Friday, December 2, 2011

Deaf Students and Earning BS/BA Degree

In my first day In my Scientific bases and  society responsibilities  class,my professor Dr. Denise Thew wrote on the board 1%. She asked students to figure out what that stands for? At first we were confused. But to my surprise, she told us that the figure shows approximately percentage of deaf students who go to college and earn a bachelor degree!. This statistics surprised and shocked me. I asked myself why can’t deaf students who go  to college don’t earn B.S degree? I think there are many reasons why deaf students don’t success in college like other students.

First it could be  lack of motivation and desires  from deaf students. I have seen a lot of deaf college students who are not concerns about their success in college, despite having so much support unlike deaf students who went to college before ADA. For example, my professor Dr. Christopher Lehfeldt went to college before ADA without so much support and resources for the deaf like today. Yet, he was able to success in college and earn Dental degree. He is dentist and he has been doing it for decades. There are many deaf professionals who succeeded in college by working very hard and if every deaf college student works hard and have motivation they could success.

Secondly, language barriers could be why deaf students fell behind. Deaf student usually struggle with English language because most of them became deaf before acquiring spoken language. How deaf students are supposed to be fluent in English when they never acquired spoken language?  How are they supposed to be able to write a great college papers like other hearing students when they never heard those words?  During my written communication two class in NTID, I have seen deaf students who were determined and were working very hard but had to struggle so much with English. My professor,Dr.Denise Thew, deaf psychologist and post doctoral fellow,  says “Several reasons that only small percentage of deaf students acquire BA/BS college degree would be lack of equal accessibility to language and resources (such as interpreters, note takers, deaf role models, etc)”.  Further more Dr.Thew suggested that a delay of learning language whether it is English or ASL, or other visual language,  could be one of the several factors why deaf students don’t success in college. She said  “while growing up, as well as delay in learning the language (either English or ASL) because the discovery of hearing loss occurred after the critical period of language development, or the individual didn’t have the opportunity for a bi-cultural approach”. if the deaf children are not able to acquire spoken language in their early age, then there would be less expectation that they wwould acquire when they grow up.

I have seen a lot of deaf students in NTID who have been going to this college for 4 years, yet, the only degree they receive is Associate degree. May be if the deaf colleges  such as NTID focus more on practical teaching then there would be a lot of deaf students who can earn a bachelor degree. For example, my major is information technology. Most of the works are  done practical. Yet, if a deaf student  takes written test, he maynot be able to do well because of language barriers. But if he takes  practical tests, he could pass. By requiring deaf students to master in English language if they want to success in college and earn a BS/BA degree, would only give more advantage hearing people and there will not be a lot of deaf students who will be able to earn college degree.

I think deaf colleges like NTID and Gallaudet should focus more on practical teaching than books. What I mean is that if deaf students are required to read books like hearing students, and they are required to write great papers like hearing students. How are they supposed to success? Deaf cannot acquire language like hearing. Don’t misunderstand me, but I believe this is the main factor why many deaf students could not earn a bachelor degree. I am not saying that deaf students should be waived to study hard like other students, but what I mean is that shifting from what is written on the book to practical. It is very hard  for deaf students to be fluent in spoken language easily.  For example I am profoundly deaf. I became deaf when I was in high school and I speak several languages. Yet, English is my hardest language. I never expect to be fluent in English like hearing people. So I don't think it is fair that deaf students to be required to acquire English language like hearing and write a great college papers.


  1. With all due respect, the 1 percent is inaccurate and I suggest you to check out It reports that 15 percent of those who are deaf earned a BA/BS in 2008 while 30 percent of their hearing counterparts earned a degree. I believe about 30 percent of the total population of America has a degree. Still, these figures are horrible and I concur with your professor that this is a serious/important issue. I hope that helps.

  2. JP

    I am sorry for replaying to your comment late.
    I agree with you that this figure might not be correct for today statics. However, 15% is still too small. And there could be questioned about that estimate of 15%. How many are born deaf and earned B.S? how many of this figure are hard of hearing or late deafened? this still needs to be addressed.

  3. I see dental field as my career and want suggestion for best training place for learning practical work. I have choosen Cosmetic Dentistry, Barnegat, NJ for me. What do you think?

    1. Hello sarah, I know this comment is a little over three years, i hope you get this, but did you ever decide on your career path?