Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Rod P. Githens

First Committee Member

Laura Hallberg

Second Committee Member

Stephen Roberts


This study was undertaken to explore and understand the attitudes and beliefs of audiology students about Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. The problem of practice was that some audiologists continue to advise parents not to sign with their Deaf or Hard of Hearing children. This problem was studied using the conceptual framework of General Systems Theory, looking at the problem through the lens of Critical Disability Theory, to determine if audiology students view Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from a medical model or from a social/cultural model. Using a qualitative case study methodology, I interviewed six first-year doctor of audiology (AuD) students at a university on the west coast of the United States to delve deeply into their attitudes and beliefs about Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

This study found that these audiology students had overall social/cultural attitudes about Deaf people on the Attitudes to Deafness Scale. Yet, in case-study interviews, which provided a more in-depth look at the views of the students, the terminology the students used demonstrated some institutionalized audist attitudes and beliefs. Every student showed a mixture of medical and social/cultural beliefs. The students made a distinction between the words “Deaf” and “Hard of Hearing.” All the students believed that parents of Deaf children should be offered “communication options” – (signed or spoken language). The four students who had studied American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture were more open to the use of ASL. The two students who had the lowest scores on the Attitudes to Deafness Scale had no experience or background in ASL and demonstrated a preference for amplification technology and spoken language. The students believed that Hard of Hearing children should be raised with spoken language only. The students had a positive attitude about ASL but demonstrated a preference for spoken language. The audiology students understood their role in the medical system, but did not yet understand their part in the Deaf education system. They believed that parent-to-parent support is important but did not understand how audiologists might collaborate with the Deaf community and with teachers of the Deaf as families journey through the process of raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.



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