The voices of deaf experts and emerging adults
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Deaf emerging adults in the U.S. public education system are eligible to receive federally mandated transition services for preparation to enter their adult life. Transition planners and programs lack systematic information from the perspectives of deaf experts concerning what adult life tasks are necessary for meeting the demands of adulthood. Conducted in two phases, this study examined the importance of adult life task items and frequency of coverage of adult life tasks in secondary transition programs. A researcher-developed instrument was used with deaf experts to determine which adult life tasks are important for adulthood. This study is unique in the fact that it relied solely on the voices of deaf experts and deaf emerging adults to produce empirical data. Informed by the results of the deaf experts, a sequential instrument was developed for Phase II of this study to be used with recently transitioned deaf emerging adults. They provided reports of coverage of important adult life tasks experienced in their transition programs. This study found the ratings of the deaf experts on the importance of adult life tasks affirmed that many adult life tasks are necessary for transition programs to cover, particularly items from the construct of vocation and career. The study affirmed deaf emerging adults experienced varying levels of coverage of adult life tasks in their transition programs. Ancillary data suggested some deaf emerging adults’ transition programs failed to comply with standards set by the U.S. Department of Education in response to IDEA (1990, 1997, 2004). The study provides areas where improvement of coverage of the most important adult life tasks are needed for deaf emerging adults in transition programs. The developed instrument has applicability to future research examining preparation for adulthood in transition programs by deaf emerging adults. Implications for theory and future research in adult education and future research concerning transition programs and deaf emerging adults are discussed.