Community Foundation for SE MichiganThe Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has made a $30,000 grant to Madonna University to support the creation of a deaf education program. Currently no university in Michigan offers a program preparing students to educate deaf children.

The programs that existed in the past were based on oralism, an approach that emphasizes oral language by using lip reading, speech, and mimicking the mouth shapes and breathing patterns of speech instead of developing literacy in Sign language.

The Madonna University deaf education program will qualify students for teacher certification with an endorsement in teaching hearing impaired children. The distinctive feature of the program will be its foundation in a bilingual/bicultural approach based on fluency in ASL. At the master’s level, in-service teachers will also have the opportunity to earn deaf education endorsement and complete professional development.

The project is based on interdisciplinary cooperation between the College of Education and the Sign Language Studies Department. The project will be led by Dr. Jill Robinson, Program Director for Special Education, who will be assisted by a curriculum development team composed of Daniel McDougall, Chair of the Sign Language Studies Department,Sharon Meldrum and Debbie Mitre-Smith, both SLS faculty members, and Dr. Steve Schwartz, who teaches in the autism spectrum disorder program.Dr. Karen Obsniuk, Dean of the College of Education, will also be involved in the development and approval process for the new master’s level program.