Author: Katharine Edwards, M.A.T., Trinity University

For teachers working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, knowledge of specific teaching strategies is important when promoting a healthy learning environment; however, schools must also focus on the families and cultures of individual students.  This not only helps students make connections, but it also opens the doors for parents to become involved in their child’s education. 

Baker and Baker (1997) affirmed in their article “Educating Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Bilingual-Bicultural Education” that in the United States, over ninety percent of children who are Deaf or hard of hearing are born into hearing families (p. 2).  This can be difficult for the hearing parents because they may not be accustomed to interacting with children who are hard of hearing or deaf.  Suddenly, parents are not only looking at the general concerns when raising a child.  In addition, they must also address subjects such as different forms of communication, medical issues, effective and available resources and support, and the influence of the Deaf culture in their child’s life.  Schools and professionals thus become integral parts of families’ lives by providing support and resources for the family.

This chapter will discuss the Deaf community's concerns regarding children who are Deaf or hearing impaired.  It will also look at issues regarding cross-cultural interactions and strategies for teachers working with both students and families.  Family interaction and support in education plays a significant role in the success of students; thus different strategies to engage families in their child’s education will also be addressed.