A three-year $1.56 million PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology) grant from the U. S. Department of Education will be used to link the Converse College Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) Education Program with similar programs throughout the country via Web-based video conferencing equipment.
“This is a very important initiative because it will enable us to examine the most effective practices in D/HH education and incorporate them into our D/HH teacher preparation program,” said Katharine Stephens Slemenda, co-director of the grant, and associate professor of deaf education and chair of the education department at Converse College. D/HH programs at other institutions-including Kent State University, Illinois State University, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Spartanburg Hearing Impaired Program, and the Texas School for the Deaf-have also signed on as participants in the grant. The Association of College Educators-Deaf/Hard of Hearing (ACE-D/HH) will serve as the grant’s lead organization.
Through Web-based video conferencing, D/HH student teachers and faculty will be able to collect data and observe the actual practice of successful master teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. For example, D/HH students and faculty at Converse can link with a classroom in Utah to observe a particular instructional strategy or assessment for students who are D/HH, then discuss and document the effectiveness of the observed methods.
While the monies from the PT3 grant will be used primarily to conduct research and purchase Wed-based video conferencing equipment, the fundamental goal is to increase the academic performance of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “The problem of deafness is not too little hearing, but too much interpersonal and informational isolation,” said Dr. Harold Johnson, professor of D/HH education at Kent State University, and co-director of the PT3 grant. “This isolation has resulted in poor academic performance, inadequate teaching resources, and insufficient teacher preparation. The PT3 grant will go a long way in helping D/HH programs throughout the country to greatly improve the way they educate their students and prepare their teachers.”