South African Journal of African Languages

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A look at language problems experienced by children with hearing impairments—the learner’s experience

Francis Emson Dakwa, Martin Musengi


The study examines language problems experienced by children with hearing impairments as perceived by the learners themselves. Thirty children were randomly selected from a special school for children with hearing impairments and from two resource rooms where children with hearing impairments were being included with their counterparts in an ordinary school. A questionnaire with both open-ended and closed questions was administered to this sample. The questions sought to establish the hearing status of the parents, siblings and friends of the children with hearing impairments. Furthermore, the questionnaire sought to determine the language problems faced at home, at school as well as during the child’s communication with friends. Frequency tables were used in the analysis of data. The results revealed that children with hearing impairments experienced communication and language problems at home and at school. They had to learn either Chishona or isiNdebele at home, as well as Zimbabwe Sign Language at school. There is need for the parents and siblings to be taught Zimbabwe Sign Language for communication and educational purposes. Children who are deaf need early language stimulation which will include Zimbabwe Sign Language, in addition to Chishona or isNdebele.
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