The response of educators to teaching learners with hearing impairments in a mainstream school
Author(s)Van Staden, Vivienne Jean
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This study focuses on the response of teachers in teaching learners with varying degrees of hearing impairments in an inclusive environment. The comparatively recent political changes in South Africa have resulted in a new Constitution (RSA, 1996a) grounded in principles of democracy, equity and a respect for the rights and dignity for all. The South African Schools Act (RSA1996b) embodies the principles of the Constitution by asserting the rights of all learners to equal access to basic and quality education, The new policy in education, put forward by the Department Of Education 2001, White Paper 6:Special Needs Education: Building an Inclusive education and training system is in accordance with the international trend towards inclusive education, where ALL learners, including learners with barriers to learning, have a right to an education of their choice, in public education facilities. This policy reflects the commitment of the South African government to address the diversity in the learner population. There is widespread acceptance of the central role that educators can play in meeting learners' needs within the classroom. In the implementation of the inclusive education policy, the educators play a pivotal role. In international literature, where inclusion has been studied, it has been found that accommodating the diverse needs of all learners as inclusively as possible requires significant reform and restructuring of schools. This requires the redefinition of the role of educators. However this involves more than the changing of an educator's classroom practices but requires an ongoing whole-school development approach which actively involves all roleplayers. Therefore, the goal of this study is to gain insight on how educators in a primary school with learners with hearing impairments, respond to the challenges of teaching learners with diverse needs in an inclusive setting. As a result it is hoped that a greater understanding surrounding the suppcirt of educators in the implementation of inclusive education will be achieved. The design of the study was qualitative and involved formulating a literature review. The literature review discusses the development of the inclusion philosophy, the dynamics of educational change and the restructuring of the role of the educator through a whole school development approach. Data was collected through semistructured interviews with four primary school educators who had taught learners with hearing impairments. From the analysis of the data it became apparent that a strong network of support is required for educators to implement inclusive education successfully.