Commenced in January 2007
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Developing a Practice Guideline for Enhancing Communication in Hearing Families with Deaf Children

Authors: Nomataru P. Gontse, Lavanithum Joseph


Deafness coupled with a lack of support and resources in developing countries poses a serious threat to the well- being of children. The mismatch between the needs of persons with disabilities and the resources available to them is a key factor in service provision in resource constrained contexts. Furthermore, deafness in children is the most common childhood sensory disorder in developing countries, and as such seriously affected with regard to resource constraints. This paper discusses the issues and research protocol for a Ph.D. study that aims to develop a practice guideline that is contextually sensitive and includes an interdisciplinary approach that will improve the outcomes of learners and the relationships in hearing households with deaf learners in rural areas of the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. The guideline developed will consider the lived experiences of deaf children and their hearing families on the impact deafness has on their relationships and communication at home. Ethical clearance for the study has been obtained. The methodology is a mixed-methods approach in the form of a survey using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with deaf learners in primary and high school and their hearing parents to get their perspective on the impact deafness has on their relationships and communication at home. The study is conducted using adolescent learners from Grades 7 to 12 (excluding learners younger than 12 years and older than 21 years). An audiologist, teachers, and support staff will also give their views on how the intervention is currently done and possible suggestions on how management can be done differently. Data collection will be conducted in isiXhosa by the researcher, as isiXhosa is dominant in this region. The interviews will be conducted in South African Sign Language by the sign language interpreter for deaf learners and educational professionals. An expected outcome for this study is the development of recommendations and a practice guideline for deaf children diagnosed late from rural or under-resourced environments. To ensure the implementation of the findings, in the end, professionals will be given feedback on the outcomes of the study so that they can identify areas within their practices that require updated knowledge. The developed guideline is expected to have an impact on the Department of Education policies both regionally and nationally, providing recommendations for a strategic management plan and practice guidelines for this vulnerable and marginalized population. The IsiXhosa specific context could be generalized to other similar contexts.

Keywords: Deafness, family-centred approach, early identification, rural communities.

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