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Editorial Communication Eclecticism Recently, I looked at the April 1997 Annals Reference Issue in order to get a feel for developments and trends in enrollments and communication modes in classroom instruction . I decided to lay out all programs serving 300 or more deaf and hard of hearing students and see how they clustered. By my count, there were 35 such programs, enrolling more than 40% of deaf and hard of hearing children identified throughout the country. Structure was quite varied, with ten of the programs located within large city public school districts, ten were in county-wide or "intermediate " districts, nine were in residential schools, and the rest were scattered among different categories such as state-wide systems. Most of our large programs, then, tend to fall into one of three categories: regional or state-wide, large city, or residential. From other data I have seen, I assume that the demographic characteristics of the children and the resources available in each type of setting vary considerably. As might be expected, by far the three largest programs were in the public schools of our three largest cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The first two had more than 2,000 students in their programs and the third had more than 1,000. Of particular interest to me was the geographic dispersion of the programs. Six of the 35 are in Florida, four are in California, and three each are in Illinois , Michigan, New York, and Texas. That means the majority of the large programs in the United States (22 of 35) may be found in only six states. Each of these states, with the exception of Illinois and Michigan, is quite separate from the other five. Out of curiosity, I looked at the classroom communication options reported by the 35 programs. They could report one or more of four modes of communication: Auditory /Oral, Cued Speech, ASL, and Sign with Speech. I wanted to see if many schools reported only one mode and, if so, what mode that might be. Of secondary interest was the possibility of variation by residential versus commuter status. Very few of the programs limited themselves to one mode of instruction in the school setting. Only one program listed Auditory/Oral only, one listed ASL only, and one listed Sign with Speech only. None listed Cued Speech only. According to my count, Sign with Speech (Signed English , SEE II, etc.) was used in 32 programs with at least some of the students, Auditory/Oral was used in 28 programs , ASL was used in 25 programs, and Cued Speech was used in seven programs. With only two exceptions (one residential school and one urban program), every program that used ASL also used Sign with Speech. This suggests that the philosophy of Total Communication, as promulgated by Roy Holcomb in the 1970s, encompassing all modes of communication depending on the situation and individual students needs is widespread. Possibly there are some mistakes in the reporting. For example, we have no commonly accepted definition of ASL. Some observers may confuse ASL and a manual code on English. Also, some programs may report Sign with Speech only where similar programs may report Sign with Speech and Auditory/Oral modes for the same kinds of classroom communication. Regardless, it seems clear that programs for deaf children, at least those with 300 or more students, are quite eclectic in modes of classroom communication . No one mode appears to dominate. Perhaps smaller programs are more limited in their options, but it should be remembered that the ones under consideration here enroll almost 50% of the deaf and hard of hearing children in programs in the United States. Donald F. Moores Editor Volume 142, No. 5, 1997 American Annals of the Deaf ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
p. 347
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-11
Open Access
No
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