CSUN Deaf Ed Program Awarded $1.25 Million for Teacher Preparation

Deaf education credential candidates practicing reading to Deaf children in a methods course. Photo by Ellen Schneiderman.

The federal government has awarded California State University, Northridge $1.25 million over the course of five years to train teachers who are uniquely equipped to work collaboratively with parents and others to ensure deaf students get the best education possible.

The grant, from the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education, is for CSUN’s new Interdisciplinary Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Program (IDEP). The program will develop a team that will include members of the Deaf community, parents, interpreters, paraeducators and related service professionals to help prepare teachers to more effectively impact their deaf students.

“Because of the unique and varied needs of deaf students, it is essential that Deaf educators collaborate with a wide variety of people who are invested in educating deaf children,” said Judy Coryell, the project director and an adjunct professor in CSUN’s Department of Special Education.

The interdisciplinary program was created in response to the critical shortage in the state of California of highly qualified special education professionals prepared to serve deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-and-blind students.

From 2008 to 2010, the number of such candidates enrolled in teacher-education programs in the California State University system decreased by 18 percent. In 2011, state education officials recognized the need for such educators, establishing specific goals to address the shortage.

Ellen Schneiderman and Rachel Friedman Narr, both professors in the Deaf education specialization in CSUN’s Department of Special Education, came up with the idea for a project that emphasizes bringing together all the people who have a stake in preparing highly qualified teachers.

“The essential roles of families, the Deaf community, related-service professionals like speech pathologists and audiologists, as well as interpreters and classroom assistants, will become an integral part of the content in the preparation of Deaf educators,” Friedman Narr said.

The new program will start admitting students for enrollment in spring 2015. Program faculty will recruit a limited number of qualified students.

The Deaf education teacher preparation program at CSUN is one of only two bilingual American Sign Language-English preparation programs in California. It has a national reputation for graduating highly qualified special education teaching professionals.

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