Essay on The Bilingual Model of Deaf Education

Essay on The Bilingual Model of Deaf Education

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The search for the most effective way to educate deaf students has long been filled with controversy, due to strong advocacy for conflicting approaches. The bilingual model of deaf education has been in place in many schools for the deaf for the past 20 years (Drasgow, 1998), and while many advocates of a strictly oral approach to deaf education discount its success, it is still a viable and appropriate option for deaf students with severe to profound hearing loss. In this paper I will describe historical perspectives around deaf education and discuss hearing loss and language acquisition for deaf children. I will provide justification for the continued use of the bilingual model against arguments in favour of a strictly oral approach. In addition, l will address challenges inherent to the bilingual model and conclude with suggested changes that may benefit deaf students’ language learning and literacy outcomes.

History of Deaf Education
According to Hutchison (2007), the pivotal moment in the early history of deaf education was the International Congress of the Education of the Deaf, which met in Milan in 1880. Prior to that time, sign language was widely used as the language of instruction in schools for the deaf around the world. At the Milan conference, leading educators passed several resolutions that effectively banned sign language from classrooms, stating the “incontestable superiority of speech over signs in restoring the deaf-mute to society, which gives him a fuller knowledge of language” (Hutchison, 2007, p. 481) and declaring that “the oral method should be preferred to that of signs in the education and instruction of deaf-mutes” (Hutchison, 2007, p. 481). Not only did the resolutions disallow the use of the na...


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...n language and the development of literacy. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 13(2), 175-186. doi: 10.1080/13670050903474085
Nicholas, J. & Geers, A. (2007). Will they catch up? The role of age at cochlear implantation in the spoken language development of children with severe to profound hearing loss. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 50(4), 1048-1062. Retrieved from
www.cinahl.com/cgi-bin/refsvc?jid=1426&accno=2009651293

Sparrow, R. (2010). Implants and ethnocide: Learning from the cochlear implant controversy. Disability & Society, 25(4), 455-466. doi:10.1080/09687591003755849
Strong, M., & Prinz, P. (1997). A study of the relationship between asl literacy and English literacy. Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 2(1), 37-46. Retrieved from http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org.eproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/content/2/1.toc

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