NL Association of the Deaf

Inclusive Education

Position Statement on Inclusive Education                                                                 March 2012

Deaf children have the right to an education.

Inclusive Education for the deaf means the education of students with various hearing levels in a way that addresses the students’ individual differences and needs. An inclusive education program for Deaf students must be customized to address each individual student’s unique needs.

Ideally, this process involves:


Due to closures of schools for the deaf throughout the world and in particular the Newfoundland School for the Deaf, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf (NLAD) has no choice but to accept Inclusive Education for students who are deaf.

NLAD recognizes that while Inclusive Education in public schools may be acceptable and suitable for many students who are deaf, it may not be for all students. Generally, the Deaf child in a regular school is isolated due to the language/communication difference. Inclusive Education must allow each student to feel respected, confident and safe so he or she can learn and develop to his or her full potential. It is based on a system of values and beliefs centered on the best interests of the students. It must promote social cohesion, belonging, and active participation in learning, a complete school experience and positive interactions with peers and others in the school community.


The Government of Newfounland and Labrador needs to ensure additional professional supports and servics are avilable to students who are deaf in the Newfoundland and Labrador Inclusive Education system.  These supports and services include but are not limited to:

American Sign Language, or ASL, is a complex form of manual communication in which hands, limbs, head, facial expression and body language are used to communicate a visual-spatial language without sound. ASL is not related to spoken English, and features an entirely different grammar and vocabulary: linguistically it is a complete, natural and fully realized language in its own right.

Acquisition of the spoken language is probably the major education challenge for deaf children. The ability to speak, read and write the language of the majority society greatly facilitates the life of the deaf person, but learning to speak is not a simple task as many factors influence this acquisition for example residual hearing, family involvement and learning ability.

Effective communication in American Sign Language (ASL) demands consistent visual attention to the signer unlike spoken communication where visual attention to the speaker is not required.

Early social interactions in which the deaf child can learn ASL and the appropriate linguistic behavior as well as facilitate cognitive development are crucial.

Studies on ASL and on the development of language in deaf children provide evidence that deaf children exposed to a signed language acquire it in the mind the same way as hearing children learn a language spoken in their environment. Deaf children process information in signs and do not translate the signs into corresponding English words.

It is imperative that for Deaf children be exposed to ASL early in life for language acquisition. The acquisition of a natural sign language supports the acquisition of a spoken language.

Successful education of deaf children is dependent on the use of ASL as the language of instruction. Deaf children cannot achieve complete mastery and native fluency in a language to which they have but limited and conditional access. The significance of language for human life is indisputable. Many children born deaf are not given the opportunity to discover unconditionally the world of language early in life. It impacts not only the linguistic environment but also the child’s psychological, social and emotional development.

Early exposure to a signed language has permanent linguistic benefits. Sign Language competency is positively related to spoken language literacy. It is clear that deaf children need to be educated in Sign Language. Deaf children educated bilingually often achieve high reading and writing skills.

Language is connected to our identity, self-awareness and inner being. Language connects people. Individuals using the same language often feel a special bond. The language tie tends to be stronger than other human characteristic. Our linguistic development is linked to our cognitive, social and personality development as well as to our self-esteem and identity.

Deaf children need deaf adults as role models and peers with whom they can interact and play.

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