|Deaf Education in America|
From the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
In order for deaf and hard of hearing children to succeed in regular education placements, schools must be able to effectively integrate them into the social milieu and the learning activities of the school and the classroom (p. 27). A child is not being included if he simply sits beside his classmates but does not interact with them or comprehend what the teacher is saying. This seemingly impenetrable barrier can hinder the relationships normally found within the school walls (p. 33).This book has the potential for a wide audience because of its focus on an educational setting and the individuals who are part of that environment. Upon reading this book, the reader becomes part of a dialogue where children and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing share their educational experiences in inclusive settings. Janet Cerney, in her book, Deaf Education in America: Voices of Children from Inclusion, shared the results of a qualitative research study designed to investigate the quality of relationships and communication interactions of students who are deaf in integrated learning environments. Her investigation led her to interview Deaf students, educational interpreters, and teachers. The book is filled with transcribed interviews and illustrative quotes from these individuals regarding their personal experiences.
The book is organized into two sections. Part 1 provides an overview of deaf education in America. The author succinctly guides the reader through some of the historical and cultural influences that have shaped the education of deaf students, including the factors that have contributed to the increase in the number of students who are educated in an integrated or inclusive setting. She convincingly describes the importance of social learning and the critical need for communication access in all social settings. The author then discusses the use of educational interpreters for many students in integrated settings and the realities of an interpreted education.
Part 2 of the book portrays the actual interviews. The students’ comments are organized around themes including language deprivation, loneliness, social isolation, and oppression and lack of power. Cerney includes deaf students whose preferred mode of communication is signing and those who prefer speaking. The subsequent chapters record the interviews with educational interpreters, deaf education teachers, and general education teachers. They were asked to describe their general feelings of an integrated setting for students who are deaf, accessing educational content, and accessing the full school environment. Many of their comments echoed the students’ comments and provide further evidence of the need to examine the efficacy of services provided to students who are deaf in integrated settings. Although it is interesting to read the students’ and professionals’ actual words, this section of the book becomes a bit redundant. Cerney first presents the responses by themes, then provides some interpretation of the comments, and finally reviews the entire section.
Cerney offers a concise summary of the issues that may face children and youth in inclusive settings as well as several thought-provoking suggestions for change. Parents, educators, educational interpreters, and school administrators may benefit from reading the words that expressed the thoughts and feelings of those who are most affected by placement decisions—the children and youth who are deaf.
Janet Cerney Dickinson is Superintendent, New York School for the Deaf, White Plains, NY.
ISBN 978-1-56368-362-6, 1-56368-362-8, 6 x 9 casebound, 224 pages, figure, table, references, index
To order by mail, print our Order Form or call:
TEL 1-800-621-2736; (773) 568-1550 8 am - 5 pm CST