|Copyright 2011 ACE-DHH Chad E. Smith & Sherry Ernsberger, Webmasters
Deaf Education is a broad and diverse professional field that centers on the
education of children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. Teachers often concentrate
their studies in early childhood education, elementary education, or a secondary
content area. Teachers of students who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing become
experts in language acquisition and the unique learning and communication needs of
their students. Sometimes there are areas of expertise that intersect with Deaf
Education. For example, some university graduates who majored in Deaf Education
have become transition specialists who work with students who are transitioning from
school to work. Others function as educational interpreters and academic tutors in
inclusive settings. Some may work with families of newly diagnosed deaf or hard of
hearing infants and support the family during the early months as they confront and
learn the challenges of raising a deaf or hard of hearing child. There are many other
areas in which Deaf Educators expand their careers such as speech language
pathology, career technology, audiology, school counseling, social work, educational
Deaf Education provides a great foundation and career options for individuals who
are interested in working with this unique population of students.
Deaf Educators work in several different settings. They work in private schools for
the deaf such as the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia, St.
Joseph's™ School for the Deaf in St. Louis, or The Learning Center for Deaf
Children in Framingham, MA.
Educators work in state-supported residential schools for the deaf such as the Texas
School for the Deaf in Austin, the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, or the
California School for the Deaf in Fremont. Most states have a residential school for
the deaf, which provides educational services deaf and hard of hearing children
throughout the state. Sometimes the students live on campus, going home on
weekends. Often families move to be near the school so their children can live at
home and still take advantage of the educational program.
Deaf Educators also work throughout our public school system in various roles. Deaf
Educators who work in a public school setting often are itinerant teachers who travel,
much like speech pathologists, from school to school providing consultation and
individual services. In addition, Deaf Educators working in public schools serving as
resource room teachers, providing academic support for children who are included in
general education classes. And, sometimes, especially when there is a magnet
program with a large enrollment of d/Deaf and hard of hearing students, Deaf
Educators teach self-contained classes similar to other teachers in the public school
Colleges and universities offer both undergraduate and graduate programs in Deaf
Education. Depending on where you live, both options may be available to you.
There are several types of Deaf Education Teacher Preparation programs from
which to choose a program of study.
Listening and Spoken Language Programs ~ University teacher preparation
programs that focus on the preparation of these teachers emphasize audiology,
aural rehabilitation, and techniques for speech development in addition to specialized
teaching strategies. Many programs following this philosophy work with children who
have received cochlear implants or other assistive listening technologies.
Bilingual-Bicultural Programs ~ University teacher preparation programs that
focus on the preparation of bilingual-bicultural teachers emphasize teaching
American Sign Language as a first language and bridge to the development of
English (or any other spoken language). These programs also value Deaf Culture as
one of the many cultures represented by the diverse student population. Focus in
this area requires proficiency in American Sign Language and knowledge of the
visual learning needs of de/Daf and hard of hearing students.
Comprehensive Programs ~ Most university teacher preparation programs belong
to this category. Comprehensive programs provide students with a variety of
techniques in order to prepare them to be versatile enough to work with children who
are d/Deaf or hard of hearing in a variety of settings. In addition to courses in
instructional strategies, comprehensive programs may offer coursework in audiology,
speech pathology, aural rehabilitation, and sign language.