Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Everyday, millions of people worldwide awake to silence. They don't hear the sounds of mom making breakfast and coffee being made. They don't hear the sound of the neighbors' dog barking as the paper boy rides by on his bike. They aren't awaken by the steady shrill of the alarm clock. These people are deaf and they can barely hear the sound of their own voices, if at all. This is a world inhabited by 14 million Americans but remains unfamiliar to the rest of the population and there is little interaction between their world and ours. In fact, little effort is made for members of either world to communicate.
Almost from birth, or the moment of deafness, the newborn or infant is whisked away to this ostracized climate. Rarely do they come in contact with other children their age who are not deaf or hard of hearing. They generally attend schools which only educate deaf children and they are only able to play with children who are like themselves. Because of this isolation, the hearing community as a whole knows little about this other culture and very few have been able to interact or communicate with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. For these reasons, I felt that it would be worth while to raise the awareness of a segment of the hearing community in order to facilitate interaction between the two groups.
As mentioned, my goal was not to implement a mainstreaming program, but to plant the seed in the educational system that may one day grow into such a fruitful venture. The need to mainstream is evident by the number of programs around the world that are being implemented already. One of the largest problems arising in many of these programs is the isolation that occurs for the deaf student due to their inability to communicate with the hearing students, teachers, and administration and vice versa, Hopefully, when programs such as mine are introduced into the school system, even before deaf children are integrated into a school, such resistance will be weeded out.
I found that everyone I spoke with was in agreement with this theory. I tried to speak with people who might be involved with setting up programs such as mine into the school system including: Billy Dew (who would represent the hearing-impaired community), Lynn Gick (the second grade teacher), Lynn Thorpe (the middle school principal), Tom Fernald ( the elementary school principal), and Mary Hawk (from the Department of Exceptional Education). Their agreement was evident by their willingness to help me with my project.
Netsel, Kristen Leigh, "The children are singing. Can you hear them?" (1994). Honors Theses. 1189.