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Online Master’s in Deaf Education Provides Access to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

As the provider of the online Master of Science: Special Education with Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12 Certification Program, the faculty and administration at Saint Joseph’s University is more aware than most educational institutions of the need for teachers skilled in teaching deaf and hard of hearing students, as well as programs that are accessible to students with hearing loss.

In the 2014 summer semester of the Master’s in Deaf Education, SJU offered the first online course that included live, real-time, synchronous Blackboard Collaborate sessions for deaf, hard of hearing and hearing college students. Sessions in the course, SPE 731 Language, Literacy & Communication Development for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, included real-time captioning of lectures and live video in which the students and professor could see each other. The video window also provided the option for the professor and students to use sign language to communicate when necessary.

The summer course illustrated the goal to create an environment that allows all students, including those with communication differences, to not only access the course but to fully participate in all class activities. The Universal Design (UD) concept seeks to maximize student learning by applying UD principles to all aspects of instruction — delivery, physical spaces, information resources, technology, personal interactions and assessments. Online courses provide a unique opportunity for exploring the application of UD theories and concepts.

The online Master’s in Deaf Education has seen rapid growth since its launch in the spring of 2014 — a rare event in a new program— and recently celebrated the graduation of members of the first student cohort. The high rate of interest signals the need for a fully online program in deaf education, especially as many deaf education programs are closing across the country. Recently the Michigan Department of Education invited SJU’s program to join a consortium of deaf education programs across the country to work together to provide online coursework to certify deaf education instructors.

The program is led by Dr. Samuel B. Slike, director of Special Education online programs at SJU. Dr. Slike has received honors and awards for his work in the field of deaf education and educational access. He and other faculty members are dedicated to preparing all students to work with deaf and hard of hearing children in a variety of learning environments using the latest technologies in the most effective and accessible ways possible.

To learn more about the online Master of Science: Special Education Program with Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12 Certification, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with an admissions representative or request more information.