The inclusion of a deaf learner in a regular school : a case study.
In South Africa, education for learners with special needs has historically been provided for within a separate system of specialized education. Over the past few years, following international trends, there have been a few informal initiatives towards integration of learners with special needs into regular schools. This study examines the placement of a hearing impaired pupil at regular primary school in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal. The subject of the study is a hearing impaired child with a severe to profound hearing loss, who was placed by parent choice into a mainstream school in the neighbourhood, from preschool level. The eleven year old subject is a standard three pupil at Bonela Primary School. A case study approach was followed. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with the subject, parents, peers and staff at the school. Document analysis was undertaken on school reports, psychological reports, test records and pupil's books. In addition, the researcher used observation in order to capture details concerning the subject's social and academic ability in a natural environment. The results of this study reveal that the hearing impaired pupil made good progress in this regular school setting, despite the fact that there were minimal curriculum adjustments made. The placement experience was inclusive in practice, and proved to be successful in terms of the overall development of the hearing impaired child in this case. Positive attitudes of school personnel and peers, support from teachers, early identification, early intervention, consistent speech therapy, strong parent support, the child's language ability and the subject's personality were key factors contributing to the success of this placement. Findings suggest it is possible to include a child with severe to profound hearing loss in a regular classroom, with minimal support services. The study has implications for current debates in South Africa on the education of Deaf children. The issue of the right of choice of the parent and the Deaf learner is a critical one, and needs to be taken into account by policy makers.