Perspectives of Successful Adults who are Deaf

John Luckner, Ed.D.

National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities

Perspectives of Successful Adults who are Deaf


Deafness = Deficiency, Dysfunction, and Deviance.


Individuals who are deaf:


Current Views of Deafness


IDEA says

"Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society."

Sec. 687 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997

National Association of the Deaf

"The general public needs information about the lives of the vast majority of deaf and hard of hearing individuals who have achieved optimal adjustments in all phases of life, have well-integrated and healthy personalities, and have attained self-actualized levels of functioning, all with or without the benefits of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices"

National Association of the Deaf, 2000, p. 1

Purpose of Study

Sample Selection


Letter


Definition of Success


Participants


Demographic Information of Participants


Professions


Data Collection


Interview Questions

  1. You have been nominated as a successful deaf adult. Why do you think you have become successful?
  2. How has your family helped you become successful?
  3. How has your education contributed to your success?
  4. How has your personality contributed to your success?
  5. How has your social life contributed to your success?

Interview Questions (continued)

  1. What advise do you have for children who are deaf to help them become successful?
  2. What would you recommend to parents?
  3. What would you recommend to teachers?
  4. What would you recommend to employers?
  5. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Data Analysis


Results


Q1: Why do you think you have become successful?

  1. Worked hard.
    "Hard work counts a lot in your success in life, because if you do nothing, you get nothing"
  2. Received ongoing support from their family.
    "Really what made me successful are my parents."

Q2: How has your family helped you become successful?

  1. Acceptance of the hearing loss.
    "I was always included in different activities, I would go to basketball, baseball, church events, youth group. I was always included. My parents were really good at treating me equal."
  2. Emphasizing education, specifically learning to read and write.
    "My parents always told me that education is really important. That message stuck with me"
  3. Wide variety of family members mentioned as person who inspired them.

Q3: How has your education contributed to your success?

Group One - Positive, education was high quality.


Group Two - Negative experience in school.


Q4: How has your personality contributed to your success?

  1. Motivated
  2. Hard working

  3. Enjoy overcoming challenges.
    "My personality is I can do it! I am always doing more than needed"
     
    "I like to have challenges...my personality really pushes me to do new things."


Q5: How has your social life contributed to your success?


Q6: What advice do you have for children who are deaf?

  1. Set goals.
    "Don't think or let people tell you 'you can't.' You never know unless you try. If you want something really bad, go for it. Don't let anyone stop you."

  2. Develop friendships.
    "Find the right group of friends you can trust. Keep communication open and don't give up. Find someone to trust and who can support you through hard times."

Q6: Continued

  1. Become skilled at reading and writing.
    "Read many many books, magazines, newspapers and new information on computers."
  2. Learn to advocate for themselves.
    "I tell them to be brave. You have to be brave. There are so many things you have to do different than other kids. You need to tell teachers if something is not clear or ask questions, and practice now while you're young. It becomes easier for you."

Q7: What would you recommend to parents?

  1. Communicate with their child.
    "The key is communication. It doesn't matter if it is ASL, SEE, Oral, who cares. It's important that the child can communicate."
     
    "Communicate, not just the mom, but the whole family with the child."
  2. Provide ongoing support and to be involved in their child's life.
    "Always be there for the child, listen to them, talk about goals for the future and encourage them."

Q7: Continued

  1. Expose children to many different activities and experiences.
    "Don't hold them back too much. Exposure, show them the world."
     
    "Don't overprotect children. They need to make mistakes and learn consequences. Let them experience real life."

Q8: What would you recommend to teachers?

  1. Be caring and have high expectations for students.
    "Believe in the children and their potential,"
  2. Improve their ability to communicate using ASL.
    "I think teachers need more skills at signing to communicate and gain the interest of each child."
  3. Participate in the activities of the Deaf community.
    "Be involved with the Deaf community, have role models, tell stories, socialize."

Q9: What would you recommend to employers?

  1. Overcome their misconceptions about deafness.
    "I want to show them that just because I am deaf doesn't mean I am limited or low functioning."
     
    "See the person, not the disability."
  2. Get to know the employee who is deaf as an individual.
    "It is important to remind people that "Yes I am deaf, but the next deaf person won't be like me. So accept differences and see what they have to offer."

Q10: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

  1. Exposure and diverse experiences.
    "The key is exposure"
     
    "Deaf children should grow up to participate and socialize to become successful."
  2. Importance of family love and support for the child.
    "I feel that deaf children can be successful with family support. You can't just stop at school. Learning is 24 hours! You need constant exposure with love and support and encouragement,"
  3. The significance of setting goals.
    "Set up goals! Go for it. Do it."

Discussion: Limitations

Reoccurring Themes

  1. Self-determination
  2. Family support

Closing Thoughts