Inclusion as a shared experience: Towards a framework for inclusive management of mild to moderate hearing loss in educational contexts.
This qualitative multiple case study explores the educational experiences of students with mild to moderate hearing loss (MMHL) through in-depth interviewing towards a goal of developing a conceptual framework for understanding their inclusion. Students with MMHL, who have a disability not readily apparent or visible to others, account for an estimated 15% to 23% of the student population (Niskar et al., 2001; Science.gc.ca, 2016). These students negotiate compromised speech comprehension in adverse listening environments, inconsistent use of supportive communication strategies by teachers and peers, and social-emotional implications of negative perceptions of disability and difference (Bradley & Sato, 2004; Dalton, 2010; Leigh, 2010). Yet, few if any interventions or communication supports are provided to these students by classroom teachers. The first purpose of this research was to reveal the educational experiences of four students with MMHL from their own perspectives. The second purpose was to explore the personal and communication strengths of these students, as they negotiate learning and inclusion with MMHL in a hearing world. To enhance educators’ understanding of the nuances and implications of managing MMHL and inclusion, the third purpose of this study was to assess the potential of the Shared Burdens of Communication (SBC) conceptual framework, developed for this dissertation. With individual case analysis, the framework was found to be robust and effective in enhancing understanding of a broad range of nuanced considerations and implications of managing MMHL in educational contexts. Emerging data themes were identified as understanding speech, disclosing learning challenges, individual school experiences, disability, social identity, self-identity, and disclosing disability. In cross-case analysis, the SBC framework’s structure was determined to be overly complex as a tool for practitioners to effectively achieve clarity about the complex individual experiences of MMHL. Framework reorganization as a tripartite structure suggests that educators and researchers can readily ascertain and implement inclusive management of MMHL when considering characteristics of (a) curriculum access, learning, and behavioural implications, (b) social stigma and its implications, and (c) balanced and reciprocal support. Discussion includes a framework critique, an insiders’ perspective, and recommendations for practitioners and researchers.
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