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Introduction The Hearing-Impaired Learner with Special Needs: Introduction Robert E. Stepp, Jr. In the not too distant past, the opportunities available to a child who was born deaf were severely restricted. He or she was subject to misunderstanding and discrimination, had access to only a limited range of vocations, and often lived an entire lifetime in a somewhat secluded environment. Gradually, this situation is changing. The general public is finally beginning to see past the handicap to the real people who are the deaf—people whose basic human needs, capabilities , and aspirations are like anyone else's and people who simply have special needs in the process of communication. Education is helping to raise the public level of awareness at the same time it is improving the scope of opportunity afforded the deaf themselves. The future looks brighter for our deaf population as it does for other handicapped children and adults. The Federal Government has mandated and supported programs for the handicapped . CETA and Affirmative Action have broadened the range of employment opportunities . Public Law 94-142, making education of the handicapped the responsibility of each school district, requires the formulation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each disabled child, in the "least restrictive environment" in which the child is able to function . The Child/Find program is providing that deaf children, and other children with handicaps , are being recognized and diagnosed at earlier ages so that organized instruction can begin earlier. As the IEP's are implemented, it becomes even more obvious that deaf students cannot be categorized by their deafness and taught in a routine way. In fact, the deaf represent a microcosm of the population as a whole. They vary in intelligence, in coordination and dexterity, in special talents, in curiosity, in ambition, in stamina, and in the presence or absence of additional handicaps. All of these factors have a bearing on learning achievement and must be taken into consideration in planning for deaf students. Only in recent years have we sought to identify the gifted students among the handicapped and to vary their programs accordingly. In recent years, also, we have laid particular stress on specific planning to accommodate those children who must contend with a combination of handicaps: the deaf-blind, the deaf cerebral palsied, the deaf aphasie, and the mentally retarded deaf, for example. Variations in the learning modes and learning abilities among deaf students demand variations in methods and materials. Teachers of the deaf must be adaptable and must have at their disposal teaching materials and devices that are versatile—even though designed for use by and with the deaf. Instructional strategies must vary according to the diagnosis of the learning problems and the avenues of communication available to the teacher and student. Instruction must be planned at a level to enable understanding and yet at a level to challenge the student to grow and develop intellectually and socially. Learning styles are not more homogeneous among deaf students than among hearing students. Instructional media of all kinds can be adapted for use by nearly all hearing-impaired learners. Media are valuable tools in educating the handicapped because, by design and format , they can: 1. involve several senses at once; 2. demonstrate ideas; 3. compensate, in part, for impaired communicative skills; 4. provide access to information not otherwise available; 5. simulate experiences; and 6. serve as a response mode and form of creative expression. Teachers must be skilled in the selection, utilization , and production of instructional materials . Many materials currently available on the commercial market can be used without alteration for the deaf; others will have to be adapted; and still there are areas in which no materials exist, or none that can be used with 570 AAD. I September 1981 Introduction the deaf learner. For these latter needs the teacher must be capable of designing and producing his/her own materials. Teachers of the deaf must be resourceful, flexible, and must have expertise in many areas. The papers, printed in this issue, of the 14th Symposium on Research and Utilization of Educational Media for Teaching the Deaf focus on the role of educational media and technology in the learning process of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
pp. 570-571
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-22
Open Access
No
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