The Deaf Education and Hearing Science Program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will receive a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for best practices based on research in preparing deaf education teaching professionals.
This is the program’s fourth consecutive grant in the highly competitive Department of Education competition, and the grant submission stood out among 77 from programs preparing a wide range of professionals in varying disability categories. The selection of awardees is blinded and peer reviewed.
The Deaf Education and Hearing Science Program now has achieved more than $3.7 million in support of graduate-level training of these highly sought teaching professionals, said Program Director Blane Trautwein, EdD, CED (certification of the Council on Education of the Deaf). Grants are awarded through the education department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
“Our grant is called D.E.E.P. (Deaf Education and Educational Psychology) Impact,” Dr. Trautwein said. “As part of it, our Deaf Education and Hearing Science students take nine hours in educational psychology at The University of Texas at San Antonio. This allows them to learn how to use test results to better inform practice. UTSA educational psychology students, in turn, take six hours in deaf education with us. This allows them to learn how to work with children who have hearing loss or delayed language.”
Answering needs of students and families
Five members of this year’s cohort of students in the Deaf Education and Hearing Science master’s degree program are the first college graduates in their families, Dr. Trautwein said. The Department of Education grant provides qualified students a one-time stipend and covers all fees of their graduate studies, ensuring that they enter their careers in deaf education without debt from the graduate program.
“There is a severe national shortage of teachers of the deaf,” said Sarah Ammerman, PhD, CED, the Harriet and J. David Oppenheimer Endowed Professor in Deaf Education and Hearing Science at the health science center. “There are lots of kids out there who are underserved, who don’t have a teacher of the deaf who is dedicated to their development.
“And there is an even worse shortage of teachers who, going beyond sign language, know how to facilitate listening and spoken language in hearing-impaired children. There are families who want that for their child but don’t have a teacher like that in their community. A grant like this will change that for them.”
Among largest American programs
The Deaf Education and Hearing Science Program at UT Health Science Center San Antonio is diverse with students coming to the program from around the nation. The program educates 10-12 teachers of the deaf per year and is one of the larger programs of its type in the U.S. Many programs train three or four students per year, Dr. Trautwein said.
Both Dr. Trautwein and Dr. Ammerman joined the field after having a deaf friend during childhood. Dr. Trautwein met his friend at a summer camp. Dr. Ammerman met her friend, a little girl who joined from a special school into her public school, in fifth grade. Dr. Ammerman still keeps in touch with her friend.
Applications are being accepted for the next student cohort of Deaf Education and Hearing Science that begins the master’s degree program in May 2022, Dr. Trautwein said. The program is under the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. Dr. Trautwein thanked Frank Miller, MD, department chairman, for his support, along with Heather Koenig of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Taylor Troy, administrative assistant.