Membership Vs Visitorship: What's the difference?

Membership Vs Visitorship: What's the difference?

It's no secret that an inclusive learning environment is paramount for deaf and hard of hearing children in educational settings. It ensures they not only have access to learning but that they are also a true 'member' within their educational community.

Unfortunately, all too often, our deaf and ahrd of hearing children are treated more as visitors in their learning programs, rather than equal members who own a seat at the table.

This 'visitorship' approach can lead to feelings of isolation and actually hinder the development of a deaf/HH child's academic, social and emotional development  as they grow. True inclusion goes beyond providing accommodations; it involves fostering a sense of belonging, understanding, and acceptance when it comes to the diverse cohort of deaf/HH children. 

Our kids SHOULD be active members of their educational communities, with their unique perspectives valued and celebrated. Creating an inclusive space ensures they can thrive academically and socially, contributing their diverse experiences to the rich tapestry of the learning environment. 

I often talk about this idea of membership vs visitorship with my clients and early learning educators, but what does it actually mean? 

Well, let's break it down...

If a deaf child is a VISITOR in their learning program, they:

❌ Are a body in the room without any attachment to those in the group
❌ Often left to play on their own
❌ Are left out of sound-based activities and learning opportunities
❌ Aren't expected to do the same independent things as their peers (E.g. line up, put their own lunchbox away or engage in an activity)
❌ Aren't provided access to the same information, instruction or transition as their peers
❌ Are the "responsibility" of one person
❌ Aren't expected to form peer groups or be involved in peer interactions

If a deaf child is a MEMBER in their learning program, they:

✅ Are actively included in ALL learning opportunities and activities
✅ Are given the same access to information, instruction and transitions as their hearing peers
✅ Have a connection and relationship with ALL educators in the room
✅ Are provided opportunities to build meaningful peer relationships and be involved in their interactions
✅ Are expected to do the same independent tasks as their hearing peers
✅ Are not just provided with key word interactions that lack the complexity of real language

Deaf children CAN and WILL, if they are given the opportunity to.

But if we perpetuate the societal myth that they CAN'T, then they WON'T.

Plain and simple.
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