Date of Award

4-2013

Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

Department

Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education

First Advisor

J. Freeman King

Abstract

Bilingual-Bicultural Education (Bi-Bi) has a positive impact on language development and social-psychological development of Deaf children (Baker, 2011; Scott, 2010; Humphries & Humphries, 2010). This development is predicated on the child’s access to American Sign Language (ASL); however, the role of Deaf culture and history in Bi-Bi is not well-defined (Ladd, 2003). Children at Bi-Bi schools and programs often acquire cultural aspects through social interactions among their Deaf acquaintances rather than in the classroom. The socialization and cultural sensitivity of Deaf children does not constitute a formal instruction and mastery in all the elements of culture, as often believed in Bi-Bi education. The cultural development through social interactions at school and in the dormitory atmosphere, extracurricular events, cultural events, and in the context of sports and competitions, is often acquired naturally and does not need direct instruction (Bahan, 2006). The rich history and artistic heritage of Deaf culture are often not transmitted until well after high school (Singleton & Tittle, 2000).

The lack of rich history and the extensive cultural heritage of Deaf people among Deaf children in secondary education might be due to the fact that over ninety percent of Deaf children are born to hearing parents (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004). The parents are not knowledgeable of Deaf history and culture; therefore, the teaching of this component of the child’s education is left in the hands of Bi-Bi schools and programs. The transmission of history and culture to Deaf children during daily interactions is impacted depending on how it is being transmitted, if at all, by Deaf children of Deaf parents, Deaf adults that qualify as role models, and faculty members of the school (Padden & Humphries, 2005; Antia, Stinson & Gaustad, 2002; Lane, Hoffmeister, & Bahan, 1996). The situation is dire enough to suggest urgency in including Deaf American culture and history in the classroom in order to enhance cultural awareness. The necessity of incorporating the culture and history of Deaf Americans as a means to motivate students to learn and develop mastery in ASL and written English is too important to be ignored (West, 2010; Small & Cripps, 2008).

Even though Deaf Education teacher training programs do offer curriculum developed to assist in incorporating the history and culture of Deaf people, there are limited materials or strategies on how to fit this into the standard core curriculum without alterations (Gallimore, 2004). The purpose of this paper was to determine what schools for the Deaf are doing today in Bi-lingual and Bi-cultural classroom programming to enrich pupils' literacy and literature skills in English and ASL by means of providing historical and cultural awareness of Deaf people.

The incorporation of Deaf American culture and history in secondary education would not only enhance the development of ASL and English, but promote a sense of pride, reinforce identity, and strengthen socio-psychological development of Deaf children (Lee, 2011; West, 2010; Obasi, 2008; Gallimore, 2004; Munoz-Baell & Ruiz, 2000; Dolnick, 1993). The children could have an enhanced sense of belonging and define their position in society as a cultural minority. Ultimately, it is the right of Deaf children to attain a heritage that rightfully belongs to them (Small & Cripps, 2008).

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