I got used to it as it happened. I really thought it was
just the environment I was in, that it really wasnít anything important.
I like going to a hearing school. I feel I have gotten a good education there.
And Iíve learned how to live in the hearing
culture. But I want to learn more about
the deaf culture.
When deaf students were asked about school, they exclusively answered
from a social perspective, rather than from an academic perspective.
Interestingly, this differed from the adult participants, who answered
almost exclusively from an academic perspective.
When reflecting on their feelings about school, the speaking deaf students
tended to respond somewhat positively. However, the comments from
the signing deaf students revealed deeper negative feelings. The younger signing
students gave short, but insightful answers that told of their misery in
school. Zack and Kyle both seemed to feel that the communication barrier
was so intense that they could not glean any enjoyment in being there. Julie
also revealed very negative feelings toward school. She linked these negative
feelings to a cold school climate. Looking beyond individuals, Julie
saw the problem as a school-wide problem, a general lack of friendliness.