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Background: Many people in the deaf community view deafness as a distinct culture, with its own unique language and history. They reject the use of assistive technologies which can restore hearing for themselves and their children. However, some members of the medical and legal communities consider it unethical to deprive a child of these interventions. Learn more about this emerging conflict, as well as best practices for working with deaf and hard of hearing students in a school environment.

Methods: Peer-reviewed journals and popular publications were consulted to gather information about attitudes towards interventions such as the cochlear implant from members of the deaf community, as well the legal and medical communities. Education journals were consulted to gather information about best practices when working with deaf and hard of hearing students.

Results: There are strong opinions on both sides of this issue, with various arguments being made both for and against the use of interventions like the cochlear implant. From the perspective of K-12 educators and school counselors, making sure that students feel safe and supported at school.

Conclusions: It is not necessary for K-12 educators and school counselors to have opinions on specific assistive technologies. It is important for them to be aware of best practices for working with deaf and hard of hearing students, and to support and respect the decisions of deaf families with regards to their culture.

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VCU Graduate Research Posters

Deafness: Disability or Culture? Best Practices Regarding Controversial Interventions for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

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