n Mousaion - The ability of adolescents with hearing loss in special schools to access and use academic material in three provinces in South Africa

Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



This study aimed to determine the ability of a specific group of adolescents with hearing loss to access and use academic information in order to establish the kind of support that might be required for adolescents with hearing loss. Adolescents with hearing loss who have a language delay because of this loss experience problems with access to formal as well as informal academic material. Children with severe hearing loss need special education and the teacher should receive in-service training. This is necessary because children with this degree of hearing loss have a serious language delay, and need special help in all language skills, language-based academic subjects, vocabulary, grammar, pragmatism, reading and writing (HMIE 2007:16). They also have a lack of prior knowledge to assist them in all their language skills (HMIE 2007:26). The participants of this study were adolescents with hearing loss, and teachers and media teachers at special schools that cater for adolescents with hearing loss. Questionnaires were distributed to 326 adolescents with hearing loss, 19 teachers, and six media teachers. In addition, the researcher observed 48 adolescents with hearing loss while they completed an assignment in a media centre. The results indicated that these young people found it difficult to access and use academic information. They used academic information mainly during class and after school when they needed to, and there was not much consensus as to the purpose for which they used it. Over 50% of the participants were not able to trace other sources. Various factors were identified which influenced their ability to access and to use academic information, such as degree of hearing loss, literacy skills and information literacy skills, communication and poor cognitive skills. In the media centre the adolescents were not able to execute an assignment on academic information with ease. This was because they had difficulties with bibliographical details and a lack of knowledge about finding and accessing information (HMIE 2007:26). Suggestions are made for an information literacy programme for adolescents with hearing loss so that they could develop the relevant skills to access and use academic information.

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