We problems, epilepsy and diabetes,the present investigation takes

We live in a world full of
diversity. Every form of living and non-living being is quite unique and
different from each other. At times we lack words to appreciate the
unimaginable creativity of God when we find that no single creation is an exact
replica of the other. A child is born in this world with its own unique
abilities and capacities of body and mind. Some are fortunate enough to have
extraordinary abilities or capacities, while others are averages or even suffer
from so many deficits and deficiencies from birthonwards. This gap between the
abilities and capacities of the children related to their development, learning,
and adjustment found at an early stage may further be widened by the nature of
the environmental differences encountered by them in their nourishment and
education. It results in labeling them as unusually superior or inferior,
capable or incapable in one or the other aspects of their personality
development.

 Some children deviate physically, mentally,
socially and educationally from normal children. Such children are called
exceptional children and they require special educational care and their
adjustment problems have to be tackled in an exceptional manner(Bala&Rao,2007).

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According to Bala&Rao (2007)
the exceptional children can be categorized into four groups:

1.  Gifted children with a high level of
intelligence or a special aptitude for music, painting etc.

2.  Mentally retarded or challenged children with
a low level of intelligence.

3.  Physically challenged children such as blind,
deaf, dumb, etc., and

4.  Socially disadvantaged children such as
orphans, destitute etc.

The physically challenged includes
the hearing impaired, partially hearing impaired, or hard of hearing, partially
sighted, crippled, cerebral palsied, and those with special health problems
such as cardiac problems, epilepsy and diabetes,the present investigation takes
into consideration hearing impaired adolescents, and hence a brief description
about them.

The hearing impaired can be
classified into two types-deaf and hard of hearing. Deafness is a severe
disability. Those people who are deaf have a hearing loss to the extent that it
prevents understanding speech though the ear. On the other hand, people who are
hard of hearing can process information from sounds and they can be benefited
by hearing aids. These two groups of people can be categorized further into various
sub-groups on the basis of

Degree of hearing
impairment,
Causes of the
deficit, and
Onset of the
disability, and language development.

(a) 
Degree
of hearing impairment

            Degree
of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss. The
classification of Clark (1981) on the basis of the degree of hearing impairment
is as follows:

i.    Mild
hearing loss (26-40 dB loss): 
Children with mild hearing deficit may find
it hard to follow speech, particularly in noisy situations. They
need full integration with the regular classes with special services and
materials provided under the guidance of the specialists. They have difficulty
in hearing distant sounds and require hearing aids or microphones with loud
speakers.

ii.   Moderate
hearing loss (41-70 dB loss): Those with moderate hearing
deficit have difficulty following speech without a hearing aid.The
hearing impaired need partial integration in regular schools with some classes
in regular setting and some classes in special settings. They have difficulty
in hearing distant sounds as well as near sounds of low frequency and pitch.
They require both special training and hearing aids.

iii.  Severe
hearing loss (71-90 dB loss): Children who have severe hearing impairment
need self-contained programmes in partially integrated system of education. The
severely hearing impaired rely primarily on lip-reading, even with a hearing
aid.

iv.  Profound
hearing loss (Above 90 dB loss): Their hearing impairment is so profound
that they cannot be benefited by integrated classes in any way. These children
always need special classes and special schools to study by using very special
materials and techniques. It is because they can neither hear distant nor near
sounds even if the sounds are above normal frequency. They require lip reading
or Sign Language for learning.

(b)  Causes of the deficit

We
hear by channelling sounds from the environment into the external ear,
converting these sounds into mechanical vibrations in the middle ear, and
converting the vibrations into the neural signals that go to the brain. The
four major causes of hearing loss are:

i. Conductive
hearing loss occurs when sound does not get through the outer and middle
ear structures efficiently. Any blockage of the ear canal can interfere with
sound transmission. Conductive hearing loss is often caused by a buildup of
fluids in the middle ear due to infections.

ii.Sensorineural
hearing loss occurs when sound that gets to the
inner ear is not transmitted to the brain or is transmitted in a distorted
manner. Damage to the cochlea and the auditory nerve will bring about
sensorineural hearing loss.

iii.Central
auditory processing problems results from the inability of the brain to
process or interpret the signals that are delivered. This symbolic processing
disorder may show itself in the inability of a person to perceive sounds,
discriminate among sounds, or even comprehend language that is received. People
with auditory processing problems will usually have difficulty learning or
using language.

iv.Mixed
hearing loss occurs when a person has a combination of both a conductive
hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss.

(c)Onset of the
Disability, and language development:

            White
House conference on Child Health and Protection (1931) provides the following
criteria:

1.     Born
defectives are those who are born with sufficient hearing loss to prevent
the spontaneous acquisition of speech. The speech of these children will always
be defective and they will be dumb forever.

2.     Pre-lingual
deafness occurs before the development of language and speech. The speech
of the affected person is retarded throughout life.

3.     Post-lingual
deafnessoccurs after the development of language and speech. Educational
treatment for postlingual hearing loss usually centers on the maintenance of
speech and learning skills that were developed prior to the onset of the
hearing problem (Glover, 1931).

The following are the signs
and symptoms of hearing impairment:

1.   Difficulties following oral presentations and
directions.

2.   Requires frequent repetition.

3.   Watches lips of teachers or other speakers
very closely.

4.   Turns head and leans toward speakers.

5.   Uses limited vocabulary.

6.   Uses speech sounds poorly.

7.   Shows delayed language development.

9.   Answers or
responds inappropriately in conversation

10. Constantly turns volume up on radio or
television.

11. Complains of earaches, have frequent colds or
ear infections, or has ear discharge.

12. Feels stressed out from straining to hear what
others are saying(Mangal,2007).

8.   Often does not respond when called from
behind.

Hearing
Impairment and Sign Language

Importance of sign language
as a communication skill for the hearing impaired was pointed out by Mangal
(2007). According to him, sign language is one of the popular methods included
under manual communication approach among the hearing impaired. By sign
language used for teaching communication skills to the

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