The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Educational opportunities dependent on hearing status? Experiences of hearing-impaired students

Nathalie Zechner, Universität Klagenfurt (Austria)


The study presented here deals with the educational opportunities of hearing-impaired (hard of hearing and d/Deaf) people in Austria. In the Austrian education system, hearing-impaired students still play a secondary role despite official legal equality through the Austrian Federal Act on the Equalization of Persons with Disabilities and the recognition of Austrian Sign Language (OEGS) as an independent language in the Austrian constitution. For example, teaching methods continue to be basically oriented towards spoken language. For hearing-impaired students to have the same educational opportunities as hearing students, such as the chance to graduate from university, they are usually forced to attend a "hearing" school and adapt to oral instruction there. This and the lack of sign language training opportunities for teachers are just two of the reasons why hearing-impaired people's access to education is still more difficult today when compared to hearing students. A self-determined life and freedom of choice of the hearing-impaired people thus move into the background. For analyzing the topics mentioned so far, the following questions will be examined: What are the experiences of hearing-impaired students in the Austrian education system? What are their suggestions to improve the current situation in the future? The answers to these questions will serve to elicit which aspects need to be considered in an educational concept to make teaching barrier-free, based on the viewpoints of hearing-impaired students. For the investigation, interviews with hearing-impaired students in secondary education (in Austria) as well as participatory observation in different lessons will be conducted. The results will show where – in the opinion of the stakeholders - the current education system has deficits and/or room for improvements. The aim is to get one step closer to equal opportunities.


hard of hearing, deaf, sign language, education, equal opportunity, inclusion

Reference: Krausneker, Verena (2007): Sprache, Macht, Wissen: zur Situation gehörloser und hörbehinderter SchülerInnen, Studierender & ihrer LehrerInnen, sowie zur Österreichischen Gebärdensprache in Schule und Uiversität Wien. Abschlussbericht des Forschungsprojekts 2006/2007. Universität Wien.



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