Title

Communication Resources for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children in Mississippi: Parents’ Perspectives

Date of Award

5-2021

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Speech Pathology and Audiology BA

Department

Speech and Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Joann Judge, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation; Kinesiology

Abstract

A parent’s ability to communicate with their child through formative years may often be taken for granted, as the options for such communication seem intuitive and apparent. However, hearing parents of children with hearing loss must not only make a choice between several communication methods, but they must also navigate an environment where the methodologies are not clearly delineated. Blaiser and colleague provide succinct descriptions of the most common methods which can be chosen. These methods include listening and spoken language systems, manual-visual systems, and systems combining these two modalities (Blaiser & Bargen, 2018). This choice is often challenging because many factors impact the accessibility to and availability of each. Availability of communication resources can vary across geographic locations, and absence of access to certain services render some options moot. It has been reported that rural areas are especially lacking in such resources (Furno et al., 2020; Meadow-Orlans et al., 2003).

Consequently, the purpose of this study is twofold: Primarily, it explores variables that may affect the communication choices of hearing parents for their deaf or hard of hearing child. Secondarily, it seeks to gain a better understanding of these choices, investigating why parents chose their communication method and exploring the choices they felt they had available. A mixed methods research design was employed to address the question: What factors contribute to the communication choices made by hearing parents of deaf and hard of hearing children in the state of Mississippi? Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed on the data to reveal correlations between variables and themes in the decision-making processes of parents. The results indicated correlations between (a) parent age and child age, (b) parent proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL) and child proficiency in ASL, and (c) parent ratings of communicative support in recreational environments and community environments. Themes identified in the qualitative data were (a) general knowledge on hearing loss prior to the child’s diagnosis, (b) support systems, and (c) methods of communication used.

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