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Deafness and Education International


7(4): 206222 (2005)
DOI: 10.1002/dei.9

An Analysis of the Relationship


Between Identity Patterns of
Turkish Deaf Adolescents and the
Communication Modes Used in
Special Residential Schools for the
Hearing Impaired and Deaf
HAKAN SARI, Selcuk University, Egitim Fakultesi, Turkey
ABSTRACT
This study examined the relationship between identity patterns and the communication modes of deaf adolescents aged between 14 and 18 years in Turkey. They
were currently being educated in state residential secondary schools for the deaf.
Deaf adolescents were administered the Deaf Identity Scale presented in Turkish
using total communication modes. The instrument measuring identity choice was
administered to 90 students at three residential state schools for the deaf. Based on
the questionnaire responses, students were classified into three groups: those with a
predominant Culturally Hearing Identity, those with a primary Culturally Deaf
Identity, and those who identified with both groups a Bicultural (Dual) Identity.
Analyses focused on the relationship between the students identities and the communication methods which they reported using. The data indicated that the dual identity
was consistently associated with better communication and the use of combined
modes. Copyright 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Key words: identity patterns of the deaf, Turkish hearing impaired and deaf
adolescents, deaf communication modes, residential schools, special schools
LITERATURE
Deafness may be viewed as a social disability in the sense that auditory deprivation tends to isolate the individual from largely hearing cultures. According
to Hindley et al. (1994), deafness can also be thought of as a medical
condition defined by a series of physical, biological and temporal criteria:
better-ear average hearing loss in decibels (dB) across a range of frequencies;
type of loss conductive versus sensorineural; aetiology of deafness; and age of
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Identity Patterns of Turkish Deaf Adolescents

onset. Deafness from birth, however, can impose a severe threat to the development of a first language and spoken communication (Akcamete, 2003;
Erber, 2002; Zaitseva et al., 1999). Human communication depends, for the
most part, on language; and language, in turn, facilitates socialization and
access to the cultural knowledge of the wider society (McAnally et al., 1997;
Lynas, 1995). Erber (2002) stated that it is through the use of a language that
a person can become a fully socialized and integrated human being. People
with hearing impairment may experience the following difficulties: reduced
ability to hear weak sounds, limited range of sounds and reduced clarity of the
sounds that can be heard, rapid growth of loudness near threshold and
increased disruption from background noise.
Many values are learned by being in contact with others and depend upon
the interrelationships in the persons environment. Those interrelationships
depend to a great extent upon communication (Stinson and Whitmire, 2000).
In other words, these values can be learned by watching and imitating other
peoples behaviours, but much more comes from direct communication
between parents, teachers and other people in the community, and children
who are hearing or hearing impaired (Bandurski and Galkowski, 2004; Reed,
1994). For example, if hearing-impaired adolescents are able to interact with
hearing people, then their social, emotional and personality maturity may
develop in ways that allow them to function in hearing communities (ONeill,
1994; Bond, 1993; Webster and Wood, 1999).
Many parents of children with a hearing impairment would like to have
their children develop a primary identification with the Culturally Hearing
world (Sari, 1993; Akcamete, 2003; Bandurski and Galkowski, 2004). These
parents may feel that their society views adolescents with hearing impairments as less acceptable, or that deaf adolescents have difficulty in establishing
social relationships (Wright, 1983; Sari, 1993; Lynas, 1995). If adolescents
with hearing impairments identify with and succeed in being a part of a
Culturally Hearing world, the parents place in the culturally hearing world
may be less disturbed. If, however, parents have children who are unacceptable
to a Culturally Hearing society, this can reflect negatively on them, for they
inevitably share their childrens negative social identity (Knoors et al., 2003;
Cole and Edelmann, 1991). Sari (2003a, 2003b) and Zaitseva et al. (1999)
maintained that social and emotional development of deaf adolescents
depends upon effective communication between teachers and the deaf
students; close and friendly cooperation between them, and even the
inclusion of sign language in the educational process, may help to eliminate
many communication difficulties and to establish good relationships among
teachers and students.
According to Sari (2003a), many deaf adolescents, like their teachers, see
some merit in using a Total Communication (TC) approach for teaching
students with deafness or hearing impairment. This approach blends oral and
manual modes of communication. TC involves the use of all modalities of
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communication signs, finger spelling, lipreading, facial expression, gesture


and mime, reading, writing, drawing and amplification (Coryell and Holcomb,
1997; Hallahan and Kauffman, 1997). It also involves the use of speech in
order to develop the spoken language and oral communication of deaf
children (Sari, 1993; Eripek, 1995; Hyde and Power, 1992). By having access
to all channels of communication, it is believed that the deaf child can make
use of all his or her sensory systems to develop language and acquire effective
means of communication. The most important aspect of TC is acceptance of
the principle of using whatever means of communication promotes effective
communication and linguistic understanding by the learner. For many deaf
students this means making use of signs in order to clarify meaning. Eripek
(1995) and Sari et al. (2002) believed that this provided a number of advantages; for example, it made communication easier between deaf adolescents
and other people because if they could not understand the spoken components, deaf adolescents might understand the communication through its
signed or finger spelled components. Similarly, deaf adolescents often learn to
communicate effectively using signs in Turkish schools, but their spoken
language skills as applied to reading comprehension and written communication are often very poor (Hyde and Power, 1992; Girgin, 2003; Akcamete,
1999). This is important because, as pointed out in Webster and Wood (1999)
and Webster (1991), communication difficulties with a spoken language can
cause retardation in reading and writing skills. A majority of Turkish schools
for the deaf adopt the Total Communication approach because of its perceived
methodological inclusiveness.
Cole and Edelmann (1991) and Bat-Chava (2000) suggested that deafness
affected individuals identities so deaf adolescents may belong to one of three
cultural worlds: Culturally Deaf, Culturally Hearing and Bicultural/Dual
identities. This author also suggested that there may be potential for some
negative consequences when parents encourage their children with a hearing
impairment to identify primarily with the Culturally Hearing. Bat-Chava
(2000) suggested that identities can shift and change because most of their
deaf subjects with subsequent bicultural identities grew up in homes and
schools and initially had Culturally Hearing Identities. In late adolescence or
early adulthood, these individuals discovered sign language and encountered
deaf role models. This encounter prompted many of these individuals with
hearing identities to learn sign language and become involved in the deaf
community. However, they did not abandon some of the values learned during
childhood, such as the importance of speech, and hence regarded themselves as
Bicultural (Bat-Chava, 2000; Stinson and Whitmire, 2000). Therefore, to pass
as hearing, deaf adolescents may be encouraged to eliminate the visible effects
of their hearing impairment, even if this leads to poorer communication
functioning. For example, hearing-impaired adolescents might be able to
communicate more effectively using sign language, but may be encouraged not
to use sign, for it identifies them as deaf. The effort is to hide the impairment, or
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Identity Patterns of Turkish Deaf Adolescents

even to deny that it exists (Stinson and Whitmire, 1991; Cole and Edelmann,
1991). Weinberg and Sterrit (1986), and Cole and Edelmann (1991), in a
comparison of Culturally Deaf, Culturally Hearing and Dual identities in deaf
adolescents, maintained that a predominantly Culturally Hearing identity was
consistently associated with many factors such as poor communication with
other people and limited social relationships, whereas Bicultural or Dual identification was associated with better outcomes on all measures.
According to Hindley et al. (1994), there are a number of possible explanations for variations among deaf individuals personal development and
group affiliations. One of these explanations may be early exposure to sign
language and thus effective communication with Deaf people; or it may result
from what Meadow (1980) calls an identity match, whereby those individuals
in the deaf adolescents environments, such as peers, families and teachers
(Power et al., 1995), provide positive roles and models, and positive feelings
about deafness to the children in their care.
According to Cole and Edelmann (1991) and Bat-Chava (2000), when
deaf adolescents adopt a Culturally Deaf Identity, they identify themselves
with the Deaf Culture, accepting the use of a native sign language. Adopting a
Culturally Hearing Identity means accepting only a hearing culture which
places high value on the use of oral-auditory communication systems,
isolation from the Deaf community and a rejection of their native sign
language. A Culturally Hearing Identity can also indicate that those deaf
people may have negative attitudes towards deafness or hearing impairment
(Sari, 1993; Dilmac, 2002). Bicultural/Dual identity indicates that deaf people
affiliate with both Hearing and Deaf cultures and that this can lead to satisfactory results in academic achievement, social relationships, personal
adjustment and perceived parental acceptance (Weinberg and Sterrit, 1986;
Cole and Edelmann, 1991).
The main purpose of this study was to provide knowledge relating to:
1.
2.

The extent to which Turkish deaf adolescents see themselves as having a


specific cultural identity (defined by their deafness),
Whether or not there are factors such as communication methods used in
schools that may influence deaf adolescents identity patterns.

RESEARCH METHODS
Instrument
The instrument used in this study was the Deaf Identity Scale, developed
specifically for Weinberg and Sterrits study (1986) and used by Cole and
Edelmann (1991) in their research. More recently, Bat-Chava (2000) also
examined deaf peoples identities using both qualitative and quantitative
instruments. Bat-Chava (2000) did not use the scale developed by Weinberg
and Sterrit but developed another instrument to collect data about deaf
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identities. In addition, the researcher developed an instrument to assess the


following two factors: 1. percentage of deaf friends, and 2. level of involvement
with the Deaf community. The question on the instrument do you feel that
you are a part of the Deaf community? was scored on a three-point scale from
not at all to very much. The more elaborate Deaf Identity Scale of Weinberg
and Sterrit is composed of three subscales Culturally Hearing Identification,
Deaf Identification and Bicultural/Dual Identification. Each of the subscales
includes five statements which ask about the individuals desire to associate or
identify with, deaf, hearing, or both groups. Students respond to each of the 15
statements in a true/ false format. The research instrument was translated
into Turkish and then presented in Turkish Sign Language (TSL). It was also
piloted in Turkey before the main study commenced (see Procedure for more
detail). In this study, Cronbachs alpha values were 0.83, 0.87, and 0.77 for
dual-identity, deaf and hearing subscales respectively.
Sample
In the study, a cluster sampling procedure was adopted because it was appropriate to randomly sample classes and groups of students rather than
individuals (Slavin, 1984; Cohen and Manion, 1989; Yildirim and Simsek,
2002). Owing to the small target population (i.e., deaf adolescents in Turkey)
all deaf adolescents who were final-year students (year 8) in three Turkish
residential special schools for the deaf were involved in the study. As a result,
67 adolescent deaf boys and 23 adolescent deaf girls, aged between 14 and 18
years, from the three state residential schools completed the scales (N = 90).
These schools accept students from pre-school to high school levels. On
average, participants had attended their school for nine or ten years, starting
from six years of age. They are all residential special schools, with very few day
students attending in Ankara, Konya or Eskisehir.
According to school reports, approximately 35 per cent of the parents
communicated with their children using mainly oral methods, and approximately 55 per cent used mainly Total Communication approaches
(information about the methods of parentchild communication was not
available for about 10 per cent of the sample). Two schools Konya and
Ankara adopted a TC approach. None of the teachers in the schools was
deaf. According to the students school records, all the students had a hearing
loss in the broad category severe to profound. That is, all the students had a
better-ear hearing loss of 80 dB or greater. All the students participating in the
study had sustained their hearing loss before the age of three years.
Procedure
The identity scales were administered during free class periods. It was
explained that the scales were part of a research project being conducted
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Identity Patterns of Turkish Deaf Adolescents

through the schools and that the study focused on the perceptions of deaf
adolescents. Students were also told that there were no right or wrong
answers. All directions were given in Total Communication (speech with
Turkish sign) during the scale administration in the classroom. Practice items
were provided and students were encouraged to ask to have any parts of the
questionnaire signed or words defined if they were uncertain about them.
Sixty-eight students had requested a TC approach, in which the researcher
interpreted the items to the students using the spoken form simultaneously
with the signed form (from Turkish Sign Language), and finger spelling as
needed. It took approximately 25 minutes to complete the scales.
Weinberg and Sterrit (1986) maintained that the results involving
subscales scores should be interpreted with some caution because there were
certain questions that had different meanings for deaf subjects, and these
should be clarified by repeating and explaining them to the subjects, as
necessary. Therefore, the researcher in the study explained any ambiguous
sentences to deaf students at the time the scales were administered. This
procedure was intended to increase the reliability of the results obtained in
the study. In addition, Cole and Edelmann (1991) stressed that there was a
need to investigate deaf adolescents own concerns using culturally appropriate communication modes. Consequently, in this study the researcher
decided to administer the scales using a TC approach, as described above.
RESULTS
The results derived from the Deaf Identity Scale showed the primary identity
for each student according to their highest total scores on each scale. For
example, if a student received the highest total score on Bicultural or Dual
Identity, that scale was identified as his or her primary identification.
However, a few students demonstrated both Culturally Hearing and
Culturally Deaf identities in equal proportions. In this case, their primary
identification was given as Bicultural/Dual.
Each participants primary identity was determined by comparing his or her
total score on the Culturally Deaf Identification, the Hearing Identification,
and the Bicultural/Dual Identification subscales. It was found that a majority
of the sample (56.7 per cent) had a Bicultural/Dual Identification; next most
common was a Culturally Deaf Identity (33.3 per cent), followed by a
Culturally Hearing Identification (10 per cent) (Table 1).
Tables 2, 3 and 4 show the patterns of results for each school.
Table 2 shows that similar proportions of boys and girls had Bicultural/Dual
Identity. Equal numbers of girls chose Culturally Hearing and Culturally Deaf
identities respectively, while in the case of boys, a higher proportion identified
primarily with the Culturally Deaf group.
Table 2 reveals that a majority of the deaf boys (65.6 per cent) and girls
(77.8 per cent) in Ankara school indicated a Bicultural/Dual Identity. At
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19/65.6
29/100

Bicultural/Dual Identity

Total

* denotes the number of students


** denotes the percentage of students
*** denotes boys
**** denotes girls

38; %42

7/24.1

Culturally Deaf Identity

Total (N; % Boys and Girls)

3*/10.3**

Culturally Hearing Identity

9/100

7/77.8

1/11.1

1/11.1

27; %30

19/100

6/31.6

1/5.3

12/63.1

8/100

1/12.5

1/12.5

6/75

G****

B***

25; %28

19/100

14/73.7

3/15.7

2/10.6

6/100

4/66.6

1/16.7

1/16.7

Deaf Childrens
School in Konya

67/100

39/58.2

11/12.2

17/18.9

Total

23/100

12/52.1

3/3.3

8/8.9

90/100

51/56.7

14/15.5

25/27.8

B/G

G/T

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School in Eskisehir

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School in Ankara

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Table I: Primary identity of deaf/hearing-impaired students in the schools

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Table 2: Primary identity for deaf/hearing-impaired students in Ankara


Boys

Girls

C Culturally Hearing Identity


A Culturally Deaf Identity
B Bicultural/Dual Identity

3
7
19

10.3
24.1
65.6

1
1
7

11.1
11.1
77.8

Total (N= 38 for Boys and Girls)

29

100

100

Eskisehir school, the majority of students identified primarily with a


Culturally Hearing Identity, with 63 per cent of adolescent deaf boys and 75
per cent of adolescent deaf girls giving this as their primary identity (Table 3).
Table 4 shows that the majority of boys in Konya residential school chose the
Bicultural/Dual Identity as their primary identity. Most of the girl students
rated a Bicultural/Dual Identity.
Overall, therefore, between 50 and 60 per cent of the adolescent deaf subjects
chose a Bicultural/Dual Identification as their primary identity, although there
were substantial differences among students at the three schools (see Table 1).
Table 3: Primary identity for deaf/hearing-impaired students in Eskisehir
Boys

Girls

C Culturally Hearing Identity


A Culturally Deaf Identity
B Bicultural/Dual Identity

12
1
6

63.1
5.3
31.6

6
1
5

75
12.5
12.5

Total (N= 27 for Boys and Girls)

19

100

100

Table 4: Primary identity for deaf/hearing-impaired students in Konya


Boys

Girls

C Culturally Hearing Identity


A Culturally Deaf Identity
B Bicultural Dual Identity

2
3
14

10.6
15.7
73.7

1
1
4

16.7
16.7
66.6

Total (N= 25 for Boys and Girls)

19

100

100

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While deaf students in Ankara and Konya rated the Bicultural/Dual


Identity primarily, students at Eskisehir gave the Culturally Hearing Identity
as their primary identification. It is notable that oral-auditory methods were
more used by staff at this last school. It was significant that only one deaf girl
in Konya rated the Dual/Bicultural Identity most highly, but in Eskisehir and
Ankara more students scored this category highly, as shown in Table 1. There
would seem to be no major differences between the identity patterns of boys
and girls in the schools.
While the size of the population under investigation and the individual
cell sizes in the tables do not lend themselves to inferential statistical analysis,
the pattern of results raises some important questions about the effects of
different communication methods used in instruction in their schools and
other communication environments on the deaf students development of
self-identity.
DISCUSSION
Although the literature on the development of deaf children and adults
suggests that they experience a range of oral-aural communication difficulties,
these suggestions are based upon research that has used parent or teacher
ratings (Hyde and Power, 1992). The present study focused on the deaf
adolescents own perceptions of their developing identity and communication
competence. According to the literature review, a predominant hearing
identity is often associated with poorer social and personal outcomes, influenced by a restriction in the capacity to develop different communication
modes (Sari, 1993; Ure, 2003). Culturally Deaf identities were frequently
related to somewhat better outcomes than Culturally Hearing identities, but
Bicultural/Dual identities were associated with the best social and personal
outcomes (Bat-Chava, 2000). Deaf children whose parents are hearing or who
grew up in homes where spoken language was the dominant mode of communication may be more likely to adopt a view of deafness as a disability, and
develop a Culturally Hearing Identity (Bat-Chava, 2000). Poor standards of
spoken language competence may be a further barrier for communication
between these parents and their children with a hearing impairment. Most of
the Turkish deaf children who participated in this study come from poor
families and do not have many social security opportunities provided for them
by the Ministry of Health. Therefore, most of the deaf adolescents have not
had hearing aids to support their oral-auditory communication development
at home or at school. The family environment is vital for deaf children
because it strongly informs the sense of identity and communication competence that they develop. In the past and even now, most hearing parents of
deaf children in Turkey have been advised not to use any kind of signs or
gestures with their children but rather to only communicate with them
through speech. However, according to Sari (1993) and Erber (2003), if a deaf
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child does not have appropriate hearing aids and receive benefits from them,
the child may have severe difficulty in developing a spoken language.
Bat-Chava (2000) concluded that the mode of communication used in a
school is also vitally important for deaf adolescents. Although some Turkish
schools use spoken language for instruction, most adopt a TC approach
(including the use of sign language, finger spelling and gesture and mime) or
in practice, simultaneous communication (a simultaneous representation of
the oral and signed components of the spoken Turkish). This approach is seen
by some Turkish educators as an accommodation to the lack of hearing aids
for many students and their limited oral communication and spoken language
development, as reflected in Hyde et al. (1995). The schools where TC is used
may foster a cultural view of deafness, and schools where TC is not used may
foster a view of deafness as a disability. In this way, communication modes
adopted within a school for the deaf may facilitate the cultural construction of
deafness; in the same way as a deaf person who has attended hearing schools is
immersed in a hearing culture and often absorbs the view of deafness as a
disability.
It is interesting, therefore, that the predominant identity chosen across all
subjects was the Bicultural/Dual Identity. This may be a reflection of the
relative influence of several factors, including students degree of hearing loss,
the amount of time spent in the particular communication environment of
their residential school, the amount of contact they had with their parents
and other hearing communication models, their access to hearing aids, and
their teachers degree of commitment to and proficiency with the particular
communication philosophies and modes used in the schools. In any case, the
outcome of a predominantly Bicultural/Dual Identity would seem, according
to the literature, to be a potentially beneficial one in the circumstances.
However, it is impossible to discern from this study whether adopting a
Bicultural/Dual Identity helped to bring about more positive outcomes for
students in experiencing better social, academic and personal outcomes and
more effective family interactions and communication development.
Nonetheless, the data in this study generally reflect the view of Zaitseva et al.
(1999) in suggesting that if deaf students have opportunities to use TC in
schools they will have Culturally Deaf and Bicultural identities that may lead
to higher self-esteem than for deaf people with only a Culturally Hearing
Identity.
Using an oral-auditory communication approach may lead deaf children to
feel less accepted by their parents, less acceptance of themselves as deaf
persons, and reduced comfort with their deaf peers and within their communication environment (Wright, 1983). These negative feelings may, in turn,
result in poorer school achievement as reflected in the study by Hyde et al.
(1992). They reported that Australian teachers who used a TC approach
observed better achievement scores from their deaf students, and when
sentence material was presented in signed English profoundly deaf students
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achieved significantly higher reception scores than achieved through auraloral modes of communication. In contrast, a Bicultural/Dual Identity may
result in a more positive identity, for it does not expressly reflect the
perspective of either disability or of able-bodiedness. Instead, deaf adolescents
may be encouraged to feel part of both worlds, and therefore be encouraged to
pursue a wider range of behaviours, vocational outcomes and social mobility.
In the study, a majority of deaf adolescent boys and girls in Eskisehir school
accepted only a Culturally Hearing Identity, while those in Ankara and Konya
schools for the deaf mainly accepted a Bicultural/Dual Identity. As suggested
above, one of the key factors of influence may be the communication system
used in the schools and its influence on the students communication
identities. In Eskisehir, the teachers of the deaf used speech lip-reading and
(typically unaided) listening to teach their students. In Ankara and Konya
they used a TC approach.
According to Stinson and Whitmire (2000), the academic and social
performances of adolescents who are deaf are affected by any communication
barriers created by their hearing impairment. The communication barriers
created by hearing loss can result in complex implications for interpersonal
dynamics, personal growth and academic achievement. Personal development
is related to motivation, peer relations and self identity (Livatyali, 2004;
Bahadir, 2002). In Turkey, deaf students in mainstream settings are more likely
to have mild to moderate hearing losses. However, students in the state
residential schools for the deaf typically have severe and profound hearing
losses. Achievement also depends on motivation as well as communication
background and past educational experience (Eripek, 2004). In the school
environment, the demands for more elaborate communication and linguistic
proficiencies are often difficult for deaf students and struggles to develop
communication and linguistic competence can seriously undermine their
motivation to learn, thus interfering with their school achievement. In most
of the Turkish schools for the deaf, teachers tend to be fluent signers and they
usually communicate with their students in sign. The separate special school
setting is considered by them to offer the better access to communication for
the deaf students in manual, visual and oral forms. However, according to
teacher reports, students in special residential schools in Turkey have less
proficiency in Turkish, relative to students in mainstream programmes. Thus,
comprehension of printed, spoken and possibly signed information in Turkish
would be relatively difficult and hence access to new information and subsequent knowledge development may be limited. As a result, their limited
communication skills may affect the development of identity patterns, as in
this study which shows that, in Eskisehir school for the deaf, children have a
Culturally Hearing Identity while the students in the other two schools reflect
Bicultural identities.
In Eskisehir school for the deaf, any kind of sign use is forbidden so the
children may be encouraged to accept a hearing identity. This may negatively
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affect their self-esteem and their motivation because they have difficulty in
understanding teachers classroom communication. These may affect the
extent to which the students have successful learning experiences in the
classroom because they lack adequate access to curricular information. While
direct comparisons of learning outcomes across the two schools are not
canvassed in this study, the use of a TC approach may be the best option, at
this stage, to maximize these students communication and learning and
identity construction.
However, there are many factors which might affect the development of
self-concept and identity among deaf adolescents (Sari, 1993). These include:
the age of onset of impairment, the age of detection of impairment, the degree
of impairment, type of hearing loss, effective use of hearing aid, variability of
hearing, mental ability, linguistic aptitude and personal characteristics. A
number of family-related factors may be significant as well, namely the
communication and learning conditions of home, deafness in the family, the
size of the family, relationships with brothers and sisters, guidance given to the
family, the health of parents, the ability of parents to follow guidance, modes
of communication used at home, the socio-economic status of family and the
status of parents education (Sari, 2000; Stinson and Whitmire, 1984). A
further range of factors might also be influential; for example, the type of
school into which the adolescent is placed, the quality and training of
teachers, relationships with other students, relationships with other people in
the community, types of social provision, facilities and opportunities to access
cultural and social events such as sports, theatre and captioned films. Such
provisions in schools are very limited for the deaf adolescents in Turkey.
Some students and teachers prefer the use of lipreading as the primary
mode of communication for deaf learners in Turkey. They consider this to be
useful for the development of deaf students learning and understanding of
new vocabulary and because deaf adolescents will have to interact with
hearing people after leaving school. However, many students and teachers of
the deaf feel that lipreading alone is insufficient for understanding speech in
Turkish because so many speech sounds are not visible or distinguishable at all
(Sari, 1993). For example, the Turkish words baba (father), mama (food)
and papa (priest), have identical lip patterns. As in other spoken languages,
there are also many words that are articulated at the rear of the vocal tract
and thus are not perceivable or distinguishable visually. According to the
reports of some Turkish teachers, deaf students potentially can distinguish
only a third of speech sounds through lipreading, unless it is supported with
the effective listening using hearing aids (Sari, 1993). In Turkish state
residential schools for the deaf, most of the students do not have hearing aids
although many students better-ear average hearing loss exceeds 80 dB.
Some experts, for example, Tufekcioglu (2002) and Eripek (2004), believe
that there are many advantages if hearing-impaired students are educated
orally from the early age, if the impairment is discovered early enough, and if
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hearing aids are used from the early age, and if they are well supported by
specialist staff. As in the history of this debate in other countries, these
teachers are against the use of signs in any form and feel that children might
adopt the easier form of communication, that is, to sign, and not attempt to
speak or lipread. Other teachers and students are in favour of the use of signs
and suggest that signs are easier to perceive visually and therefore, a sign
language (or even a signed spoken language) can be perceived more effectively and be more readily learned by deaf students (Hallahan and Kauffman,
1997; Wood et al., 1996; Reed, 2002; Sari et al., 2002). As Moores (1987),
and Kelly and OBrien (1992) suggested, teachers and parents should be made
aware of the advantages of different communication approaches.
The Department of Special Education in the Ministry of National
Education in Turkey has been flexible about the use of communication
methods in schools for the deaf so every teacher can use their preferred
communication approach to teach deaf children. However, this Department
has not published a sign language dictionary until recently to represent our
unique national sign language, whereas countries such as Britain and the
United States of America have had their own natural and systematic sign
languages represented in dictionaries for many years. According to Sari
(2003a), not having a sign language dictionary has led teachers to use
different signs for the same words or phrases in different schools, in forms of
signed Turkish. In addition, some parents are unhappy about not having a sign
language dictionary available to support their learning and use of Turkish sign.
Further, there are no courses available for teachers or parents to learn Turkish
sign from proficient language models. According to Webster and Ellwood
(1985), such courses can be organized in residential schools where the whole
body of teaching and ancillary staff are fluent in sign language.
At present, therefore, the variable decisions made by schools and even
individual teachers about their approaches to classroom and school communication, would seem to affect the development of the sense of identity by deaf
students. The results of this study have suggested that the use of various
combinations of communication modes such as signing, finger spelling, and
lipreading with hearing aids, may allow deaf adolescents in Turkey to accept
both identities resulting in the development of Culturally Hearing and
Culturally Deaf identities.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
This research has raised many issues that have important implications for
professionals, teachers, families and other people who work with deaf adolescents or who make decisions concerning the education of the deaf in Turkey.
It is possible to translate these implications into recommendations which
could be considered by Turkish educational policy-makers, educational
psychologists and educators.
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Identity Patterns of Turkish Deaf Adolescents

There should be further consideration of ways in which both oral/aural


and manual modes of communication can be used to teach deaf students
in order to attain higher levels of conceptual understanding, motivation
and self-esteem and to achieve reciprocal communication between
hearing and deaf communities, as stressed by Bat-Chava (2000)
There should be a greater range of programmes for educating teachers and
other professionals such as speech therapists, educational psychologists,
hearing aid technicians and interpreters about Turkish Sign Language
Educators must be flexible about using combinations of communication
methods but they should include: oral-auditory approaches, Turkish Sign
Language, finger spelling, and even signed Turkish (Sim.Com.) as
reflected by Hyde and Power (1992 and 1997), Hyde et al. (1992), and
Hyde et al. (1995)
Deaf adolescents needs should be supported in their development
personally, socially, emotionally and academically, whether they are
enrolled in special or inclusive settings, as suggested by Hyde and Power
(2004)
There should be organized courses for parents and others who want to
learn Turkish Sign Language and other communication systems so that
they can communicate with the deaf more effectively
The external agencies involved in deaf education should offer more
rigorous and determined supports for supplementary teaching materials
and hearing aids with the newest technology, as recommended by Eripek
(2004)
In current social, political, economic and educational contexts in Turkey,
TC may be the most effective approach, at this stage, to support the
development of a range of communication systems to meet the needs of
most deaf adolescents in the Turkish education system. This study has
presented data that suggest that the use of this approach results in a
balanced form of identity construction by deaf adolescents the
Bicultural/Dual Identity.

FOR THE FUTURE


There is clearly a need for more research in deaf education in Turkey. Such
research needs to be aligned with planned or proposed policy and service
changes. It needs to include the further documentation and teaching of
Turkish Sign Language, further documentation of the visual and acoustic
dimensions of spoken Turkish, the degree of association between written
Turkish and its phonology, documentation of the achievement outcomes of
Turkish schools for the deaf, and consideration of the impact of various
communication approaches, including models that reflect bicultural and
bilingual characteristics.

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Hakan Sari

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The author would like to express his special thanks to Professor Merv Hyde,
Professor Norman Erber, Professor Suleyman Eripek, Professor Omer Ure and
Professor Gonul Kircaali-Iftar for their support and constructive motivation
and help in enabling him to complete this research. I would also like to thank
the staff and pupils at the three schools for taking part in this study.
This work is supported by the Coordinatorship of Selcuk Universitys
Scientific Research Projects.
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Address correspondence to: Prof Hakan Sari, Head of Special Education


Department, Selcuk University, Egitim Fakultesi, Meram, Konya, Turkey 42090.
(E-mail: hakansari@hotmail.com)

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