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Transition from school to TAFE

Moving from school to TAFE is a challenging time for all young people, deaf or hearing. It is a time of enormous change and where responsibility for their education shifts from parents and teachers to the young person themselves. Choices need to be made about future careers and the courses required to gain employment in one's chosen career. As well, for all young people, their wished for career may not be one that they can realistically attain. All of this creates enormous stress and confusion for the young person and often for their parents, as well.

Is transition to TAFE different for deaf and hard of hearing students?

For young deaf people, this transition can become even more confusing and problematic because of what their experience of education has been through primary and secondary school. Generally speaking, most deaf people's educational experience is very "unnatural", in the sense that they receive far more individual support in their learning environment and many of their needs are anticipated by others along every step of their educational path. Even when a hearing loss is far less significant, and the student has attended a mainstream school with only visiting teacher support, more is done educationally to try and compensate for the reduction in information access and unconscious learning that they experience as a result of their hearing loss. When the hearing loss is more severe to profound, and the student has attended either a mainstream school with deaf facility or a special school for the deaf, the amount of educational support increases proportionally to the individual's specific needs.

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What happens after they leave school?

After leaving school, the additional support that a deaf student has had ceases.  This often leaves a deaf adolescent in a support "vacuum" and, frequently, unable to articulate their own support needs. This is because in their previous learning environments, all of their needs were anticipated for them. They then "land" in either TAFE or university to a learning environment that is significantly different to secondary school. They are expected to take control of their own learning, undertake the necessary study and produce the necessary results with little to no support from their teachers or lecturers. All of this occurs at a time when they are experiencing far greater personal freedom. Their lives are rapidly changing and, as a result, some struggle with their new found responsibilities and freedoms. Of course, it is not only young people with a hearing loss who struggle in this way; all young people do. However, a young person with a hearing loss may find that they feel more overwhelmed by these sudden changes because, until now, their learning environment has usually been quite a protected one.

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How can you - as a parent - support your son and daughter through the transition?

One of the best ways to support your deaf son or daughter through the changes they confront in this transition between learning environments is to make certain that:

  • they are aware of their degree of hearing loss
  • they understand their support needs
  • they are able to articulate those needs to others
  • they have coping strategies for times when support is not immediately forthcoming, and
  • they know what their rights are under equal opportunity legislation

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Information provided by the Centre for Excellence for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NMIT).
Reproduced with permission.
 

10-Nov-2015 8:28 PM (AEST)