I was fifteen years old before I finally found out what a certain sex-related term meant. This, in spite of the fact that I was a bright, well-read deaf teen. Later, I learned that most hearing children learn what it means at a much younger age.
Given that many deaf students because of language delays may be emotionally and socially immature while physically mature, sex education tailored for their communication needs becomes critically important in order to prevent future problems. Fortunately, some materials are available for parents and teachers to use, plus some research articles have been written.
The Described and Captioned Media Program has many captioned video materials available on sexuality and related topics. A search of the subject, "sex education" turned up the following titles as an example:
- ABSTINENCE: DECIDING TO WAIT- CFE 2648
- ABSTINENCE...IT'S THE RIGHT CHOICE- CFE 3204
- BABY BLUES- CFE 3005
- BIRTH CONTROL: MYTHS AND METHODS- CFE 2653
- BIRTH CONTROL: YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, YOUR CHOICE- CFE 2154
- CAN A GUY SAY NO- CFE 2260
- CHANGES- CFE 2598
I could not find any books devoted solely to sex education for deaf students. However, the following books of signs used in sex communication are available:
- Signs of Sexual Behavior compare prices
- Signs for Sexuality - Available through some deaf/hoh product vendors and Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, the publisher.
Research and Publications
Some articles and materials have been published on the topic of sexuality and deaf students, or about sex education for disabled in general. A sampling:
- Deafness and human sexuality: A developmental review. An article was in the American Annals of the Deaf, 126, 432-439. (This was also found in the bibliography accompanying an article on sex, roles and responsiblities in Perspectives in Education and Deafness, March-April 1998).
- Sexuality Education for Children and Youth with Disabilities - This publication from the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities has a bibliography section on hearing impairment that listed three publications from the eighties, all from Gallaudet University.
- The Special Education Services Agency (Sesa.org) in Alaska covered sex education in its Spring 2002 newsletter.
More Materials on Deafness and SexualityThese additional materials on deafness and sexuality are available:
- Sexuality education in residential and day schools for deaf students : curricular components and administrative practices, by Susan Jacoby. This is an electronic book and thesis that was done at Gallaudet University in 2005.
- A comparative study of sex knowledge among hearing and deaf college freshmen is a study that was published in the journal Sexuality and Disability, Volume 11, Number 2 , June, 1993. This study compared the sex knowledge of deaf Gallaudet University freshmen with the sex knowledge of hearing freshmen at other colleges. According to the abstract: "the data collected demonstrate that deaf college freshmen lag behind hearing college freshmen in nearly every aspect of sex knowledge examined." The study can be downloaded for a fee from Springerlink.com.
Who knows how long I might have had to wait to find out the meaning of that word if I had not had a summer romance in the summer of 1980?