Date of Award
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
Medical Subject Headings
Occupational Therapy, Hearing Impairment, Deaf, Inclusion, Social Skills
Children are encouraged to engage in various play, leisure, and social participation activities to enhance the development of life skills, independence, and social skills. A common leisure and social participation activity for children aged 6 to 18-years-old is to attend residential camp. Residential camps provide children a structured opportunity to engage in leisure activities while learning to become independent and self-confident when socializing and making new friends. Attending camp can be a fun and engaging environment to help accelerate growth in key developmental outcomes, such as positive identity, social skills, physical skills, positive values, and spirituality.
Within the residential camp setting, children are encouraged to become self-reliant away from their caregivers while participating in their activities of daily living; as well as explore new occupations such as learning new camp songs, swimming, hiking, crafting, archery and other activities provided by the camp. The introduction of the new occupations, in a new environment may present challenges for children with hearing impairments. By attending camp, the child has an opportunity to empower themselves by learning to self-advocate when they are unable to hear or need adapted services.
Occupational therapists have the skills necessary to help develop camp programs to be comfortable, restorative, socially inclusive and therapeutic for children and adolescents with disabilities. Using occupation-focused skills and processes, occupational therapists are trained to advocate for and facilitate occupational outcomes that can enhance a person or group’s capabilities, social inclusion, and well-being. Within a residential camp setting, the focus of inclusion should target equal participation in activity, communication, and social acceptance of individuals with hearing impairments. The goal of inclusion can be accomplished through various techniques including policy and program development founded on the principles of social inclusion.
The goal of this capstone project was to address the environmental and social needs of a residential camp to meet the physical and social needs of hearing-impaired children. Through the perspective of occupational therapy, camp counselors were provided education on strategies to encourage social skills, communication, and social inclusion within the camp environment. The process included a survey for camp staff with follow-up interviews, to gather information for the needs assessment that was used to create an educational module for staff.
The guidebook incorporates inclusionary strategies to help the campers and the staff develop inclusive mindsets and social skills that can be applied within their daily lives. Throughout the guidebook are tips and tricks of inclusion from the occupational therapy lens, in addition to relevant data from the authors research study. The guidebook is then broken down into seven chapters that range from learning the basics about hearing impairment, the camp environment, inclusion strategies, and American Sign Language education.
Coles, T. (2020). Exploring accessibility and social inclusion for children with hearing impairments in residential camps through the occupational therapy lens. [Doctoral project, University of St Augustine for Health Sciences]. SOAR @ USA: Student Capstone Projects Collection. https://doi.org/10.46409/sr.OUCQ5142
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