Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Department of Special Education

Committee Chair

Christy Borders


In education today, there is an increasing population of individuals who are d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing and English Learners (d/DHH/ELs). This population of students need innovative teaching strategies to achieve optimal outcomes. Schools are challenged with providing education to these students, and there are many barriers to overcome. Teachers receive little to no education on how to teach this combined population of learners. Students who are d/DHH/ELs arrive to the educational setting with many barriers that are present in both the school and home.

A review of the literature revealed that minimal strategies exist to support the d/DHH/EL population. Literacy strategies were explored for English learners (ELs), d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing (d/DHH), and ELs with disabilities. After reviewing the strategies for each population of learners, overlap among strategies across populations was examined. The purpose of examining the overlap was to determine strategies that might be beneficial to the d/DHH/EL population. Only five strategies overlapped among all three populations. These strategies included modeling, frequent opportunities to respond, repetition, shared reading, and explicit instruction. Therefore, providing a very limited pool of potential strategies for educators to use to support this population. Another literature review was conducted to determine teacher knowledge of d/DHH/EL population. This search revealed that teachers received little to no training and often know only a small amount of information related to teaching this population. Teachers educating this population usually bring a specific set of expertise either in deaf education or EL education. Individuals who are d/DHH/EL bring different challenges to the classroom. Often these students arrive to the academic setting already behind their peers, having little to no language development in their native language or the language spoken at school, and home support may vary (Genesee et al., 2005). These differences and delays have posed new challenges to educators and could potentially compromise the future of individuals who are d/DHH/EL because they are at increased risk for decreased literacy skills which are ultimately responsible for success both academically and in life (Hart & Risley, 2003; Heath & Hogben, 2004; Jalongo, 2008; Kalmar, 2008). The research that exists does not provide information on beneficial strategies to help these students reach their optimal potential, nor does it prove that educators are well-equipped to teach the growing population.

A qualitative study was conducted to gain a better understanding of preservice teachers, inservice teachers, supervisors of d/DHH programs, and teacher education faculty members’ perception of their knowledge, concerns, and strategies with the d/DHH/EL population. Focus groups were held at three different professional conferences and in one university course in order to capture the information desired. The study had 70 participants. Data were analyzed using open coding and pattern coding (Punch, 2014, p. 174).

The results of the study revealed that preservice teachers, inservice teachers, supervisors of d/DHH programs, and teacher education faculty members were aware that this is a growing population. Participants described the d/DHH/EL population as students who speak a language other than English and have a hearing loss. Numerous teaching strategies were described by all participants in the study. Some of strategies included: visuals, repetition, modeling, role-play, direct instruction, and experiences. All participants shared challenges and concerns they have with educating the d/DHH/EL population. The themes that emerged included: knowing a starting point, overcoming language barriers, and the overall system.

This study provided the foundation for what is known about d/DHH/ELs. Continued work is needed to evaluate teaching strategies with learner outcomes. As this population continues to grow more research is needed to assist educators in helping students accomplish their goals.


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