WMC gets aid to attract more to deaf studies

July 05, 2000

Western Maryland College has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to recruit more minorities for careers in deaf education.

With the five-year grant, one of 35 awarded by the department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the college will launch strategies to address a nationwide shortage of deaf-education teachers, especially those who are deaf and/or minority.

"In the U.S., 85 percent of all deaf-education teachers are hearing and not many are minorities," said Judith Coryell, an associate professor of education at WMC. "That means deaf minority children have few role models in the classroom. We want to change that."

The project, "Bilingual Pathways for Deaf, Minority and Deaf-Minority Teachers in Deaf Education," is designed to attract minority students to WMC's graduate program in deaf education, as well as give WMC students the opportunity to promote careers in deaf education at high schools with large minority populations.

The WMC graduate students will teach American Sign Language classes for community youth and adults, and assist in high school ASL courses. The program also provides other outreach opportunities for WMC deaf-education students.

This year, WMC added an undergraduate minor in deaf studies to prepare students who have shown interest in enrolling in the graduate program. Through the Pathways program, those undergraduates can qualify for internships at Gallaudet University.

Within the next year or so, Coryell said, WMC will add another phase to the project. A bilingual specialists program, which will certify students in English literacy and ASL, is scheduled to be offered next year.

Grant-funded incentives for minority and/or deaf students coming to WMC include stipends and financial support of $1,000 to $12,000, depending on training and programs.

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