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Educators have long argued about the best ways for Deaf children to communicate and how they should be educated. The two notions are inseparable for Deaf students who most often
learn language at school. Since the passing of IDEA, most Deaf students have moved from segregated schools to their neighborhood schools where all students might benefit from learning and socializing together—the foundations of inclusion. Might inclusion for Deaf students with multiple disabilities mean something different? In this ethnography, the authors examined the experiences of six families that had school-aged children who were Deaf-Plus and used signed language to communicate. Research questions included: 1) What were the experiences of parents navigating communication and education for their children and 2) What did inclusion mean for their children? Data collection included: Semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and focus groups. The team developed three themes: 1) External Influences on Parent’s Decision-Making Regarding Language and Communication, 2) Language and Communication Varies Among Deaf-Plus Children and Their Family Members, and 3) Struggling to Determine and Secure an Inclusive and Productive Learning Environment for Their Deaf-Plus Children. It behooves educators to consider how students’ individual characteristics might benefit learning and create improved inclusive experiences.
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