Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Attitudes Toward Persons with Sensory Disabilities

People with sensory disabilities receive low academic and behavioral expectations because they tend to keep to themselves and minimize joining in social activities (Smith et al, 2008; Ting and Gilmore, 2012).
Stephens et al (2000) reviewed literature on attitudes toward persons with deafness and hearing impairment and discussed that results have little difference across various countries. They generalized that the attitudes toward the deaf and hearing impaired are negative. Olika (2009) also noted in her study that children with hearing impairment received more negative than positive attitudes from hearing people. The informants also said that many hearing people are rude, mean, screaming insulting words, isolating and neglecting the hearing impaired child.
Walker (2008) also examined counselors-in-training’s attitude toward persons who are blind or visually impaired and found that the participants held rejecting or negative attitudes. Lecturers in South Africa find teaching them a problem and consider these students a burden (Mushome and Monobe, 2013). General education teachers identify them as the students they least want to have in their classrooms (Horne, 1983 in Wall, 2002). In less intimate situations (e.g. workplace), people are comfortable interacting with them but not in helping situations or if close personal contact is required (Stovall and Sedlavek, 2010). Among employers, persons with sensory disabilities (together with cognitive and behavioral disabilities), were found to be the most difficult to accommodate in the workplace as compared to medical, neurological and physical disabilities (Center for Information, Training & Evaluation Services, 2003).
On the other hand, Stanlland (2009) noted that nine out of ten of the respondents in British Social Attitudes Survey in 2009 are fairly or very comfortable interacting with persons with sensory impairments in various situations (e.g as a boss, spouse, school/classmate, neighbor). The same survey also found out that persons with sensory disabilities are less likely to encounter prejudice from the public. Furthermore, teachers are positive in including persons with sensory impairment (Mamah et al, 2011, Prakash, 2012). They are more willing to accommodate these students than those with emotional problems or with physical disabilities (Wolman et al, 2004, Stephens et al, 2000). Miller at al (2009) also found that students expressed the most willingness to have relationships with persons with sensory disabilities as compared to those with cognitive and psychiatric disabilities. Galloway (1972) also found that counselors from four different populations have positive attitudes towards the deaf.
Women generally are more comfortable than men in their attitudes toward persons with sensory disabilities (Stanlland, 2009). Prakash (2012) reported in his study that female teachers showed more positive attitudes towards children with hearing impairment in their classroom when compared to male teachers. On the other hand, Walker (2008) reported that gender was not found to be significant in the attitudes toward persons with sensory disabilities.
           In relation to the current study in which age is a variable, it is revealed that its impact on attitudes is not consistent across scenarios particularly with persons with sensory disabilities (Stanlland, 2009). For instance, the youngest age group reported the least comfort interacting with people with sensory disabilities in workplace/boss scenarios but not in marriage and school scenarios. No significant differences in the attitudes of the participants were found when grouped according to age (Walker, 2008). On the other hand, Stephens et al (2000) indicated that age was significant as to whether persons with sensory disabilities make a lesser contribution to the society. Older respondents were more likely than younger respondents to indicate that persons with sensory disabilities make a lesser contribution to the society.

Walker (2008) and Galloway (1972) found that no significant difference between groups according to education (masteral or doctorate) among counselors in their attitudes toward persons with sensory disabilities. These however is inconsistent with Prakash (2012) who reported that teachers with post graduate education held statistically more positive attitudes toward persons with sensory disabilities compared to those who only have bachelor’s degree.

In term of contact, Walker (2008) found no significant associations between attitudes and contact toward persons with sensory disability. However, if the participants were grouped according to their experience with persons with sensory disabilities (none, casual, work-related, intimate), a significant difference was found in the respondents attitudes. Also, Wall (2002) reported that teachers with more direct or indirect exposure and experience with persons with sensory disabilities hold more positive attitudes than those with less experience.
image source: http://www.cbm.org/programmes/images/8856819_eb8a6b8555.jpg

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