Different options for deaf education in Ireland mean childrens’ needs are better understood with today’s new hearing technologies, plus new educational resources and models.
Over 3,300 deaf children are at mainstream schools in Ireland (DES, 2011) being taught in English with support from the Visiting Teacher Service.
Each parent of a deaf child worries about giving their child a fulfilling and beneficial education that also ensures a well-rounded childhood.
Choosing A Schooling Option
The specific needs of each deaf child directly impacts their educational needs. Many areas of a child’s life impact their education, like their personality, family background, age of detection, degree of deafness, hearing devices used, spoken language ability and so on.
It is easy to see how a parent of a deaf child spends time considering the best educational option for their child. No path is right or wrong, but some options suit one child better.
Three options to educate a deaf child in Ireland:
- Full mainstreaming (child in mainstream class, maybe with resources)
- Part-mainstreaming (child in mainstream; time with specialist teacher)
- Attending a specialist school for deaf students (Ireland has three)
Full mainstreaming is often seen as the best way to educate a deaf child. They are integrated into a classroom of hearing children where they are treated no differently and learn to deal with life’s challenges while in school.
Mainstreaming for a child with profound deafness is best with digital hearing-aids or a cochlear implant with access to a soundfield or FM system. Partial mainstreaming can be better for a child who has additional education needs.
Ireland has several mainstream schools with units for deaf students which currently don’t offer AVT approaches, unlike in Australia. In line with international best practice, AVT services need to be provided in line with parent wishes and new technologies, noting that other countries have a greater number of mainstreaming models (full and partial).
Mainstreaming Models In Other Countries
In the UK, Henbury Court Primary School in the UK works to fully integrate deaf children into mainstream schools. Their teachers wear FM microphones for children with a cochlear implant to hear more easily in a classroom.
Another example of educational options for deaf children, is the Willie Ross School in the U.S. This example differs as it is a school for deaf children, but with a twist; it offers children the opportunity to be slowly immersed in mainstream classes through inclusion in some classes with hearing peers.
While no educational option is superior to another, parents need to choose a route that best suits the needs of their own child. Ireland is behind in diversifying educational options and supports for deaf children and this issue needs addressing.
(compiled by Nicola Fox)
- ‘There Are Other Educational Choices Available’
- The Visiting Teacher Service ‘Is Often Forgotten’
- Home-Preschool Supports: A Mum’s Positive Story
- Insights To IDK’s Information Session (March 4th, 2011)