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Deaf Education

The Breakdown

Deaf education, though sometimes underserved, is nonetheless an important and vital academic sector. For many hearing impaired students, receiving a deaf education is far preferable to a mainstream classroom. Indeed, a deaf school provides a comfortable and more accessible learning environment. As a deaf education major, you’ll learn how to interact with children who have a range of aural difficulties and help them flourish in a hearing world.

While the vast majority of universities only offer deaf education as a graduate degree, there are a handful of colleges that allow undergraduates to study it. Naturally, you’ll be required to take conventional education classes in topics such as classroom management, educational psychology and literacy. You will also be exposed to a wide variety of education theories and philosophies. And, similar to more traditional ed programs, deaf education majors also must complete a student teaching practicum. You’ll be presented with a class that likely has a variety of impairments.

However, unlike the standard education major, you will also receive comprehensive training in speech and language development and communication disorders. Further you will research the social and psychological implications of deafness and you will learn how to adapt a curriculum for the hearing impaired. Though prior knowledge of American Sign Language isn’t always mandatory, it will likely be compulsory for your degree. You should note that some of these requirements might extend the time it takes to complete the program.

Deaf education is an extremely gratifying academic and professional pursuit. Working within a community that sometimes marginalized, you will give these students the building blocks they need to succeed. Your own success will require organization, patience and strong communication and listening skills. Oh yeah, a love of children couldn’t hurt either.

Nuts and Bolts

The typical course-load for a deaf education major most likely contains classes such as: American Sign Language, Language Development for the Deaf, Human Development and Learning, Introduction to Communication Disorders, Basic Audiology, Perspectives in Linguistics, Educational Psychology, Teaching Science in the Elementary and Foundations of Writing and Other Language Arts.

Decisions, Decisions

Undergrads interested in pursuing deaf education also sometimes consider speech pathology, special education, communication disorders, audiology, developmental psychology and health and human development.

What's Next

We all recognize majoring in education can lead you directly into the classroom. And many ed majors sustain satisfying teaching careers over the course of their professional life. As you’re also no doubt aware, some translate classroom experience into administrative positions and become principals, vice principals, guidance counselors, etc. However, others find a passion for policy work and land jobs at non-profits, think tanks and various departments of education. Additionally, some majors take advantage of their extensive knowledge of child development and education and seek employment with companies that create products and entertainment for children. Still others combine their studies with a passion for other cultures and look for work involving international education, be it study abroad or development in third world countries.


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Don Munce