Kathryn Wilkins: Deaf education vs mainstream education

Posted on November 4, 2017

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The way in which society educates deaf people has evolved throughout generations. There was a time when deaf people were taught at deaf schools only, using the strategy of BSL, then BSL was banned in deaf education and deaf people were forced to speak. They were punished if they chose to sign as it was forbidden anywhere on school grounds.


By making them speak they felt like they lost their freedom, the freedom to embrace their deaf culture.But have we learned from our mistakes?

Over time more deaf schools have been closed and deaf people have been sent to mainstream schools and have been taught orally. Deaf people are now seen as part of the hearing world. We have to learn English yet BSL isn’t taught. We are seen as “deaf and dumb” this is NOT true, we can achieve anything in life if we put our minds to it.

But shouldn’t we have the choice as to where we’re educated? The mainstream environment can cause deaf people to feel isolated, with lower confidence and self esteem but of course this doesn’t apply to everyone. Many deaf students thrive in a mainstream school and many don’t let their deafness get in the way of their goals and will continue to achieve their potential, with the right support and equipment.

But why should we have “special equipment” and have a TA sat next to us, and be seen as the odd one out, the one who’s disabled? Well, we’re deaf not disabled. Wouldn’t you like not to constantly battle for the right hours of support or equipment?

Well, none of this matters, no battles are needed.

Doesn’t society encourage equality?

We should have the choice, the option to be educated in a deaf environment where you’re all treated equally, not being treated any different; not being singled out or having advantages because of your deafness. Not having to worry about explaining to a supply teacher how a radio aid works, or having to stick your hand up, embarrassed because you couldn’t hear what the teacher has said. No bullying towards your deafness.

Deaf education is tailored to students who are deaf, with special group hearing aids, specialist teachers of the deaf. Deaf education allows deaf people to be themselves and forget their deafness, immerse themselves into a world of like-minded people, people who understand them, allowing them to feel “normal”, and also to develop their love for education again. Therefore, increasing self esteem and confidence.

The reason why we don’t see many deaf schools open and very few deaf students applying to go to deaf education is because of cuts and lack of funding. Why should our futures be decided by our LEA’s? However, there is a wide amount of support available in a mainstream environment but the quality of support is arguably varied.

Wouldn’t you like the option to choose; mainstream or deaf education? You should have the choice to embrace your deaf culture, to decide how you want to lead your life, for you only live life once. So you should think about what’s best for you, and take the opportunity by both hands.

This article was first published on Ni Gallant’s blog here: http://nigallant.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/deaf-education-vs-mainstream-education.html and is republished by kind permission.

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