There are a number of different school structures that focus on different methods of teaching students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Bilingual Deaf Schools
Bilingual deaf schools enrol deaf and hard-of-hearing students
These schools adopt a bilingual approach to instruction in the classroom. In Australia, bilingual deaf schools teach in both Auslan and English.
Both languages are assigned equal status
These classrooms will typically have students who are deaf, hard-of-hearing and with other disabilities enrolled together. The important thing to note is that these settings typically encourage students to develop a sense of pride in their identity, and they actively promote and uphold an equal regard and status of their culture and identity.
Oral deaf Schools
Oral deaf schools enrol deaf students and use an auditory-oral only approach
In such settings, sign language is not encouraged and sometimes not permitted. The core focus is on learning how to use hearing aids and/or cochlear implants, developing and acquiring speech and eventually integrating into the mainstream (hearing world).
Integration in Mainstream Schools
Integrating into the mainstream (hearing) classroom
This modality is fast becoming the standard, especially in western society where deaf and hard-of-hearing students join mainstreamed (hearing) classrooms, which are supported by an educational sign language interpreter or teaching assistant.
One-to-one support provided separately
Students (deaf and hard-of-hearing) requiring additional support, can access external one-to-one support where required or requested.
Bilingual–bicultural schools are mainstream schools
These schools are different from typical integration in mainstream schools in that they facilitate a co-enrolment approach where the class features a regular classroom teacher as well as a teacher of the deaf.
Both teachers are sign language proficient
Sign language and written/spoken language have equal status and are taught to the whole class regardless of their hearing capabilities. Hearing students learn about Deaf and hard-of-hearing culture and deaf and hard-of-hearing students can practise communicating with the hearing students and learn more about hearing culture.
Helps to break down barriers
These schools aim to breakdown communication barriers, increase openness and helps to fosters an appreciation for diversity in the classroom and beyond.