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EDITORIAL Mainstreaming and the Deaf Community One of the more profound questions facing deaf leaders and educators is the impact of mainstreaming on the deaf community—on deaf culture. When most education occurred in large day schools and residential schools, deaf people had a community and culture that began at or near their school. Upon completion of their education they had an entire network of friends, organizations, traditions, activities , religious options, etc. These comprised a community from which a culture developed. With the advent of mainstreaming there has been a splintering of this community and culture. In large cities where deaf youth are mainstreamed in centralized schools where there are other deaf students or in self-contained classes, there is still a community, albeit an underdeveloped primitive one. Sadly, it is one with which many deaf youth feel ashamed to identify. They turn to this community of other deaf youth only as a last resort, after rejection from hearing peers. The deaf youth mainstreamed in small towns and rural schools often grow up with little or no contact with other deaf people. For these individuals, it is a life of loneliness and rejection. For almost all deaf people regardless of the age at which they first have close contact with other deaf people, the impact is profound. For a significant percent, this initial meaningful contact comes at Gallaudet University, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), California State University, or to a lesser degree in community colleges with programs for deaf students. Most of these students will identify with the deaf community to varying degrees, but some never feel comfortable with this identity. If most deaf people were able to find full acceptance and participation in the "hearing world," the deaf community and deaf culture would not be of such crucial importance to deaf people. However, deaf people never find this full acceptance and participation with hearing people. Those who seek it face rejection and loneliness. This is not to sa ν that most deaf people do not have hearing friends, hearing coworkers , and social interaction with hearing people. The ν do, but such interactions always have limitations dictated by communication barriers, limitations which leave the deaf person at a tremendous disadvantage. The best adjusted deaf people are those who have strong positive identifications with other deaf people and realistic satisfying but circumscribed interactions with the "hearing world." This fact is the last thing most parents, many educators , and a few deaf people want to hear. This is understandable , but still the reality must be faced. Mainstreaming is undeniably weakening the deaf community . It is reducing the percentage of deaf people who become members and delaying the age at which they have this opportunity. For some it actually eliminates the opportunity . Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, rehabilitation counselors and others are seeing the pathology that results from isolation, rejection, and continual disadvantage deaf people face who have no deaf community to which to turn for communication, understanding, acceptance, culture , and identification. The New Administration Even Ronald Reagan's strongest supporters would have been unable to portray him or his administration as helpful to deaf or other disabled persons. During his two terms in office, programs and services either died or functioned in limbo. President Bush, thus far, has given lip service to caring about disabled people. His speeches often have included an interpreter. Dr. Roderick Macdonald, President of the American Association of the Deaf-Blind, has been approached bv a representative of the administration concerning needs of deaf-blind people. This would have been unheard of under Reagan. It will become clearer during President Bush's first vear just how meaningful his concern for deaf people is. More importantly, what will filter down to the operational level in terms of programs and research to develop the potential of those who are deaf and deaf-blind? It is especially important that someone knowledgeable about deaf-blind adults be put in a decision -making position at the Federal level. A.A.D. I December 1988 313 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
p. 313
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-22
Open Access
No
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