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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Parents and Their Deaf Children: The Early Years

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Educational Services
Concerns about education may overlap with satisfaction with educational services. One parent felt she was forced to accept a placement in a public school for her child. When she observed a hearing school where the deaf children were all in one self-contained classroom, her reaction was the following:

I . . . checked out their program that they had offered, and at the end of it, I was very, very discouraged. Very. And I told our head of education up here that I did not want my child main-streamed. I wanted him to be in a hearing impaired school because he is hearing impaired. They can deal with him more there, and he can learn more what he needs instead of the environment they have up here. And he kept sayin’ “Well, you know, they have to be, they need to be introduced to hearing children, also.” And I said, “I know that.” I said, “My child—the only time he’s around other hearing impaired children is at school.” I said, “Around here it’s all hearing people.” And, uh, when I had checked out the [mainstreamed] school, they had had like ages of 6 to 11 in one class sitting [setting?], you know, all that different age groups in one class with one teacher. If they went down the hallways, say they got disoriented and lost their way back to their room, the other teachers—they’re not certified in any kinda signin’. They don’t know sign, and they wouldn’t know what my child was sayin’. And at the pep rallies and school activities, none of it was signed. The kids were just sittin’ there, they didn’t really know what was goin’ on. They were just watchin’ the other reactions of the people around ’em. Nothin’ was signed to ’em so they could understand what the pep rally was for or anything like that, and I was really discouraged . . . and I got out of there. (Survey 98)

Other parents whose children went to public schools expressed satisfaction when the staff pro-vided them with information and a positive attitude about their child’s potential. One mother illustrated the importance of professionals’ willingness to listen:

They were just always willing to listen, and they went through everything. So they started her in the services. But they were always willing to listen to any of my concerns, and they were always so tuned in. They just so firmly believe that parents know their children best. And that those are the people who they need to support and to listen to and follow through on the concerns that they had. (Survey 75)

Some parents whose child went to a school for deaf children expressed satisfaction because the staff provided them with information about devices such as doorbells and alarm clocks designed for deaf people. This mother described her general satisfaction with her son’s residential school experience:

Well, they basically get him ready to deal with the world, you know. They have lipreading, sign language, speech, and I mean it just made him feel like he was part of everything. He didn’t feel left out. And I mean, I don’t know, they had a wonderful program. The only thing bad about it, he had to be away from home all week. He could only come home on the weekends. (Survey 202)

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