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99 7 Self-Esteem of Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in Cyprus and Greece Katerina Antonopoulou Kika Hadjikakou Maria Charalambous Self-esteem is defined as one’s overall evaluation or appraisal of one’s own worth (Rosenberg, 1979; Smith & Mackie, 2007). Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (e.g., “I am competent,” “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Similarly, one’s self-esteem is based on the ratio between perceived competence and one’s aspirations in at least one specific area of life that one considers important (Harter, 1990). Discrepancies between perceived and actual competence , as acknowledged by oneself and other important people, put one at risk for impairment in self-esteem. Both deaf and hearing women have been found to describe self-esteem in conceptually equivalent terms, with most women in each group referring to the notion of “capability” (Holte & Dinis, 2001). Self-esteem has been found to affect the cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of human development (Campbell & Lavallee, 1993). Several studies have revealed that deaf and hard of hearing individuals have lower self-esteem than hearing people (Bat-Chava, 1994; Mulcahy, 1998; Schlesinger, 2000; Weisel & Kamara, 2005). In addition, “several aspects might affect self-esteem and wellbeing , such as vocational dissatisfaction, frustration in attempts at communication , and social rejection” (Weisel & Kamara, 2005, p. 59). Thus research on the self-esteem of deaf and hard of hearing people should take into consideration the circumstances in which they grew up or their current conditions in relation to their communicative and acceptance experiences, overall psychosocial potential, and general satisfaction with life (Hintermair, 2007). Previous studies have proposed a number of factors that may influence the self-esteem of deaf and hard of ara86542_07_ch07.indd 99 ara86542_07_ch07.indd 99 13/10/15 12:59 PM 13/10/15 12:59 PM Katerina Antonopoulou, Kika Hadjikakou, and Maria Charalambous 100 hearing people, including parents’ hearing status, the mode of communication at home, educational experiences prior to college, acculturation, the age of onset of deafness, the severity of hearing loss, and subjective assessments of well-being (Bat-Chava, 1993; Jambor & Elliott, 2005; Maxwell-McCaw, 2001). In the qualitative research conducted by Sheppard and Badger (2010) and Hadjikakou and Nikolaraizi (2008), the influence of early family communication patterns on later self-esteem was revealed. Deaf participants indicated that they felt isolated as children, given the lack of communication between them and other family members at home; their parents could not sign with them. Parents’ hearing status as well as methods of communication within families have an impact on deaf and hard of hearing people’s self-esteem (Crowe, 2003; Desselle, 1994; Sheppard & Badger, 2010). Children of deaf parents were found to have greater self-esteem than children of hearing parents (Crowe, 2003; Woolfe & Smith, 2001), probably because deaf parents serve as effective role models for their deaf and hard of hearing children. Also, deaf and hard of hearing people whose parents used sign language with them had greater self-esteem than did those whose parents preferred oral methods (Crowe, 2003; Desselle, 1994). A qualitative study of classroom communication barriers (especially in inclusive settings) that might affect the self-esteem of deaf and hard of hearing people has found that deaf women were more likely to report education as a factor in self-esteem enhancement, with language and communication as additional critical components (Holte & Dinis 2001). Other studies have examined the connection between acculturation and self-esteem and/or self-worth. In fact, “group identification is deemed one of the most important factors leading to positive self-esteem among deaf people” (Jambor & Elliott, 2005, p. 67). Anumber of studies have found that people who described themselves as having a bicultural or deaf identity had greater self-esteem than those with a hearing or marginal identity (Bat-Chava, 2000; Hintermair, 2007; Maxwell-McCaw, 2001; Weinberg & Sterrit, 1986). THE CONTEXT OF CYPRUS The history of deaf education in Cyprus began in 1953, when the first school for deaf children was established in Nicosia as a result of a collective effort by the Rotary Club at Nicosia, the Municipal Corporation of Nicosia, and the Government of Cyprus. Until 1987, deaf and hard of hearing students had been attending the school for deaf students exclusively. Then, with the implementation of the (113[1]99) Special Education Law in 1999, the majority of these children in Cyprus (95%) began being educated in general (oral training) schools, either individually or in self-contained classes, with or without special support...


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