Deaf School Graduate Education Funding

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It is with vast fervor that funding for a graduate career in the Special and Deaf education be established in this country. Many educated individuals are no longer being considered as qualified due to just having a four-year degree and therefore, a graduate program is needed. We have a duty to those that are less fortunate than us as far as them being able to obtain the specific teaching needed so they can live rewarding lives. We also have a duty to ourselves to enrich our minds with the needed specifications for a higher degree and any necessary teaching that may allow us to better smooth the progress of knowledge to deaf and special needs individuals.

It is a reality that ninety percent of deaf students are born into hearing families and most are not diagnosed as deaf until the ages of 2-5. These individuals tend to have minimal signed or spoken language exposure during the initial years of life, causing a language progress interruption as learning how to read and write English can be a task for deaf students ("How to Become a Teacher of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students," 2013). Mainstreaming into a public school is a problem for many students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Most regular education teachers need supplementary training on how to teach those that cannot hear well, or at all. The situation is exclusive for all involved, both at the state level and on an individual level. While technology has enhanced noticeably, there are still accommodations needed for these students (Roy, 2009) and the onus is on us to make it possible that they receive the needs of quality education. All 54 states/territories have specific thresholds that must be adhered to for teachers who opt to teach deaf or special students. 

All 54 states necessitate that special education teachers be entirely licensed to teach. As with conventional teaching programs, deaf education teachers must obtain examinations to confirm their understanding of the field in which they work. The state then issues teaching licenses once the certification assessment is passed (Lewis, 2013). For example, in California, which is also consistent for other states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington and Utah, a teaching credential is a requirement and a mentor is recommended to give you advice and feedback on how best to communicate with the students, being careful of the mainstreaming process until they're ready. Many schools on the West Coast utilize different communicative strategies in their teachings that some schools in other areas of the country do not ("California School for the Deaf…," 2009; Rose, 2011; "Programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students…" 2000 ). Unfortunately, as of 2012, Nevada and Wyoming do not have school programs geared towards individuals who seek to teach the deaf.

There are a plethora of areas in which teachers of the deaf and special needs may consider such as speech-language pathology, audiology, educational administration or educational interpreters. In certain areas, such as South at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, and at St. Joseph's School for the Deaf in St. Louis, the emphasis is placed on an additional examination for those who want to teach in specific areas of deaf teaching. The emphasis is more so on advanced education than detailed teaching at the undergraduate level in the Midwest and the southern states. Certain universities such as Washington University in St. Louis, Michigan State University in Michigan and Texas Woman's University offer oral-aura programs, with emphasis placed on speech development techniques and aural rehabilitation as well as bilingual-bicultural programs that emphasize sign language in other languages in addition to American Sign Language. These are unique to certain programs within the Midwest and south ("ACE-DHH," 2011; Johnson, 2003). Employers in these areas of the United States look to see that those looking to teach in the field of deaf teaching have these special skills.  

Most states where deaf education is available for teachers to advance their knowledge abide by baseline findings referred to in the 1965 Babbidge report. While this is not the end-all, be-all for future progress in the approval guidelines for the teaching of deaf students, the investigation has been noted that it is very thorough, even by today's standards in an ever-changing society. Recommendations suggest that United States Department of Education work with state agencies to institute standards for training of individuals to work with D/HH infants, toddlers and their families; have teaching individuals particularly competent to enter the field; and to make certain that preparations such as additional assessments and qualifications are performed for teachers considering the pathway of special education (Johnson, 2003). Certain states, those predominantly in the East Coast, Hawaii, the District of Columbia require in addition to standards set forth in findings associated with the guidelines by the US Department of Education, what is known as Praxis, which is specific certification exam administered by the Educational Testing Service. There are various types of Praxis tests that are usually required before, during and after teacher training. Praxis typically consists of two separate tests, Praxis 1 and 2. Each test covers many different subject areas unique to the teaching component. Other states such as California, Florida, and Georgia, require those who want to teach deaf children to take state-specific exams in lieu of Praxis ("About the Praxis Exam," 2013; "Alternative Teacher Certification…," 2010). Every state that provides education of an undergraduate nature abides by these guidelines and informs those considering additional education along these lines.

Funding is necessary for a graduate career given the varying requirements that those who want to teach deaf children to encounter. The genuine concern for those of special needs is one teacher take with great depth and as it varies from state to state, it is important that graduate education be an essential component in this teaching process.


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