04 SES 04 A, Including Students with Hearing and Visual Impairments: New educational strategies
Until relatively recently, deafness was seen as simply a physical impairment: the absence of hearing (Butler, Skelton & Valentine, 2001; Lane 1997). Today, disability centred outlooks oriented towards the compensation of hearing loss are step by step replaced by interpretations based on bilingual or even multilingual approaches, which are viewing the Deaf child as a member of a distinct cultural and linguistic minority (Higgins and Liberman 2016), having at its core the use of sign language. In this context, the linguistic and cultural diversity of Deaf learners can be efficiently incorporated into educational strategies to promote their education and social inclusion by acknowledging that Deaf learners, similarly to hearing learners can have different backgrounds, family languages and cultural affiliations, and everyone has a fundamental right to live their identity under favourable conditions (Leigh and Crowe 2015).
The notion of bilingualism, when referring to the linguistic-cultural needs of the ethnic-national minority Deaf learners, may be misleading (Ohna 2003), as they are in fact in a situation of dual bilingualism. Taking into account the above considerations, the need arise to clearly state that the right to education in the mother tongue (both within family and school) concerns also the Deaf as members of distinct cultural communities having their own languages, and therefore includes the right of Deaf to be educated in sign language. Furthermore, in the light of the fact that children from minority ethnic communities must have the same rights as their counterparts with mainstream national affiliation, it is important to stress that they have the right to be educated in their minority sign language national versions as well.
If we accept as a starting point that children in ethnic-national minority status needs multilingual development in the above sense, it is first of all necessary to clarify what languages they learn and use in their home childhood family, school, adult family life, Deaf community and the larger society; based on this information we can formulate the concrete goals of language development; and finally, in order to be successful in the process, it is necessary to develop multi-faceted partnerships with the children's families, communities and their assistants (Macrory 2006). All this requires clear language learning policy concept and planning (Clyne 2005), adequate educational set up, family assistance and legislation.
Within the interpretations framework outlined above, my paper is discussing the role of early family and school socialisation and inclusion of ethnic Hungarian Deaf living in Bihor County (Romania) viewed in their micro- and macro-social dynamics, focusing on the following main research questions:
Pre-school Family Socialization, Language Use and Identity
QA2 How do ethnic minority parents address the Deaf children’s communication needs in pre-school years?
QA2 What solutions, early development opportunities are available for the child, in what language(s)?
QA3 What is the difference between the socialization characteristics of children of hearing and Deaf ethnic minority parents in terms of language acquisition and identity?
B. School socialization, language use and identity
QB1 What is the significance of the Hungarian minority language special school with regard to the preservation and development of national identity and ethnic language / sign language identity of ethnic Hungarian Deaf?
QB2 How do the socialization into Deaf culture and the sign language/oral Hungarian language relate to the formal and informal educational environment and practice of the school?
QB3 How should be interpreted and what are the implications of the enrollment in the Romanian language school for the development of the identity of the Deaf children and the further process of their linguistic and cultural socialization?
The researched population is made up Deaf persons who cumulate the following characteristics: 1. Are residents of Bihor County; 2. Are of adults age (18 years or older); 3. At least one parent is tied to the Hungarian national-ethnic community; 4. In their case, at least one of the following conditions of belonging to Deaf culture / Deaf community is met: membership of the Association of the Deaf; graduation from special school for Deaf; Deaf parent(s); membership of religious congregations for Deaf. Over the research, the following methods and techniques have been applied: a) Statistical data collection was carried out from the records for the Deaf in Bihor (members of the Association of the Deaf), based on personal files, which provide information concerning major aspects of the Deaf community members life. The register includes files of around 600 people. Out of these members, an estimated one quarter supposedly has at least one parent of ethnic Hungarian descent. b) Questionnaire based survey among members of the ethnic Hungarian Deaf community in Oradea and their ethnic Romanian spouses. The surveyed population included 111 subjects, of which 89 are ethnic Hungarians and 22 Romanian spouses. I tried to contact every Deaf person with Hungarian ethnic background, so the survey included all recorded and active ethnic Hungarian members of the Deaf community who could be reached. c) Life path interviews with ethnic Hungarian Deaf individuals and their ethnic Romanian spouses (30 persons) selected on the basis of relevant typological criteria, in order to reveal their deeper motives and personal ways of reaching life-shaping decisions, the subjective means of experiencing key events occurred in one's life, and their influence on education, language use and identity. d. Family case studies, in order to allow the tracing of language learning, language use, and identity transfer within the family in a greater time horizon and its analysis in connection to the external factors and internal changes influencing family life. e. Structured interviews with highly experienced educators from the only one existing Hungarian language special school for Deaf in Romania, located in Cluj (Kolozsvár/Klausenburg). The problems addressed during the interviews concerned: past and current educational practices; parent educational options and motivations; relations between teachers, pupils, and parents; the Deaf community within the special school; further study and vocational mobility opportunities of the graduates; and factors influencing their linguistic and cultural identity development.
The search for solutions in the case of the multiple minority situation of ethnic Hungarian Deaf children in Romania is especially difficult, as there is not just one type of cause generating social disadvantage (deafness or ethnic-national belonging), and various combinations needs to be considered. The real possibility of enhancing opportunities resides in inclusive solutions based on linguistic and cultural pluralism, which would presuppose the transformation of the whole education and social integration system. There is a need to establish a new legal and institutional framework which could provide a favourable social environment for the recognition and enhancement of the complex and multiple identities so much characteristic for ethnic minority Deaf. The right for mother tongue education of ethnic minority Deaf children presupposes the development of a school network (from kindergarten to high school), where beyond learning Romanian language, Deaf pupils of minority ethnic belonging have the opportunity to become familiar with all communicational means specific to their ethnic-national identity and to make full use of them both within formal an informal educational contexts. For the success of the inclusion it would be essential that hearing parents, especially mothers, become familiar with sign language, learn about Deaf culture, the communication needs of their Deaf children and the effective ways of adaptation. In the case of Deaf parents' family, however, where sign language knowledge is self-evident, the linguistic and cultural components of ethnic identity should be vigorously strengthened by early intervention, family support and intervention during the pre-school education.
Butler, R., Skelton, T. & Valentine, G. (Fall, 2001). Language barriers: Exploring the world of the deaf. Disability Studies Quarterly, 21(4), 42-52. Clyne, M. (2005). Australia's language potential. University of New South Wales Press. Higgins, M., & Lieberman, A. M. (2016). Deaf Students as a Linguistic and Cultural Minority: Shifting Perspectives and Implications for Teaching and Learning. Journal of Education, 196(1). Lane, H. (1997): Why the Deaf are Angry? In: Gregory, Susan és Hartley, Gillian M. (szerk.) Constructing Deafness. London és New York, Pinter, 117–120. Leigh, G., & Crowe, K. (2015). Responding to cultural and linguistic diversity among deaf and hard-of-hearing learners. In: and Marschark M. and Knoors H (eds.) Educating deaf learners: Creating a global evidence base, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 68-91. Macrory, G. (2006). Bilingual language development: what do early years practitioners need to know?. Early Years, 26(2), 159-169. Ohna, S. E. (2003). Education of deaf children and the politics of recognition. Journal of deaf studies and deaf education, 8(1), 5-10.
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