We live in a world full ofdiversity. Every form of living and non-living being is quite unique anddifferent from each other. At times we lack words to appreciate theunimaginable creativity of God when we find that no single creation is an exactreplica of the other. A child is born in this world with its own uniqueabilities and capacities of body and mind.
Some are fortunate enough to haveextraordinary abilities or capacities, while others are averages or even sufferfrom so many deficits and deficiencies from birthonwards. This gap between theabilities and capacities of the children related to their development, learning,and adjustment found at an early stage may further be widened by the nature ofthe environmental differences encountered by them in their nourishment andeducation. It results in labeling them as unusually superior or inferior,capable or incapable in one or the other aspects of their personalitydevelopment.
Some children deviate physically, mentally,socially and educationally from normal children. Such children are calledexceptional children and they require special educational care and theiradjustment problems have to be tackled in an exceptional manner(Bala&Rao,2007).According to Bala&Rao (2007)the exceptional children can be categorized into four groups:1. Gifted children with a high level ofintelligence or a special aptitude for music, painting etc.2. Mentally retarded or challenged children witha low level of intelligence.3. Physically challenged children such as blind,deaf, dumb, etc.
, and4. Socially disadvantaged children such asorphans, destitute etc.The physically challenged includesthe hearing impaired, partially hearing impaired, or hard of hearing, partiallysighted, crippled, cerebral palsied, and those with special health problemssuch as cardiac problems, epilepsy and diabetes,the present investigation takesinto consideration hearing impaired adolescents, and hence a brief descriptionabout them.
The hearing impaired can beclassified into two types-deaf and hard of hearing. Deafness is a severedisability. Those people who are deaf have a hearing loss to the extent that itprevents understanding speech though the ear. On the other hand, people who arehard of hearing can process information from sounds and they can be benefitedby hearing aids. These two groups of people can be categorized further into varioussub-groups on the basis of Degree of hearing impairment, Causes of the deficit, and Onset of the disability, and language development.(a) Degreeof hearing impairment Degreeof hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss.
Theclassification of Clark (1981) on the basis of the degree of hearing impairmentis as follows:i. Mildhearing loss (26-40 dB loss): Children with mild hearing deficit may findit hard to follow speech, particularly in noisy situations. Theyneed full integration with the regular classes with special services andmaterials provided under the guidance of the specialists. They have difficultyin hearing distant sounds and require hearing aids or microphones with loudspeakers. ii.
Moderatehearing loss (41-70 dB loss): Those with moderate hearingdeficit have difficulty following speech without a hearing aid.Thehearing impaired need partial integration in regular schools with some classesin regular setting and some classes in special settings. They have difficultyin hearing distant sounds as well as near sounds of low frequency and pitch.They require both special training and hearing aids.iii.
Severehearing loss (71-90 dB loss): Children who have severe hearing impairmentneed self-contained programmes in partially integrated system of education. Theseverely hearing impaired rely primarily on lip-reading, even with a hearingaid.iv. Profoundhearing loss (Above 90 dB loss): Their hearing impairment is so profoundthat they cannot be benefited by integrated classes in any way. These childrenalways need special classes and special schools to study by using very specialmaterials and techniques. It is because they can neither hear distant nor nearsounds even if the sounds are above normal frequency.
They require lip readingor Sign Language for learning. (b) Causes of the deficit Wehear by channelling sounds from the environment into the external ear,converting these sounds into mechanical vibrations in the middle ear, andconverting the vibrations into the neural signals that go to the brain. Thefour major causes of hearing loss are:i. Conductivehearing loss occurs when sound does not get through the outer and middleear structures efficiently.
Any blockage of the ear canal can interfere withsound transmission. Conductive hearing loss is often caused by a buildup offluids in the middle ear due to infections. ii.Sensorineuralhearing loss occurs when sound that gets to theinner ear is not transmitted to the brain or is transmitted in a distortedmanner. Damage to the cochlea and the auditory nerve will bring aboutsensorineural hearing loss.
iii.Centralauditory processing problems results from the inability of the brain toprocess or interpret the signals that are delivered. This symbolic processingdisorder may show itself in the inability of a person to perceive sounds,discriminate among sounds, or even comprehend language that is received. Peoplewith auditory processing problems will usually have difficulty learning orusing language. iv.Mixedhearing loss occurs when a person has a combination of both a conductivehearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss.
(c)Onset of theDisability, and language development: WhiteHouse conference on Child Health and Protection (1931) provides the followingcriteria: 1. Borndefectives are those who are born with sufficient hearing loss to preventthe spontaneous acquisition of speech. The speech of these children will alwaysbe defective and they will be dumb forever.
2. Pre-lingualdeafness occurs before the development of language and speech. The speechof the affected person is retarded throughout life.3. Post-lingualdeafnessoccurs after the development of language and speech. Educationaltreatment for postlingual hearing loss usually centers on the maintenance ofspeech and learning skills that were developed prior to the onset of thehearing problem (Glover, 1931).The following are the signsand symptoms of hearing impairment:1.
Difficulties following oral presentations anddirections.2. Requires frequent repetition.3. Watches lips of teachers or other speakersvery closely.4. Turns head and leans toward speakers.
5. Uses limited vocabulary.6. Uses speech sounds poorly.
7. Shows delayed language development.9. Answers orresponds inappropriately in conversation10. Constantly turns volume up on radio ortelevision.
11. Complains of earaches, have frequent colds orear infections, or has ear discharge.12. Feels stressed out from straining to hear whatothers are saying(Mangal,2007).
8. Often does not respond when called frombehind.HearingImpairment and Sign LanguageImportance of sign languageas a communication skill for the hearing impaired was pointed out by Mangal(2007). According to him, sign language is one of the popular methods includedunder manual communication approach among the hearing impaired.
By signlanguage used for teaching communication skills to the