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Deaf/Blind News Report of Communication Method Usage by Teachers of Deaf-Blind Children Corinne Klein Jensema, Ph.D. The next series of articles presented under the "Deaf-Blind News" will be explanations and discussions of results taken from a national survey of communication methods used by deaf-blind children and their teachers during the fall of 1979. A questionnaire was distributed to 400 teachers of deafblind children in educational programs receiving ESEA, Title VI C funds. Findings were based on statistical analysis of 195 returned useable questionnaires. Questions focused on what communication methods teachers used with their students and students used with their teachers, auditorily, visually, and tactilely, and to what extent each is used. Teachers were also asked to rate their own ability to use each communication method. This article will discuss teacher responses to the methods of communication they themselves employ with the students. Tables 1 and 2 depict the percentages of teachers who used each method of communication to various degrees . It is fairly safe to predict that "None Reported " indicates that the method was not employed at all, and these statistics actually could be added to the "Never" category. Significant differences were found to exist between the frequency with which each of the communication methods were used. Speech, signs, gestures, and, to some extent, writing most often were employed as primary communication media. Other communication systems were barely or never used probably because teachers had never heard of them, had no training in their use, or did not feel they were appropriate to student needs. Further research should explore whether these other methods The author is from the Maryland School for the Deaf in Columbia, Maryland. are viable communication alternatives or should be ignored for all except a few deafblind children. Teachers seem to use the communication methods in the classroom which they habitually would use in social situations. Thus, speech is favored by teachers even though it is used on a limited basis by the students. It is fairly safe to assume that speech is the teachers' primary communication channel since only five teachers identified themselves as hearing impaired. Only these five teachers might use manual communication as their usual means of conversation. The inappropriateness of speech for teaching deaf-blind children is borne out by several other factors. More than half of the children were reported to have severe to profound hearing losses, meaning that they had insufficient residual hearing to auditorally interpret speech. Couple this with the fact that only a quarter of the children wore amplification most of the school day. Speech also is the most typical mode through which formal language is conveyed. Teachers tended to use communication methods which are amenable to the rapid transmission of formal language. The use of formal English grammar can be questioned since about 60% of the children were severely to profoundly mentally retarded, which would imply that the ability of many of the children to develop a formal language system may be limited. Although teacher use of speech was disproportionately high, it should be defended partially on the basis that good instructional strategy dictates presentation of language just beyond the students' own expressive level. This technique permits a child to have modeling experiences . Also, every person's expressive abilities are more limited than his/her receptive abilities. This is true for deaf-blind children as A.A.O. I February 1981 Deaf !Blind News Table 1. Distribution of How the Teacher Communicates with the Student Visually and/or Auditorally. Communication Methods ORAL Speech MANUAL Cued Speech Gestures and/or pantomime Signs (including fingerspelling Fingerspelling (alone) Morse Code Cross Code Palm writing Glove Method Braille Hand Speech Other WRITTEN Regular print Large print Braille Bliss Symbolics Rebus Other None Reported N 23 53 34 29 47 51 51 51 51 53 181 44 46 53 56 55 186 % 11.8 27.2 17.4 14.9 24.1 26.2 26.2 26.2 26.2 27.2 92.8 22.6 23.6 27.2 28.7 28.2 95.4 Rate of Use Never 0-10% 29 95 52 48 134 144 144 143 144 140 5 111 104 140 138 129...


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