LU expands Deaf Education and Deaf Studies through strategic partnership

Lamar University has expanded its Deaf Education and Deaf Studies to address a shortage in the number of teaching professionals entering the field of deaf education.

Through a partnership with Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Lamar University is now offering its Master of Science degree in Deaf Education at TSD in Austin. The first students in the program started this fall. 

With agreement from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, TSD became
Deaf School
LU students interact at TSD in Austin.
a Lamar University host site to provide classroom space, and Wi-Fi for LU’s deaf education degree candidates. All of the students in the Austin cohort live in Austin.

“The number one need is access to higher education programs,” said Heidi MacGlaughlin, an LU instructor of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education teaching at TSD. “There aren’t many programs in the U.S. that specialize on the education of Deaf and hard of hearing children. Our program specifically teaches candidates on the best practices in educating the Deaf and hard of hearing through sign language.”

Offering the program on the TSD campus permits potential students who are unable to attend the program on the LU campus, due to family constraints, jobs or other barriers to travel or move, to earn their master’s degree and obtain teacher certification.

Dr. Diane Clark, chair of LU’s Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, worked for several years to meet the requirements for the satellite program in Austin as well as the accreditation needed to secure a program that teaches both American Sign Language and English.

“Helping create more teachers in Deaf education who are highly qualified and understand an ASL/English bilingual philosophy is vital to improving outcomes for deaf children,” said Clark. “There are only 12 programs in the U.S. that teach this bilingual philosophy. DSDE at LU is committed to this bilingual philosophy, and current research strongly suggests that deaf students who are bilingual in ASL and English have stronger academic outcomes.”

Lamar University is the only institution of higher learning that offers both a masters and doctorate program in Deaf Education and Deaf Studies in the state of Texas and one of the few in the country. Expanding the program to a satellite location in Austin broadens the reach and makes the program more accessible.

“Some states do not have a deaf education degree offered anywhere in the state, while others provide what is labeled a ‘comprehensive degree,’ which means that they teach all educational philosophies,” said Clark. “The need, especially in the southeast for more capacity, is critical.

Dr. MacGlauglin, who has traveled all over the state as a field experience supervisor for DSDE observing student teachers and reviewing both ASL and Deaf education curriculum, worked at TSD as a curriculum specialist before working for LU and is excited about the program launch and its future.

“As of right now, we have six students and it’s been going really great,” said MacGlaughlin. “It’s a great cohort. We’ve just started small but are hoping it’s going to grow and get more applications for next year.”

Of the six students enrolled in the first class of the LU/TSD partnership, one student is a school counselor who wants to become a teacher; three students are teaching assistants who want to be teachers; and two are teachers who want their master’s degrees.

“It’s a great group, and we’re excited to go all the way to graduation,” said MacGlaughlin.