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Policy Futures in Education, Volume 1, Number 4, 2003

Deafness, Disability and Inclusion: the gap between rhetoric and practice[1]
MARY BRENNAN Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT This article provides a critique of the interpretation and practice of educational inclusion, particularly in respect of deaf children. It is argued that the inclusion agenda, as presently realised, does not incorporate the fundamental paradigm shift required to bring about equity and social inclusion for deaf children. Superficially inclusive practices, such as the attendance of deaf children at mainstream schools, often simultaneously deny the linguistic rights of deaf children and thus fail to ensure either full access to the curriculum and assessment or access to a satisfying social experience. Despite this, there are indications within Scotland and the Scottish Parliament of a more genuinely inclusive approach to linguistic and cultural diversity. Recent developments include the recognition of British Sign Language (BSL) by the United Kingdom Government and the explicit inclusion of BSL as one of the languages of Scotland. The challenge is to embed linguistic recognition and rights within education at all levels: this requires placing Deaf people at the heart of developments.

Introduction Over the last decade, there has been a mass of documentation providing guidelines and policies aimed at bringing about the inclusion of deaf and disabled people. Some of these policies are now enshrined in legislation. However, despite some changes in patterns of discourse and the use of vocabulary and terminology borrowed from the equality and rights agenda, there remains a large gap between rhetoric and practice. Although policy statements are littered with allusions to rights, much of the underlying thinking remains rooted in a medical model of disability and deafness, and it is this thinking that, regrettably, all too often underlies practice. This is not to say that there has been no progress or that there are not genuine attempts to bring


about change. However, at least in the area with which I am most familiar, deafness, the radical paradigm shift required has not (yet) been taken. Models of Disability and Deafness Changes in attitudes to deafness and disability have come primarily from Deaf and disabled people themselves. In particular, they have questioned the focus on impairment:
The achievement of the disability movement has been to break the link between our bodies and our social situation and to focus on the real cause of disability, ie discrimination and prejudice. (Shakespeare, 1992, p. 40)

Within the social model of disability, impairment was not totally denied, but the barriers and discriminatory practices of institutions and societies as a whole were viewed as inherently disabling. More recently, there has been some questioning and re-interpretation of the social model. In particular, some critics argue that denying the role of impairment is to deny the experience of individuals themselves:
there is a tendency within the social models of disability to deny the experience of our bodies, insisting that our physical differences and restrictions are entirely socially created. While environmental barriers and social attitudes are a crucial part of our experience of disability and do indeed disable us to suggest that this is all there is to it is to deny the personal experience of physical and intellectual restrictions of illness, of the fear of dying. (Morris, 1991, p. 10)

Yet it is interesting to note that even one of the strongest proponents of the social model nevertheless incorporates a personal biography into one of his most influential accounts (Oliver, 1996). Some of the most effective and influential literature in relation to developing a social model of Deafness builds directly upon the Deaf experience, but this is not viewed in the terms usually applied by hearing commentators. Deaf people typically do not see themselves as isolated victims living in a world of silence (an image still exploited by some deaf organisations in their fundraising). One of the seminal works in relation to both building upon the Deaf experience and providing a coherent sociocultural model of Deafness is the 1988 publication by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, Deaf in America: voices from a culture. It is worth quoting the authors at some length to gain a sense of a perspective which is almost alien to hearing people:
The traditional way of writing about Deaf people is to focus on the fact of their condition that they do not hear and to interpret all other aspects of their lives as consequences of this fact. ... In our work, we adopt an approach that begins not with hearing loss but with the cultural world. Using theories from the study of human culture, we focus not on a direct relationship between peoples physical features and their behaviour but on


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an examination of the place of these features and behaviour in their larger cultural life. Deaf people have accumulated a set of knowledge about themselves in the face of the larger societys understanding or misunderstanding of them. They have found ways to define and express themselves through their rituals, tales, performances and everyday social encounters. The richness of their sign language affords them the possibilities of insight, invention and irony. In exploring this culture, we have collected an array of materials that suggest a new way to order information about what it means to be Deaf. Using these materials, we have tried to present the culture from the inside to discover how deaf people describe themselves, what sorts of symbols they surround themselves with, and how they think about their lives. (Padden & Humphries, 1988, p. 11)

Whilst working on a Dictionary of Deaf Community and Culture at the University of Durham, colleagues and I collected almost 20 different signs which could be glossed as deaf. However, their usage and meaning differed considerably from the typical use of the word deaf in English. Some of the signs essentially labelled someone as belonging to the Deaf community: thus a sign often translated as profoundly deaf actually meant that the person was fully culturally Deaf, but the sign did not imply anything at all about level of hearing loss. Hearing loss as such had only a minimal role to play in its use. Padden and Humphries also found that:
Deaf people work around different assumptions about deafness and hearing from those of hearing people. The condition of not hearing or of becoming hard of hearing cannot be described apart from its placement in the context of categories of cultural meaning. Names applied to one another are labels that define relationships. The relationships Deaf people have defined include their struggles with those who are more powerful than they, such as hearing others. (1988, pp. 54-55)

The authors argue that by probing deaf experience and how children arrive at their world-view, it is possible to view Deafness as having a different centre. Since the Padden and Humphries publication, there have been a number of accounts of what has variously been called the Deaf-World (Lane et al, 1996), and Deafhood (Ladd, 1991). These concepts are not totally analogous, but what they all have in common is an attempt to describe and analyse the reality of deafness from the inside. Most of these accounts are by Deaf people themselves and they build upon analyses of community, culture and ethnicity. Thus, the social models of deafness and disability are evolving to take more account of individual and community experience, while also incorporating an emancipatory approach (Oliver, 1996; Barnes et al, 1999), which seeks to advance social justice for disabled people (Barnes et al, 1999). Such notions have now been central within the fields of disability studies, Deaf studies and sign language studies for well over 20 years, yet their implications for practice have not been fully taken on board, as we shall see below.


Deaf People and the Linguistic Access Agenda As we can see from the Padden and Humphries account above, sign language is an intrinsic part of Deaf community and Deaf identity. Deaf people view themselves as members of a linguistic minority. They see many of the barriers to inclusion within Scottish society as deriving from a lack of linguistic access. For members of the Deaf community who use British Sign Language (BSL), this lack manifests itself in the complete absence of BSL usage in key contexts, most particularly education; a shortage of BSL/English interpreters; and the limited use of BSL[2] in those areas of life which allow the person to participate as full citizens in society, for example politics, the media and information services. Most BSL-using Deaf people also use and wish to use English, particularly written English. However, they mainly use visual forms of English, which means that adequate access often requires the use of subtitling or speech to text provision. In 2002, a working party established by the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters produced a report entitled Creating Linguistic Access for Deaf and Deafblind People: a strategy for Scotland (Brennan et al, 2002). The report was partially funded by the Social Works Services Inspectorate within the Scottish Executive. It focused on what the working party saw as the key barrier to inclusion for Deaf people in Scotland, namely lack of linguistic access. The report also recognised that for some deaf people, English rather than BSL would be their first or preferred language. Yet, such people were also often denied access through the use of visual English in a range of contexts. The report provides examples of such a lack of access across the whole range of public services, including health, education, social services, employment, the justice system and the media. Lack of adequate linguistic access can impinge on Deaf peoples rights and their opportunity to participate fully in Scottish society. This is also true in relation to education. Much of the current practice of the education of deaf children is built around an expectation of linguistic delay. Such delay is not inevitable. In 1975, I published an article with the title Can Deaf Children Acquire Language? (Brennan, 1975). As a newcomer to the area, I was shocked by the language delay I witnessed in so many deaf children. I was also initially bemused by the rejection of sign language as a viable first language, particularly by educationalists. My answer to the question posed in the title was that deaf children can acquire language, but only if they are given the opportunity to do so. That opportunity meant being exposed to BSL from an early age. Twentyeight years on, I have to admit that I and my colleagues in the fields of sign language studies and Deaf studies have failed to bring about the change that for some time seemed imminent. The period since the 1970s has seen a major increase in the amount of research and knowledge about the sign languages of the world. In the 1970s, Scotland was at the forefront of these developments, with the Scottish Office and later the Economic and Social Research Council funding research into the language of Deaf people, British Sign Language. In 1984, a conference organised by the Edinburgh BSL project at the then Moray

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House College of Education brought together a range of Deaf and hearing people from Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Scotland, England and several other countries to explore the nature of sign language and the feasibility of bilingual (BSL and English) education. Such bilingual practice was already taking place, for example in Denmark and Sweden. At the time of my 1975 article, I argued that there was already sufficient evidence to introduce BSL. Now the evidence is overwhelming, yet still the major changes required within education have not taken place. The inclusion agenda, ironically, may have served to make matters worse. While the broader social inclusion agenda gives recognition to cultural and linguistic diversity, educational inclusion too often means linguistic exclusion in relation to deaf children (Brennan, 1999a, b). The majority of deaf children (over 90%) are born to hearing parents. Those born to Deaf parents typically acquire a sign language at the same rate and age as hearing children acquire a spoken language. However, relatively few deaf children of hearing parents are given the opportunity to access BSL, even though they would be able to acquire this language easily. This results in a situation whereby deaf children exposed only to English are typically delayed in their acquisition of the language. Even those children who are given cochlear implants very early are recognised, even by the proponents of implantation, to be delayed in their development of spoken English:
Long-term experience of children with implants informs us that, following implantation, speech intelligibility continues to develop over many years, where there are no problems. It is not until the three year interval, on average, that speech becomes intelligible, provided the listener concentrates and lipreads. Further improvement in speech intelligibility is generally observed at the four year interval and has not reached plateau even in the five year interval. (Allen et al, 1998, p. 38)

Cochlear implantation, mainstreaming and an absence of sign language typically go hand in hand. In an overview of the perceptions of parents and their deaf children 3 years after implantation, Archbold et al (2002) note that implantation was seen to have had an effect on educational decisions and this was generally in the direction of mainstream provision and oral education (p. 37). What we seem to have then is an inclusive policy which excludes. This is not just a matter of excluding a particular language and culture, although that would be bad enough. Rather it is a question of excluding the one type of language, a sign language, which is easily acquired by all deaf children if they are exposed to such a language. The centrality of sign language to the lives of Deaf people and its role in cementing community membership is perhaps the key difference between Deaf and disabled experiences and agendas.



Parallel or Conflicting Agendas: deafness and disability While developments in thinking and theorising in relation to Deaf and disabled people have run in parallel, there is an intrinsic problem. Within what Deaf people call (i.e. sign) the Deaf-World, there has been a rejection of the label disabled. Thus Deaf people who see themselves as belonging to the Deaf community see themselves as belonging to a linguistic minority, with its own culture and heritage. While there are individual Deaf communities, such as the Scottish Deaf community, with their own particular heritage, Deaf communities worldwide see themselves as sharing some common heritage and cultural patterns. A key element in this shared heritage is a history of oppression and discrimination and utterly central to this is the rejection by those in power of the use of sign language. The Deaf rights movements which have developed in many countries, and which also operate internationally, ally themselves primarily with other linguistic minorities rather than with the disability movement. While such a linkage is entirely appropriate, Deaf peoples unwillingness to ally themselves with the disability movement has inevitably been controversial and often viewed with dismay by disabled activists (see, for example, Oliver, 1996; Barnes & Mercer, 2003). Moreover, the stance is not without its contradictions. Deaf people and Deaf organisations do participate in what we might call the disability agenda. However, Deaf people and Deaf organisations have fully taken on board the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act legislation), including the more recent SENDA (Special Educational Needs and Disability Act) legislation. This means accepting the notion that the deaf child is a disabled child or the Deaf adult a disabled adult. For some (cf. Harlan Lanes [1999] analysis in the appropriately named The Mask of Benevolence), buying into such legislation is tantamount to selling ones soul to the devil. It undermines the case for linguistic and cultural status and allows those in power to continue to work within an outdated and inherently flawed paradigm:
subscribing to the disability construction of culturally Deaf people, undermines the Deaf agenda, which aims for acceptance of ASL [American Sign Language] and Deaf culture. It is because disability advocates think of deaf children as disabled that they have sought, at times successfully, to close special schools and absurdly plunge deaf children into hearing classrooms in a totally exclusionary programme called inclusion. (Lane, 1999, pp. xiii)

The issue of special schools reveals a major division between disability and Deaf activists. A recent work on Deaf culture and oppression has a chapter entitled The Denial of Deafness in the Late Twentieth Century: the surgical violence of medicine and the symbolic violence of mainstreaming (Branson & Miller, 2002). This chapter focuses on what are seen as the two major oppressive realities faced by deaf children: the widespread and increasing use of cochlear implantation and the implementation of supposedly inclusive policies through mainstreaming. Both of these developments work against the

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use of sign language. We can contrast this and Lanes account above with a comment from the disability activist and researcher, Mike Oliver:
The history of the twentieth century for disabled people has been one of exclusion. The twenty-first century will see the struggle of disabled people for inclusion go from strength to strength. In such a struggle, special segregated education has no role to play. (Oliver, 1996, p. 94; emphasis added)

The most obvious indication of the centrality of the medical view of deafness within current policy and practice is the increase in the number of children who are given a cochlear implant. The age of implantation has decreased steadily (under 2 years old is seen as ideal by cochlear implant practitioners) and the criteria for implantation have been extended. While most disability activists see inclusion policies which promote the participation of disabled children in mainstream schools as a positive development, the majority of Deaf activists question this policy, at least as it is currently realised. What then is the inclusion agenda and how does it affect deaf children? The Inclusion Agenda Inclusion is currently at the heart of educational policy. The term is almost a requirement in educational policy documents at school, local authority and government level. In some accounts, terms such as inclusion, inclusive schooling and educational inclusion are used as if there are clear and shared interpretations of the terms. At other times, there is a recognition of the ambiguities and variations in perspective. The report by Her Majestys Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) (2002) Count Us In opens with a discussion of some of these different views. This is followed by the presentation of a broad interpretation in which it is suggested that an inclusive approach to education involves:
creating an ethos of achievement for all children within a climate of high expectation; valuing a broad range of talents, abilities and achievements; promoting success and self-esteem by taking actions to remove barriers to learning; countering conscious and unconscious discrimination that may prevent individuals, or children from any particular groups, from thriving in the school; actively promoting understanding and a positive appreciation of the diversity of individuals and groups within society. (HMIE, 2002, p. 4)

It would be difficult to argue against any of the above. However, the assumption underlying most accounts is that such objectives can only be achieved through the physical location of all children within mainstream schools. This is made explicit in the Standards in Scotlands Schools Act (2000a), which legally establishes a presumption of mainstreaming for all children,


allowing placement in special schooling only where circumstances arise ... exceptionally (p. 7). This came into effect in August 2003. At the same time, the Act states that it is the duty of each education authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential (p. 1). It is argued here that for many deaf people, this latter cannot be achieved through mainstreaming, at least as this is presently realised and construed. In 2001, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (Great Britain, 2001) amended the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). This made it unlawful to discriminate against deaf children by: 1. 2. treating them less favourably than other children because of their deafness; failing to make reasonable adjustments so that children are not put at a substantial disadvantage because of their deafness compared to other children.

Deaf children are deemed by their hearing impairment to be included under the terms of this legislation. Those who see the inclusion of Deaf people as primarily a linguistic matter are faced with a dilemma. The SENDA legislation has the potential to provide protection to deaf children, even in terms of linguistic access. Yet to exploit this legislation is to accept the underlying approach to deafness. Most individuals and deaf organisations are indeed taking a pragmatic approach; that is, invoking the SENDA legislation whilst simultaneously calling for linguistic rights. A complementary piece of legislation places a duty on responsible bodies, including local authorities and governing bodies of grant-aided schools, to prepare and implement accessibility strategies to improve access to education for disabled children (Scottish Executive, 2002). The strategies must include access to the curriculum, access to the physical environment, and improving communication with children who have disabilities. The duty to prepare and implement the strategies came into force in October 2002. Strategies had to be prepared and submitted by April 2003. An initial examination of the available accessibility strategies shows that there is considerable variation in the extent to which deaf childrens requirements are dealt with explicitly. Most make reference to inclusive policies within their statements of principle or background statements and in some cases there is explicit indication that inclusion can be interpreted as mainstreaming or integration:
Greater inclusion of disabled children into mainstream education offers a powerful means of influencing non-disabled peoples understanding of and attitudes to disability ... East Renfrewshire Council has been committed to a policy of inclusion in mainstream schools since 1997. In part this was a reaction to the lack of special needs provision within the area but principally it reflected a decision by Elected Members that young people


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should be educated with their peers in their own local community if that is the parents wish. (East Renfrewshire Council, 2003, p. 2) SBC has worked for many years with a commitment to integration/inclusion as a key part of its education strategy. (Scottish Borders Council, 2003, p. 5)

In many of the accessibility strategies there are no references to deaf people, the terms hearing-impaired or sensory-impaired being used instead. Most have no reference at all to sign language, BSL or linguistic access, although some do recognise communication needs and a few explicitly recognise the need for sign language training. While the legislation is clearly geared to supporting inclusive and non-discriminatory practice, the current strategies do not incorporate a view of deaf children as a linguistic group. Inclusive Practice within Education Within education, there is a tendency to assume that inclusion of all children within mainstream schools is a moral given, something that we cannot argue against. It is worth noting Mike Olivers comments on integration some years ago:
It is my contention, therefore, that the educational literature on integration sees the whole issue as non-problematic; integration has become received educational wisdom and can be paraphrased as follows: we know what integration is, we know that people want it and that we are all committed to it, so lets go ahead and do it. This old view of integration has almost become the new educational orthodoxy and can preclude, or at least, make difficult the sociological function of critique. The concept of integration has become like the idea of motherhood who can possibly be against it? Integration has become reified; it has become an end in itself, not a means to an end. (Oliver, 1996, p. 85)

Note that this was written in 1996. It seems that the term inclusion has now, in its turn, become reified. It is difficult to challenge the accepted and prevailing wisdom. The notion that full inclusion and equity for deaf and disabled young people might best be achieved by separate or different types of provision is rarely fully argued or explicated. There have been several recent attempts in Scotland to evaluate and even audit the inclusion of so-called SEN children within mainstream schools. The SEN terminology has been replaced more recently by the notion of Additional Support for Learning, for example with the publication of the Additional Support for Learning Bill in October 2003. In May 2003, Audit Scotland, in partnership with HMIE, published a report entitled Moving to Mainstream: the inclusion of children with special educational needs in mainstream. This aimed to review the provision for children with special educational needs in the context of the presumption of mainstreaming. The first detailed aim was to consider:


How well can the needs of children and young people with SEN be met in mainstream schools? Interestingly, the authors do not ask how well the needs of children are currently being met. This publication illustrates some of the current problems in evaluating the issue of mainstreaming and deaf children. Firstly, the authors begin with a most inadequate account of deafness: in a listing providing key information on the common conditions leading to special educational needs, they give the following description:
Hearing impairment The loss of the ability to hear normally either temporarily or permanently to varying degrees. Support commonly required The use of noise reduction measures such as carpeting or double glazing may be sufficient to permit the inclusion of children with slight to moderate hearing impairment in mainstream classes; however, the use of hearing loops or radio aids, together with specific training for school staff, may also be required.

Table I. Audit Scotland/HMIE representations of deaf childrens needs. (Source: Audit Scotland & HMIE, 2003, p. 10.)

As in most other special educational discourse, the term hearing impairment is used. As suggested earlier, this places the deaf pupil within a particular framework or paradigm which, almost by definition, excludes the notion of Deaf identity, at least as understood by Padden & Humphries (1988). Moreover, the statement of the support required completely fails to focus on the key issue, linguistic access, and instead highlights only audiological and acoustic requirements. This is not to say that these are unimportant; they will be highly relevant to those deaf students whose language preference is English. However, even for these students, other factors, such as accessing English visually, will also be of importance. It is important not to see these issues in isolation, but in the context of linguistic access. Within educational policy making, the policy makers are exploiting new inclusion-based terminology whilst effectively operating within a traditional model. The authors of the Audit Scotland document stress the importance of adequate information on the nature of pupils impairments to inform policy and planning decisions locally and nationally and make decisions on resource distribution. Current collection of information at a national level provides very limited information relating to deaf children. However, the Scottish Executive Education Department has supported and funded the Achievements of Deaf Pupils in Scotland (ADPS) project, which was established in 2000 to collect highly detailed information on deaf children and young people. The ADPS project has established a database of all deaf children in Scotland who are either in a school or unit for deaf children or who are visited twice a year or more by specialist support staff (Group A children). General information relating to hearing loss and placement is collected for all other deaf children (Group B). The central database stores a detailed record for each Group A deaf child with a

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range of information relating, for example, to language use, hearing loss, placement, medical conditions, 5-14 curriculum levels, attainments within the National Framework of Qualifications and other qualifications. Data are being collected on a yearly basis. Detailed data are currently available for 2000-01 and for 2001-02. The extremely high return rate, 99.4%, of detailed questionnaires relating to each pupil means that ADPS has the most detailed data ever amassed relating to a national population, except for the Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth conducted by the Galluadet Research Institute, Washington DC. This gathers information across the whole of the USA, but does not gather such a wide range of data. The ADPS project is thus able to produce accurate figures, for example, relating to prevalence and placement. Data from the first year are now in the public domain. Unfortunately, the Audit Scotland report itself fails to provide the type of information required to make adequate judgements on the effectiveness of inclusion. The first problem lies in the figures provided of numbers of children. For example, it indicates that there are around 600 deaf children in Scotland. This figure, however, refers only to those who have undergone a statutory assessment, leading to the opening of a Record of Needs. According to the ADPS figures, there are over 800 children who either do not have a Record of Needs or for whom no information is available. Yet, these children are seen as requiring some type of support from the visiting service. Additionally, there are 670 deaf children, the Group B children, who are seen by specialist staff, but less frequently. This underreporting of the numbers of deaf children raises issues about the other calculations provided in the Audit Scotland report. Thus, the statistics and predictions of the numbers of hearing-impaired children in mainstream provision appear to be out of line with the ADPS figures. Exhibit 10 (Audit Scotland & HMIE, 2003, p. 25) within the Audit Scotland report shows approximately 68% of hearing-impaired children as being educated in mainstream, with senior managers predictions suggesting that by 2007 between 85% and 100% will be educated within mainstream schools. In contrast, the ADPS figures show that in 2000-01 approximately 86% of children were being educated in mainstream provision. This difference means that the costs associated with increasing mainstream provision quoted in the report are also likely to be inaccurate. Educational Attainment In both England and Scotland, the general tendency is to assume that increased inclusion of children in mainstream is leading to higher levels of attainment. The Department for Education and Skills (1998) asserts, for example, that an increasing number of schools are demonstrating that an inclusive approach can reinforce a commitment to higher standards of achievement for all children. In chapter 6 of the Audit Scotland document, the authors explore how well the needs of children with SEN can be met in mainstream schools. They examine


this by looking at schools recognised by seven councils as having good practice in including children with SEN. One section asks How well are children achieving? The answer is:
Overall, childrens attainment of educational and personal goals was good. Many children with sensory impairments and physical disabilities were attaining standards commensurate with their peers and some were exceeding those. (1998, p. 78)

Furthermore, it is claimed that the existing curriculum is appropriate to the needs of children with educational needs: Children, generally, had access to the mainstream curriculum which was based on national guidance and individualised to meet their specific educational needs (1998, p. 80). While the report recognises that there are areas of weakness and variation, it does not fully address the diversity of groups and the range of characteristics across groups. It provides minimal information and few examples relating to deaf children. Findings from the ADPS project provide clear evidence of deaf children lagging behind their hearing peers in most key areas. While the problems with these types of assessments are well known and indeed have led to proposals to phase them out, the consistency of these results is sufficient to suggest that they do provide evidence that deaf children are not achieving their full potential. The proportion of deaf children achieving a Standard Grade credit-level pass is low (17.9%) compared to the population as a whole (44.7%), with lower percentages of deaf children than hearing achieving at the lower levels of assessment. The Audit Scotland report recommends that:
Councils and schools should monitor the progress and attainment of children with SEN to ensure that they are achieving standards across the curriculum commensurate with their potential. (2003, p. 80)

It is also appropriate to do this at a national level. Once data are available for 3 years, the ADPS team will be able to provide more robust figures relating to attainment. However, the figures cited here are sufficient to demonstrate that, as yet, the policy of including deaf children in mainstream schools is failing to deliver in relation to one of the key areas of the inclusion agenda: improvement of levels of achievement. In the case of deaf children, such information is available through the work of ADPS, funded through the Scottish Executive. However, we do not have such details in relation to other groups of children. Surely such information is essential if we are to evaluate mainstreaming approaches fully. Perspectives of the Primary Stakeholders It is suggested here that inclusion, as policy makers intend it, is often at odds with the reality perceived by deaf children themselves. Two recent projects in Scotland, funded by the Scottish Executive Education Department, have sought to elicit the views of deaf children. The National Deaf Childrens

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Society (NDCS) project interviewed a wide range of children in mainstream schools and the ADPS project interviewed deaf children in mainstream and special schools and ex-children in further education (FE) colleges. As can be seen from the following extracts from these interviews, one of the key problems faced by deaf children is that decision making is often removed from them:
I wont be having History next year because [name of teacher] said theres lots of writing and lots of homework, using lots of paper, and lots of difficult words. Ill miss it. I would like to take History. Im good at History. Ive got lots of certificates in History. (S2 student, Leiper, 2003) I feel in a perfect world I want to make the choices let me go and do it, whichever class I want to do, without people making the decision for me that its too hard for me. It should have been my decision, but the teacher decided for me, and I think thats wrong. (FE student, Leiper, 2003)

The FE students, who were in a position to look back at their relatively recent schooldays, are strongest in their comments about disempowerment. Differentiation in practice may mean simplifying down and excluding the pupil from the some of the most creative learning opportunities:
I was in a hearing school with very few deaf people. So when I was with a hearing class, maybe there was an exam or something they would give me something easier to do because they wanted me to look like I was being the same as everyone else, but I wasnt. (FE student, Leiper, 2003)

Group work is seen as being difficult for deaf children, especially where children rely solely on audiological support, so in some cases they are simply given other work to do. Because many deaf children are said to lack vocabulary, they may be given sessions where such vocabulary is explicated while their peers are actually using the vocabulary in practical tasks or discussion. On the whole, the Deaf education literature almost takes it for granted that deaf children will require this language support work. Yet these are mainly children who would have been able to acquire a first language, a sign language, easily and this could have been used to access key areas of the curriculum and as a basis for developing English as an additional language. Some of the FE students did also recognise that sometimes decisions were made for them, rather than by them, because of a lack of resources. For example, sometimes children were required to take the same subject at secondary level because there were insufficient teachers to support them, possibly individually, in different subjects. The NDCS project also reveals ambivalence about and sometimes rejection of a Deaf identity:
I dont like being deaf because it is a horrible feeling and its just like you have some dirt on you and you really want to get the germ off you and you just really want to be clean and the same as everybody. Im very ashamed to admit that I am deaf sometimes and get embarrassed, though my mum and dad are very supportive to get me through the problem if 680


Im very lonely and depressed sometimes. But if I accept that I am deaf, sometimes I get a very hurtful and lonely feeling inside that I am the only deaf person. (Heather, 13, NDCS, 2001)

There were also, of course, positive accounts. One of these comes from a Deaf university student interviewed by a deaf pupil at Donaldsons College for a production called Deaf Lives (Brennan et al, 2003). This student, a member of a BSL-using Deaf family, was educated throughout his school life at mainstream schools, but always with either a bilingual teacher or a communicator/interpreter in the classroom. While he was the only deaf pupil in his class, and for some of the time in his school, he felt comfortable with his situation and both participated in school life and achieved high-level results (celebrated by the Scottish Daily Record with the immortal headline Deaf and Dumb School Dux!). This student is fully bilingual in BSL and written English. His experience raises issues about whether it is possible to transform the mainstream in such a way that deaf children could have full linguistic access and still develop and maintain a Deaf identity. It is worth noting that this student was one of 5-10% of deaf children born to Deaf parents, so he already had a strong Deaf identity even before he started school. Ladd (1991) provides a personal view of the reality of mainstreaming from a previous generation:
My experience of mainstreaming in England ... leads me to believe that it is the most dangerous move yet against the early development of a deaf persons character, self-confidence and basic sense of identity. Forceful clumsy attempts to mainstream not only deny the facts about being deaf but destroy much that deaf people and their friends have worked so hard to create and may in the last resort be seen as genocidal. (Ladd, 1991, p. 88)

Ladds reference to genocide may seem extreme to the outsider, but it is echoed in the comments of Lane et al (1996) and Branson & Miller (2002), quoted previously. Ladd is writing about his experiences in the 1960s; we might expect that the mainstreaming of today is rather different from that of 40 years ago. However, as we have seen above, policy makers have not taken on board the linguistic agenda with respect to Deaf people and deaf children. A Silver Lining? The account so far has been somewhat gloomy. It has been suggested that there is a considerable gap between rhetoric and practice. What is more, the current evidence of the effectiveness of inclusion in relation primarily to one particular group of children does not support claims for the effectiveness of educational inclusion as the basis of societal inclusion. While there is plenty of talk of blue skies thinking, the outlook for many deaf children and adults remains somewhat cloudy. And yet, Scotland is in many ways at a turningpoint. Perhaps, after all, those clouds do have a silver lining? So what are the indications that a radical shift in thinking and practice may be possible?


Mary Brennan

Several recent actions and events demonstrate that there is a change of attitude occurring in Scotland towards the linguistic rights of Deaf people. In February 2003, two important events took place. First, the United Kingdom Government recognised British Sign Language as a language in its own right and promised funding to support actions relating to BSL. In the same month, the Scottish Parliament published a report on the Inquiry into the Role of Educational and Cultural Policy in Supporting and Developing Gaelic, Scots and Minority Languages in Scotland (Scottish Parliament, 2003). While the initial remit of the committee did not include BSL, the report recognises BSL as one of the languages of Scotland and makes specific reference to it in its recommendations. These include recommendations that actions are taken to:
(118) promote bilingualism and multilingualism instead of monolingualism, recognising the intellectual and economic benefits of such an approach to bringing about a more diverse and inclusive society; (119) increase funding for initiatives which will maintain and promote Scots, Gaelic, Community Languages and BSL, thereby helping to validate the status of the various languages of Scotland; (120) provide more in-service training for teachers on the languages of Scotland and ensure that the subject is part of initial teacher education and continuous professional development; (121) provide access to more material in the various languages of Scotland to complement improved teacher training. (pp. 18-19)

It is clear from this account that the committee accepted that bilingualism and multilingualism are positive assets and an aid to cognitive development. If such a view were to inform the education of deaf children, then BSL would not be seen as a last resort, when all else fails, but the cornerstone of a minimally bilingual, and possibly multilingual, education. In March 2003, a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Strasbourg agreed to recommend that the sign languages of Europe be accorded minority language status. This recommendation has yet to be fully endorsed and implemented but once this happens, EU countries will be committed to more specific types of support for these languages. The last question of the first Scottish Parliament was asked by Winnie Ewing, Member of the Scottish Parliament and a long-time advocate of the recognition of BSL and support for BSL use. She questioned the First Minister on the impact of BSL recognition and extracted a commitment to double the number of sign language interpreters in Scotland. While such a commitment falls far short of the numbers required, it nevertheless demonstrates a new awareness on the part of the Scottish Government of the rights of BSL users. In June 2003, the Partnership for a Better Scotland: partnership agreement (Scottish Executive, 2003) included a commitment to introduce a national language



strategy for Scotland which would guide the development and support of Scotlands languages, including BSL and community languages. In March 2003, the Equality Unit of the Scottish Executive funded a conference held within Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh focused on Linguistic Access for Deaf and Deaf-blind People: a strategy for Scotland. This was a follow-up to the report of the same title mentioned earlier in this account (Brennan et al, 2002). The keynote speaker at this conference was a Deaf presenter, Markku Jokinnen of the University of Jyvskyl, Finland. Markku is Director of the Finnish Sign Language Teacher Training programme at the University of Jyvskyl. This is a 5-year programme, comparable to B.Ed. programmes here but aimed at Finnish Sign Language users and incorporating Finnish Sign Language and Deaf studies into the programme. Markku presented a perspective on Deaf education in which sign language played a key role. However, the approach as currently being implemented in Finland also has high expectations of children in at least one other language. Indeed, in Finland, the expectation was that Deaf children would become competent in English as well as Finnish and possibly Swedish. Markku also described the programmes in relation to Finnish Sign Language/Finnish interpreters. For a country with approximately the same population as Scotland, Finland has about 12 times the numbers of interpreters, with over 100 educational interpreters. Following on from this conference, a meeting facilitated by the Equality Unit was held involving members of the working party which had produced the original report, Markku Jokinnen and eight representatives from different sections of the Scottish Executive. There was a full and frank exchange of views and a genuine sense that new thinking and new action might be possible. In 2002, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) made it possible for candidates in formal assessments to provide their responses in sign language if preferred. They had previously allowed questions to be presented in BSL. This is a major step by SQA and Scotland appears to be leading the way in this regard. All of the above are indications of potential, and in some cases actual, changes supporting Deaf peoples language rights. However, the difficulty lies firstly in ensuring that the types of development described in this last section are also considered within the context of education. Unfortunately, too often policy makers and managers in education appear less informed about language issues or do not see them as relevant. Secondly, even where excellent policy decisions are made, as in the SQA move, appropriate resources do not necessarily follow. Finally, bringing about the type of equity and inclusion described by Markku Jokinnen would mean rethinking much of current policy and practice in relation to inclusive education. It would mean finding a way in which deaf children could be educated with deaf peers, whilst having interactions with hearing peers. It would mean giving deaf people themselves a central role in delivering education. For most in the Deaf-World, it is this type of radical shift which is required. The challenge for practitioners, managers and

Mary Brennan

policy makers is to place the Deaf Rights agenda at the heart of change, rather than at the periphery: we too need to find a different centre. Correspondence Mary Brennan, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Charteris Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, United Kingdom (maryb@education.ed.ac.uk). Notes
[1] This account will make use of the convention of using a capital D in Deaf when referring to members of a sign language-using cultural group the Deaf community; the lower case d as in deaf will be used to refer to all those with a hearing loss. A lower case d is used throughout to refer to children with a hearing loss, since it is not clear when and whether children perceive themselves as members of the Deaf community. [2] It should be noted that BSL is a language with its own grammar and lexicon; it is not a representation of English. Unfortunately, some of those making decisions about deaf children actually confuse BSL with fingerspelling. Although the latter is used by Deaf people, its role is actually more complex than many hearing people recognise.

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