Mainstreaming Then and Now

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The information in this document was contributed by Dr. Jay R. Lucker at 14 Sep 1995.
The idea for this document came from Cathy Brandt.

For more information, you may contact:

Jay R. Lucker,Ed.D., CCC-A/SLP
Assistant Professor and Supervisor of Audiology
St. John's University
Speech & Hearing Center
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY  11439

One person's observations on mainstreaming

Cathy Brandt posted a request for information regarding how mainstreaming has changed over the past 10 years. Here's one "ole timers" observations.

Interestingly, I have been involved in mainstreaming children who are deaf and HoH for the past 25 years. Wow ! what changes over that time period. As for the past 10 years, yes, a lot of changes.

10 years ago, mostly all of the children in my area who were deaf were either in schools for the deaf or in self contained programs for the deaf. Most mainstreaming was considered the fact that the self contained programs were in so-called regular schools. So, on a daily basis, all of the kids who were deaf met children with normal hearing before the start of school, at lunch, at the end of school, in the halls, etc. Some of the kids were mainstreamed into certain classes or activities in the non-departmentalized levels (elementary school).

Sometimes, the so-called Deaf Class would join a Hearing Class for a joint activity such as a movie, etc. At recess, all of the children were able to intermingle.

However, this was not real mainstreaming as I would define it. For some kids who were deaf, they may have been in a regular hearing class for most or all of the day going to the teacher of the deaf or to the special class for the children who were deaf for one hour or a part of the day (like 1/2 day). This was the best mainstreaming at that time.

10 years ago, many children who were HoH were in regular classes for normal hearing kids going for support services incl. the teacher of the deaf or the class for kids who were deaf for one hour a day or more as needed or defined in the IEPs. Most of the kids who were HoH were not in self contained classes nor were they at schools for the deaf. Only more involved (like multiply handicapped) were not in regular classes for the normal hearing kids with support services.

Now, 10 years later. Little has changed in most school districts, but in many, the children who are deaf are more placed in regular normal hearing classes with support services. 10 years ago, the kids would say, my class is the class for the deaf and I go to the other class(es). Today, more kids who are deaf and HoH say, "My class is the regular and I go to the class or teacher for the deaf at these times per day or per week.

Also, 10 years ago, most multiply handicapped children who were deaf or HoH were in self contained classes or schools for the deaf. Now, many multiply handicapped kids who are also deaf or HOH are in regular classes with support services or are split between the regular class and the class for the deaf.

Also, 10 years ago, there were very few support personnel in the regular classes with the kids who were deaf. They were using FM systems when appropriate, but all were oral or used TC only in the programs for the deaf or with their friends. Today, there are interpreters, notetakers, and other support personnel in the regular classes which in many schools is the norm. Also, it is not surprising to see TC used in regular hearing classed by some of the teachers or by the interpreters.

The acceptance of the kids who are deaf and HoH into the regular classes is greater today regarding allowing them to have differences and support. In contrast, the success of mainstreaming for kids who were (especially) deaf and HoH was their abilities to function orally. In some limited cases, I have even seen kids who are deaf and mostly use sign in regular hearing classes with interpreters for both understanding teachers and for speaking in class. This was unheard of 10 years ago. 10 years ago, all children who were primarily manual had to be in schools for the deaf or self contained classes for the deaf. This was not really mainstreaming.

What do I see for the future ?

Hopefully as more and more schools and teachers encounter kids who are deaf and HoH, such children will become part of the norm. I feel that in many cases, the classroom teachers may decide to use TC to communicate with all of the kids in the class, and interpreters will be used less often because of that. I believe that certain programs will concentrate to have large numbers of kids who are deaf and HoH in specific schools so that these kids are not one or two isolated kids in a district, but are part of a regular group of kids with their own special needs. All kids will begin to see that whether you have normal hearing, are hard of hearing, or are deaf, you're just another kid in our school !

Last update date: 
2005 Nov 28