Papers & Workshops



Does Inclusion Sound Right? SA Hearing Impaired Learner's Struggle for the Protection of Individual Rights


Dr Cherie Swanepoel - to be presented by Dr Brian Flaherty

Senior Lecturer, Department of Orthopedagogics, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa

South Africa is known for its intense diversity regarding different cultures and indigenous languages. Hearing impaired learners form part of yet another culture with its own mother tongue language currently confronted with the danger of inclusion without additional support, hence a struggle for the protection of individual rights. Deaf learners and educators have stressed that the deaf do not generally accept deafness as a disability, but perceive it as a difference - a form of diversity. Many feel that this difference requires a special kind of educational experience. "Inclusion means that a student with special education needs attends a general school program, enrolled in age-appropriate classes 100% of the school day" (Idol, 1997:384). The inclusion of deaf and hearing impaired learners has been controversial. Educators involved with the training programs of deaf and hearing impaired learners, find it difficult to cooperate with the "inclusion thrust", regarding this paradigm shift as an illusion with no prognosis of success. Inclusion is viewed as insensitive to the differences that define the deaf culture. The argument is further made that the developmental task of the deaf child is to learn to function in a non-hearing environment. Many believe that the difficulties which deaf learners have in learning and developing social skills may be exacerbated in regular classrooms. In a recent study executed in South Africa, the opinions of special needs educators, other significant role players involved with children with communication barriers as well as hearing impaired learners are recorded with specific reference to the implementation of inclusion. Raters were asked to describe the degree to which academic achievement, social adjustment and the learner's self-confidence would be influenced by inclusion. Overall impressions on the implications of inclusion as well as the differences between inclusion and mainstreaming were recorded.
  Presentation Format: 45 min. paper

RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

5-9 July 2000