There are many options open to teachers of deaf children in a variety of situations. In teaching deaf and hard of hearing children there is such a wide range of children, each with their own abilities. Each child also has a different family situation to take into account. Some children come from deaf families, some they are the only deaf family member, and some have no support from their families because they are deaf. There are also students that have family members that make an effort to learn how to best communicate with them, while some do only what they must to communicate the needed information. Along with this is the severity of each child’s hearing loss. Some suffer from only slight amount of hearing loss and can therefore have better verbal communication skills, while some are completely deaf and have no way to communicate besides through sign language. Another differing aspect is the type of classroom the teacher is teaching in. There are four basic types of classroom (Stewart & Kluwin, 2001) that deaf education teachers can be placed in. The most pictured classroom is the traditional classroom where a teacher has a group of all deaf and hard of hearing students, usually only about five to eight children with a range of learning levels.
This teacher must be prepared to be teaching on different grade levels within one class. Others types of classrooms are a resource room where there is more of a one-on-one focus, itinerant teachers who travel between schools and students, spending only a select amount of time with them. The last typical type of class is a team teaching situation where there are both hearing and deaf students in a classroom and another teacher that focuses on the hearing children while one is for the deaf students. These are some of the possibilities that teachers of children with hearing loss may come across in their careers.
Teaching with Sign Language
The most common educational teaching method for the deaf is to use a combination of both American Sign Language (ASL) and English in the classroom. The signing of the English language is called Pidgen Sign Language (PSL) or Signed Exact English (SEE). ASL is the accepted language of the deaf in America and the preferred method of communication for the majority of the deaf culture. It is a language of concepts instead of actual forming of sentences and has no relation to English. ASL has a “topic-comment syntax, while English uses subject- object- verb” (Nakamura, 2002). In this format, they are able to understand each other best, but this can also cause problems for education. The downside to ASL is that there is no use of sentence structure, so this is where a combination of ASL with English comes in the education picture. This system of bilingual teaching (Mason, 1995) with ASL and SEE teaches the children English, the language of the United States, but by using many of the signs of ASL. The students are taught with the...