Mathews, Elizabeth S.
Mainstreaming of Deaf Education in the Republic of
Language, Power, Resistance.
PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
This thesis examines the mainstreaming of primary level deaf education in the
Republic of Ireland. Following legislation in 1998 and again in 2004, parents of
deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) children are now facilitated in sending their child
to the local school. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of
D/HH in those settings and a subsequent decline in enrolment in schools for the
deaf. No examination has been conducted, however, into the impact of
mainstreaming on the situation in Ireland, in spite of serious concerns raised
internationally about the inappropriate nature of mainstreaming for this cohort.
As a result, this thesis explores the changing geographies of deaf education in the
Republic of Ireland. Drawing on interviews with parents, teachers, and D/HH
children, it unpacks the policy, practice, and ideological foundations of
mainstreaming in the Irish system. It is particularly concerned with the power
relations at play in the system. Using theories on power by Michel Foucault and
John Allen, I analyse the changing geographies of power and resistance at play in
mainstreaming of deaf education. Historically, the field of deaf education has been
an ideological battleground between medical and social models of d/Deafness.
Changes in educational practice have typically seen a shift in the dominance of one
model over the other. With the mainstream movement, the changing geographies of
deaf education and the subsequent spatial dispersal of D/HH children from their
peers has provided an opportunity for the mass ‘normalisation’ of this cohort
through assimilation with hearing children. As a result, it threatens a social model of
Deafness by hitting at the source of traditional resistance against medicalization of
D/HH bodies: the use of Sign Language and the collective resistance facilitated by
congregation of D/HH children at residential schools.
||Deaf Education in the Republic of Ireland; Language; Power; Resistance;
||Social Sciences > Geography
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