William Hoy Council of Deaf Studies and Workforce Development a report for the Massachusetts State Legislature Chapter 526 of the Acts of 2008 April 15, 2010 Consider the following statistics

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William Hoy Council of Deaf Studies and Workforce Development

A report for the

Massachusetts State Legislature
Chapter 526 of the Acts of 2008
April 15, 2010
Consider the following statistics:

  • Deaf and hard of hearing children graduate from high school with 2.8 to 4.5 grade reading skills while hearing children graduate with 10th grade reading skills.

  • Between the ages of 8 and 18, deaf and hard of hearing children gain only 1.5 years in reading skills.

  • 57% of deaf and hard of hearing children exhibit academic deficits; 60% are unprepared for college.

  • Only 8% of deaf and hard of hearing students graduate from college.

  • Approximately one-third of all deaf adults rely on some form of governmental assistance and the average income of deaf adults is 40-60% of their hearing counterparts.

  • Approximately 40% of deaf adults are unemployed and 90% are underemployed.

Siegel, Lawrence; The Educational and Communication Needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children: A Statement of Principle Regarding Fundamental Systemic Educational Changes.  The National Deaf Education Project, Gallaudet University, 2000.

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary______________________________________________________ 3
II. Introduction ___________________________________________________________4

Background 4

Key Areas 5

Use of ASL in Massachusetts 6

Status of ASL workforce in Massachusetts 7
III. Overview of Challenges and Opportunities Related to New and Existing

Programs in Deaf Studies and American Sign Language Interpreting ______________ 10

Programs in Deaf Studies, ASL, and ASL Interpreting & Deaf 10

Education in Public and Private Higher Education Institutions

in Massachusetts

Teacher of the Deaf Licensure 12

Transfer of Deaf Studies and ASL classes between community 12

colleges and 4 year private colleges/universities

Training for teachers of ASL 13

Remedial Programs 14

Licensure of Teachers of American Sign Language/ASL as a 15

Foreign Language

Career awareness through standardizing the role of the Educational 16

Interpreter in K-12 Settings

Language Labs as a Component of Effective Deaf Studies/ASL Programs 17

IV. Financial assistance programs for undergraduate and graduate students _____________18

Financial Aid Programs for Students 18

Funding Institutional Change 18
V. Marketing and outreach on Deaf Studies and American Sign Language _____________20

Marketing and outreach targeted to developing interest in 20

Deaf Studies and ASL at the high school level
VI. Summary of Recommendations ___________________________________________21
VII. Data Collection _______________________________________________________22
VIII. Appendix ___________________________________________________________24

Appendix 1: Competency Review Topics for Foreign Language: ASL 24

Appendix 2: ASLTA Proposed Standards for Teachers of ASL 25

Appendix 3: National Standards for Foreign Language Education 29

VIII. William Hoy Council on Deaf Studies and Workforce Development Members ____30

I. Executive Summary
There are many opportunities for work with youth and adults who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and Deaf-Blind. The challenge for workforce development is to recruit and prepare American Sign Language (ASL)-proficient professionals and para-professionals for these positions. This is the report of the William Hoy Council of Deaf Studies and Workforce Development charged by the Massachusetts State Legislature to develop guidelines for postsecondary preparation programs in Deaf Studies, Deaf Education, and ASL-English interpreting; for outreach and marketing strategies to create a pipeline of students for these programs; and for financial aid programs for students attending these programs.
Several key workforce development needs are addressed:

•           Teachers of the Deaf

•           American Sign Language Instructors

•           Sign Language Interpreters

  • Professionals and para-professionals working with Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and Deaf-Blind individuals in human services positions

Current trends, concerns, and recommendations to promote viable career paths for work in these areas are presented.

  • There are clearly identified needs for employment opportunities for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind and hearing. These include positions as teachers of the deaf, a very broad range of human services personnel including such professions as nurses, mental health workers, and rehabilitation counselors, interpreters, and sign language teachers.

  • Certification and licensure requirements for teachers of the deaf present a significant barrier to staffing the necessary positions and requires expedited resolution.

  • Articulation agreements between public and private community and four-year colleges will significantly increase the educational opportunities for individuals in all of these fields of study.

  • Creating a licensure process and curriculum standards for American Sign Language instruction will enhance the courses available to students and will resolve many inherent difficulties in course quality and transferability to other institutions.

  • Targeted marketing and outreach initiatives will increase the number of individuals who demonstrate interest in these fields of employment and will sustain the numbers of professionals needed to work.

  • Federal and foundation grants provide opportunities to support teacher preparation and programs targeted to reversing achievement gaps among deaf and hard of hearing students.

The opportunities for enhanced programming, collaboration, and new initiatives identified within this report reflect extensive commitment from service providers, educators, students, and agency and program administrators who came from across Massachusetts to bring perspective, experience, and vision to the Council. 

II. Introduction
The William Hoy Council of Deaf Studies and Workforce Development was established by the Massachusetts Legislature in Chapter 526 of the Acts of 2008 with the task of developing guidelines for a grant program, financial assistance, and marketing and outreach to further advance Deaf Studies and American Sign Language (ASL) training and interpreter programs throughout the Commonwealth’s postsecondary schools. The duties of the Hoy Council tasks were directed by legislative mandate:
Develop guidelines for a grant program for the establishment, enhancement, and expansion of new and existing programs in Deaf Studies and American Sign Language interpreting in public and private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth. Include planning and implementation grants necessary for these institutions to develop and provide deaf studies and interpreting programs.
Develop guidelines for financial assistance programs for undergraduate and graduate students matriculating in public or private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth. Upon graduation, students must agree to work in fields related to the deaf or hard of hearing including, but not limited to, American Sign Language or interpreting.
Develop guidelines for marketing and outreach on Deaf Studies and American Sign Language interpreting targeted toward elementary and secondary education students.
With oversight from the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), the Hoy Council met during the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years and formed teams to identify resources, compile data, and conduct discussions with key stakeholders from the college and service provider communities. In Massachusetts, postsecondary resources include programs offered by community colleges, state colleges, and private colleges and universities. The Council sought to identify strengths within these programs and recommend guidelines for responding to gaps with a systematic model of enhanced training, recruitment, and financial support.

In developing concepts and guidelines, the Council identified qualities essential for a statewide postsecondary model of Deaf Studies and ASL workforce development: leverages existing knowledge and experience within the community college and state college systems, offers accessible and affordable entry points, offers standardized degree programs, offers transferability and career ladders, strengthens links to private universities, and reaches out to youth and others considering human service work with adults and children who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Workforce development concepts were discussed within the context of key focus areas and considerations.

Key Areas




Educational Achievement Gap Among Deaf Population

  • Percentage unable to pass MCAS

  • Need for remedial/ABE education

  • Need credential requirements and standardized job descriptions for K-12 interpreters

Teachers of the Deaf

  • Need, turnover rate

  • Number of Deaf students in MA classrooms

  • MTEL Reading test barrier

  • Deaf teachers on waivers

  • Minimum ASL requirements for Teacher of the Deaf licensure

  • Professional development for teachers with limited Deaf education of ASL skills

Human Service Workers

  • Deaf Studies & ASL training as part of a degree in a range of career paths

  • Workers with ASL skills needed in rehabilitation, community services, mental health, counseling, healthcare, gerontology, education

ASL Interpreters

  • large percentage will be retiring during the current decade

  • Starting in 2012 interpreters will be required to have a BA/BS

  • CDIs are required to have a AA/AS

  • RID Standards

  • ADA requirement

  • MCDHH Referral Statistics

ASL Teachers

  • Standardize ASL instruction in high schools

  • License ASL teachers for k-12

  • Train ASL teachers

  • Reference external credential requirements

Career awareness outreach to high school students

  • Survey to identify where ASL is being taught in K-12 settings for credit

  • Inform students of career paths involving ASL: interpreting, teaching, human services

  • ASL as foreign language elective for degrees

  • Establish agreements for high school students to take ASL as a foreign language for college credit

Flexible Training Options

  • Standardize Deaf Studies and ASL curriculum within community colleges

  • Community college and state college articulation system is an opportunity for affordable career paths

  • Use standardized skill assessment tool to verify ASL skills for transferability to private 4 year programs

  • Reference external resources for assessing ASL skills

Financial Aid Programs for Students

  • General student aid for careers in education, interpreting, human service

  • Aid specifically for Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind students

Funding Institutional Change

  • Private foundations

  • Federal Race to the Top Funds

  • US Dept of Education Title  II grants

Use of ASL in Massachusetts
Deaf Studies and American Sign Language (ASL) training programs are designed to prepare college graduates for working with people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind. There is a diverse range of fields in which graduates of these programs work with people that are deaf or hard of hearing. And, ASL is used in a range of settings as diversified as workplace meetings, employment interviews, hospital inpatient/outpatient/emergency care, K-12 educational, colleges, courtrooms, conventions, tax preparation, government proceedings, and private sector board meetings. Each of these settings reflects the proliferation of ASL users; deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind adults and children who live, learn, work, and conduct business in Massachusetts. ASL skilled workers are essential to serving this population as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) which was enacted in 1990, and under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Massachusetts’ obligation to provide ASL skilled personnel is shared by every state in the country. The nationally prevalent ASL using population is described by Harlan Lane, Robert Hoffmeister, and Ben Bahan in A journey into the deaf-world (San Diego, Calif.: DawnSignPress, 1996, p.42):

ASL is the language of a sizeable minority. Estimates range from 500,000 to two million speakers in the U.S. alone; there are also many speakers in Canada. Compared to data from the Census Bureau, which counts other language minorities, ASL is the leading minority language in the U.S. after the "big four": Spanish, Italian, German, and French.

It is estimated that of Massachusetts’ 500,000 Deaf or hard of hearing people, 50,000 communicate through ASL. This constituency significantly challenges personnel working in the public and private sectors to comply with legal mandates and conduct business practices through use of ASL.

Use of ASL impacts the economic, health, and social qualities of life in the Commonwealth beyond the workplace. Several Massachusetts state laws support vital services for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind, including two legislative Acts which recognize the human benefits of ASL in enabling cross-population communication. MGL Chapter 71 § 2B (1989) authorizes the teaching of ASL for academic credit in all public elementary and secondary schools:
“Courses in American Sign Language may be taught for the purpose of contributing to a greater understanding of the social and cultural dimensions of the language, and to encourage and enable increased interaction between hearing persons and deaf or hard of hearing persons in society. School committees may credit such courses toward satisfaction of foreign language requirements.”
And, MGL Chapter 15A § 9A (1994) authorizes the teaching of ASL for foreign language study and course credit in colleges.
This report highlights opportunities to enhance existing programs and identifies recommendations for cost effective use of resources to produce workers for employment in human services, interpreting, education, and other fields involving the Commonwealth’s population of adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Status of ASL workforce in Massachusetts
In the K-12 education system, 915 districts provide special education services to 1,286 Deaf and hard of hearing students. Relevant personnel include teachers of the deaf, teacher aides, interpreters, speech and language specialists, and other professionals. Teacher turnover occurs at a rate of 30% in Chapter 766 approved private schools which provide educational programs and services to students with special needs in Massachusetts. The three 766 approved schools serving Deaf or hard of hearing children struggle to hire from the small pool of qualified teachers.
In K-12 settings, teachers are required to pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). The reading test within this assessment system is based on phonics and inaccessible to Deaf teachers who use ASL to teach reading to Deaf children.  Because the test is a barrier to licensure, teachers who are Deaf, fluent in ASL, and trained to work with Deaf children receive waivers instead of licenses and their employment capacity is limited in Massachusetts. 
Among state agencies, demands for ASL skilled personnel come from MCDHH, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Department of Developmental Disability Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Children and Families, State 911 Commission, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Agency personnel requirements are diversified and range from salaried positions to contracted workers.
Provider agencies serve the ASL user population in community based settings with programming as diversified as Deaf and Hard of Hearing Independent Living Services (DHILS), Independent Living Centers, the Deaf Blind Community Access Network (DBCAN), and the New England Homes for the Deaf, Inc. Group homes serving Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind persons who have cognitive and mental health disabilities employ approximately 300 staff members.
Of 26,000 ASL interpreter requests received by MCDHH during FY’09, 9,000 came from state agencies, and growth in demand for ASL interpreters in healthcare and courtroom settings is particularly urgent. MCDHH Interpreter Referral Service records indicate a triple increase in the number of hospital requests for ASL interpreter services during FY’09.  Evening and weekend emergency requests increased steadily from 336 hrs in ‘FY 07 to 595 hrs in FY’ 08, to 1,282 hrs in FY ’09.

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