Barriers Faced by Students With Hearing Impairment in Inclusive Learning Environment, a Case of the University of Nairobi
This was a cross- sectional descriptive study on the barriers faced by hearing impaired students at the University of Nairobi. The study examined the institutional and social barriers faced by the hearing impaired students in an inclusive learning environment. The study participants comprised of 10 hearing impaired students at the university and data was obtained through semi-structured interviews and key informant interviews. The study was guided by a conceptual framework which explained the relationship between institutional and social barriers affecting the hearing impaired students and the learning outcomes achieved when the barriers were present and when the barriers had been eliminated. Data analysis was done through grounded approach in line with specific objectives. The findings reveal that significant barriers for hearing impaired students exist and they included lecturing as a mode of instruction used by lecturers and the framing of examination questions; level of education of the sign language interpreter, knowledge of content taught and a good grasp of signs by the interpreter ; inadequate classroom space and furniture, absence of overhead projectors during lectures, inadequate signage especially in workshops, poor lighting and noisy classroom environment and challenges in socially integrating with the hearing leading to loneliness and isolation. The study concludes that hearing impaired students are a special population within the university fraternity who require accommodations especially in the class that would ease their learning experience, such accommodations would include the use of overhead projectors and diagrams, avoiding movements and rushed speech while lecturing, ensuring the student seats at the front row in class and providing opportunities for class participation, encouraging turn taking during class discussions and allowing extra time during examinations. In addition, there is need for the whole fraternity to shift the negative attitudes and perceptions from that of perceiving hearing impaired students as having a defect, individuals who cannot independently make decisions or have ideas or as a group that needs pity, into seeing them as a minority group of persons who are capable of performing as their hearing peers. The study recommends that the university provide basic sign language training for teaching and non- teaching staff to help ease communication, and because Kenya Sign Language is recognized as an official language in Kenya, it should be introduced as a common course for all students, these steps will help ease communication as well as diffuse the negative attitudes and perceptions that surround deafness. All student clubs, professional associations and groups should endeavor to accommodate students with disabilities and ensure that 5% of these students hold leadership positions. The University of Nairobi disability policy should be implemented fully especially by ensuring that the disability support desks are decentralized to all the colleges, that examination questions for hearing impaired students are modified into simple English and avoiding superfluous words. Financial resources should also be provided for those requiring hearing aids and sign language training for those students who acquire deafness while at the university.
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