What Makes Inclusion of Deaf Children a Success?
Inclusion is an educational option that focuses on acceptance of children with disabilities rather than exclusion in the classrooms and society. Such a model of learning allows deaf children to pursue their education in the company of their peers who are not disabled. The program offers support and provides the necessary assistance to both students and teachers to ensure optimal learning opportunities in school.
Emotional and Social Development
Dr. Lerman, director of Inclusive Schools Climate Initiative (ISCI), attributes the success of the inclusion program in schools to the fact that the program addresses emotional, social and academic development of students. It also creates an inclusive climate where students feel safe, respected and accepted. The "buddy" system, for example, is whereby two or three "buddies" are assigned to a deaf child to offer support and assistance. The system can be extended to the playground, transportation mode and extracurricular activities.
Creates Positive Deaf Identity
Schools that promote inclusion of deaf children ensure all students receive equal opportunities by discouraging favoritism of the deaf students because of their disability. The inclusion helps build self-esteem and stimulate self-sufficiency. Regular interactions with older deaf children within the school and adult positive role models also helps promote a positive deaf identity.
Preparation for the Hearing World
Deaf schools create a safe but secluded environment that makes interaction with the hearing world difficult for deaf children after school. However, schools that promote inclusion allow the children to interact with the hearing world on a daily basis from a young age 1. Creation of healthy social relationships with peers who have typical hearing has positive effects on social acceptance and helps children appreciate diversity.
Proximity to Friends and Family
Most deaf students attending deaf schools are forced to board, either due to the far location of a school or to avoid the dangers of commuting. Boarding keeps them away from their families and friends, a support system that is necessary for their growth. Local schools with inclusion programs allow children to live at home where the parents, in conjunction with teachers, can monitor their growth and development and address problems as they arise.
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