Is there an “attitude problem” in information provision for parents of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing? An analysis of the types and frequency of attitudinal language within two early intervention websites

Ms Emily  Kecman1

1Macquarie University


Previous research into information provision in this area also suggests that an “attitude problem” may exist in this area—with information often stemming from attitudes, values or beliefs rather than the evidence-base (Kecman, 2017; Matthijs et al., 2012). One of several concerns about such an attitudinal presence within information is that it can create a situation of information asymmetry, whereby the potential benefits of some options may be very clearly communicated, whilst parents may remain uninformed about any potential risks, challenges or uncertainties associated with these options, and may also not be made aware of the potential benefits of alternate approaches. Although recent best practice guidelines call for service providers to be “family-centered” in approach—(for example to respect family differences and to support processes of informed choice and self-efficacy and self efficacy)(Moeller, Carr, Seaver, Stredler-Brown, & Holzinger, 2013), questions have arisen about how consistently recommended principles are implemented (Decker & Vallotton, 2016). Despite these concerns, there has been very little systematic investigation of contemporary information products provided to parents. To address this gap, this study used APPRAISAL Analysis (Martin & White, 2005), which is a method for analysing speakers’ and writers’ expressions of ‘attitudes’ towards people and things that yields both qualitative and quantitative findings. The analysis was applied to the websites of two major Australian early intervention providers for children who are DHH. This paper reports on the evaluative language used within the websites to communicate meanings about the roles and abilities of key stakeholders. The results highlight evaluative patterns within the websites that appear inconsistent with family-centered principles. Service providers are presented as expert/helpers whilst children and their parents are evaluated as “conditionally successful”; the condition being they receive the “right” kind of help from the “right” organization. Implications of these findings for families are discussed.


Emily Kecman is a mother of three children, one of whom is deaf. She is also a PhD candidate with the Linguistics department at Macquarie University and also a secondary school teacher with the NSW Department of Education and Training. She has a Bachelor of Creative Arts/Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wollongong, a Masters of Teaching from Sydney University and a Masters of Research in Linguistics from Macquarie University. Emily’s research investigates the ways that issues affecting the lives of families of deaf and hard-of-hearing children are researched and represented within influential publications in contemporary contexts.