Graduate project

Attitudes of normal-hearing college students toward their hearing-impaired classmates

Post-secondary educational opportunities for hearing impaired people in the United States are limited in quantity and scope. There are presently three institutions functioning to educate hearing-impaired people eat the undergraduate college level on a large scale basis. Gallaudet College in Washington, D. C. offers a four-year Liberal Arts education to a student body entirely comprised of hearing-impaired people. The National Technical Institute in Rochester, New York operates an integrated prograr.1 with Rochester Institute of Technology. N.T.I.D. students share the educational facilities with normal-hearing students. In addition, the hearing-impaired students receive extensive support services to aid their acclimation to the post-secondary educational experience. A large portion of the N.T.I.D. students are pursuing certificate programs that lead to neither two-year associate degrees nor four-year bachelor degrees. At San Fernando Valley State College in Northridge, California, hearing-impaired students are enrolled in classes with normal- hearing students. They receive the benefit of support-services also. The San Fernando Valley State students do not have the opportunity to select a two-year associate degree program. This school is the only one in the country whose hearing-impaired students are sharing facilities with normal-hearing students and pursuing bachelor degree study. As greater value is placed upon post-secondary education, facilities to serve the hearing-impaired in this capacity must be increased. Educators are now faced with big decisions about what type of program best meets the needs of hearing-impaired students. Are large programs geared exclusively for the deaf the best choice? Is it advantageous to attempt large-scale integration programs such as N.T.I.D? How effectively do hearing-impaired students function in an integrated bachelor degree program? When considering an integrated program, the educator is obligated to examine it in several different perspectives. Not only is the hearing-impaired student to be considered, one must also look at the effects on the normal-hearing student. How does the norma1-hearing student feel about sharing classes with hearing-impaired people? Does the normal-hearing student feel he is short-changed because of specific allowances made to his hearing-impaired classmate? Does he find that the education he formerly received was devaluated in some way through this integration process? Does the normal-hearing student feel that he has reaped an additional educational dividend as a result of having shared an experience with a hearing-impaired person? What happens to the attitudes and preconceived notions about hearing-impaired people after the normal-hearing person has had an opportunity to matriculate with hearing-impaired people and share their experiences? This project is an effort to examine the effects of an integrated post-secondary education program on its normal-hearing participants.