Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from J.K., Pennsylvania

When working with deaf students from hearing families without a lot of signing skills, what do you suggest for imparting proper social behavior and emotional stability for interpreters? The students seem to look to the interpreters as substitute parents or as friends. Sometimes they come from broken and/or poor families.

Question from J.K., Pennsylvania. Posted June 7, 2011.
Response from Kevin Williams - NTID

One of the important concepts for the educational team serving deaf and hard-of-hearing studentsin inclusive settings is that the primary ‘client’ in this setting is the teacher, and NOT the student.  That being said, it is imperative that the interpreter develop a relationship with the child, much like ANY educator in a classroom setting would develop.   This, however, is NOT in leu of the relationship the educator must ALSO develop with his or her deaf student.  The educational interpreter is only one adult professional in the inclusive setting.    The regular educator, the guidance counselor, the itinerant teacher, the speech-language pathologist, and the educational interpreter not only have educational-literacy goals for this ‘included’ child/student, but also *must* work as a team providing the social-literacy opportunity and support needed for the D/deaf child to become an active and healthy participant (versus depository) in the classroom community.    Behavioral and communication guidelines need to be clearly charted during the IEP meeting and shared with all professional staff, the student, and the student’s primary care giver(s).