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Deaf Education's New Look for the 21st Century

Keywords: Announcements, Activities and Projects

The New Mexico School for the Deaf has been awarded a five year federal grant through the Star Schools program. Four staff members, Stephen M. Nover, Tommie Brasel, Lynann Barbero, and Carla Fenner wrote a grant through the United Star Distance Learning Consortium, a federally funded group of representatives from a five state region which implements and administers educational programming through distance learning. NMSD was invited to write a proposal which would complement proposals from the other four states.

The purpose of this grant is to establish a bilingual/ESL model for training teachers in effective English literacy instruction specifically for deaf and hard of hearing children. This is a collaborative effort between the New Mexico and Texas Schools for the Deaf with Stephen M. Nover acting as project director and Tommie Brasel as teacher mentor/trainer at NMSD and Betty Bounds from Texas as teacher mentor/trainer at that site.

The total grant award is 1.3 million dollars. The grant funding cycle begins October 1997 and goes through September 2002. This five year grant allows us to begin on-site training of seven teachers at NMSD and seven teachers at the Texas School for the Deaf in these new approaches to English literacy. In year two of the grant, we will develop bilingual/ESL program guidelines including a mission statement which explains the philosophical base of the bilingual/ESL approaches. In year three we will establish additional pilot sites at the Illinois and North Carolina Schools for the Deaf.

During the course of this five year project, it is our intent to develop an innovative training package for on-site teacher training in the area of English literacy development through bilingual/ESL methodologies for deaf and hard of hearing children. Additionally, we will provide parents with accurate information about bilingual/ESL education. Ultimately, we will share this teaching model with other schools for the deaf or mainstream programs nationwide using technology in either CD-ROM or videotape.

To better understand the purpose of the project, a brief description is in order. Current research in deaf education indicates a need for change. Due to unsatisfactory results of the oral approach and Total Communication approach, a third approach called Bilingual/Bicultural surfaced in the field of deaf education in the 1980's. This approach intended to use two languages: ASL and English as a medium of bilingual instruction. The "bilingual" referred to ASL and English, and "bicultural" referred to incorporation of Deaf and Hearing cultures into instruction. There are a growing number of bilingual programs for deaf and hard of hearing programs in the United States which are in their infancy. However, research shows that they are not well established, lack curricula and well-defined teaching methods. As school programs struggle with how to appropriately establish a bilingual approach and as teacher training programs also move toward initiating a bilingual approach, a framework that clearly defines all the necessary components to achieve competency in English and in ASL is imperative.

In an effort to develop a bilingual/ESL model designed for deaf students, Stephen M. Nover, NMSD Language Planner, is proposing two approaches to develop English literacy. The two approaches are a) a bilingual approach with ASL dominance and b) an ESL approach with English only. Both approaches have an essential place in educational programs for the deaf. The bilingual approach is an educational approach in which deaf children are instructed in the use of both ASL and English. The bilingual approach is based on a special curriculum that involves the dominant use of ASL and teaches English as a second language during specific school periods. The ESL approach is an educational approach in which deaf children are instructed in the use of English using little or no ASL. The main difference between the bilingual and ESL approaches is that bilingualism includes two languages, whereas ESL uses only one language.

This model is conceived to maximize deaf and hard of hearing students' affective, cognitive, and intellectual development in ASL and English, while expanding educational opportunities. The teachers will develop a comprehensive understanding of and appreciation for ASL and English. It is our hope that deaf and hard of hearing children will have the opportunity to expand their linguistic repertoires in signing, reading, writing, and speaking in ways that will enhance their abilities to participate effectively in Deaf and Hearing societies.

Stephen M. Nover
Language Planner
New Mexico School for the Deaf
1060 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87503
505-827-6739 (Main office)
505-827-6515 (my office phone number)
505-827-6684 (FAX)

Home address:
1896 Lorca Drive, Apt 33
Santa Fe, NM 87505
505-471-5411 (home)

Uploaded By: Jodi Gray/KSU/Deaf Education Major