The study of a long term sign language intervention programme for hearing caregivers of deaf children : the challenges and successes of community-based rehabilitation and evaluation

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The present study aimed to develop, implement and evaluate a long-term sign language intervention programme for the hearing caregivers of deaf children living within a socio-economically disadvantaged community. The programme was implemented by a deaf signing adult from the same community as the caregivers, and was undertaken within the naturalised contexts at a community-based level. It involved the instruction of more complex aspects of sign language, using storybooks, storytelling and natural conversation. information and knowledge regarding Deaf Culture and the Deaf community was also imparted to the caregivers. The evaluation of the programme involved the examination of the caregivers’ signed-communication development, using a Communication Signing Profile during multiple signed communication tasks. Furthermore, focus group interviews were undertaken to evaluate the caregivers’ perceptions and attitudes toward the programme, deafness and sign language, as well as to document the challenges and barriers involved in implementing intervention programmes. Findings that emerged indicate that although the expected improvement in the caregiver‘s signed communication was not observed, the programme was considered beneficial to the caregivers in providing easily accessible community-based rehabilitation, exposure to more complex aspects of sign language, contact with a deaf signing adult as well as providing a social support network amongst the caregivers. The programme sought to overcome and account for the challenges involved in implementing intervention and undertaking research within the community, by making the programme culturally and linguistically appropriate. However, poverty emerged as being highly influential in programme implementation and evaluation. Hence, there is a need for a greater insight into the larger complexities of the socio-economic status of a disadvantaged community, in implementing community-based rehabilitation. These findings are discussed in the light of previous research, as well as future research and clinical implications for the development of long-term intervention’ sign language programmes.

Bibliography: leaves 166-181.