International Center on Deafness and the Arts to Convene National Think Tank on the Changing World of Deaf Education

Sep 26, 2011, 14:52 ET from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Hosts Initial Meeting of Top Education, Health, Science, NGO and Government Leaders

CHICAGO, Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The population of deaf children in the United States has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, yet our education system has not kept pace with changing needs. To draw public and legislative attention and devise potential solutions to this pressing crisis, some of the top leaders involved in deaf education from around the country will meet at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology on September 29th to plan a larger, national think-tank to be held in early spring 2012. Convened by the International Center on Deafness and the Arts (ICODA) and led by its Founder and President, Dr. Patricia Scherer, the full-day session on Thursday will bring together a steering committee who will work to identify the challenges in deaf education today, acknowledge some of the vastly different educational methodologies in the area, and begin what is hoped will be a long-term collaboration to develop and advocate for models and funding to appropriately address the differing educational needs of over 37 million children in the United States who are deaf or hard of hearing.



Esteemed professionals participating in the think-tank include government representatives from the State of Illinois and the State of Virginia, as well as participants from other state governmental agencies, leaders of relevant NGOs, educators and administrators from the Illinois Public Schools and other public and private schools for the deaf, mental health professionals and medical doctors.

"The scale of the crisis in deaf education has steadily increased, with a disproportionate impact on minority children," said Dr. Scherer. "As the population has drastically changed without corresponding changes in teacher education and regional learning cooperatives have been disbanded, the fundamental question is `where and how are these children going to learn?'"

Changing Population
Twenty years ago, only six percent of children with hearing loss had an additional disability. Perhaps due to the prevalence of autism, the rising survival rate of premature births, and other factors, today between 40-55 percent of deaf children have at least one other learning challenge. In addition, the advent of the cochlear implant has divided the deaf population further. Many children now have access to sound, although a debate rages as to whether these children will identify with the hearing or the deaf community.

The result is that only a small portion of the deaf population of children has the same characteristics of the population twenty years ago. "Unfortunately," said Scherer, "most teachers are trained to support a child that almost doesn't exist anymore."

Differing Educational Approaches
Historically and in part because of the growing use of the cochlear implant, educators and doctors have held different and in many cases opposing views of the best teaching methodologies to address the varying population of deaf children, particularly those using the device. Some support an approach that might involve an array of teaching modalities, such as listening and spoken language, visual, sign language, or some combination thereof based upon an assessment of the needs of the child. Other assessment-based programs advocate for only a listening and spoken language approach to prepare and assimilate children into neighborhood schools and classrooms with hearing children. All school programs aim to have children leave with an appropriate education, and to prepare them to successfully enter mainstream society. However, more and more children using advanced assistive technology like the cochlear implant need different levels of support, in varying school environments.

Collaborating for a Common Cause
The upcoming think-tank session brings together a number of experienced educators from a variety of perspectives, including Christine Clark, MA.Ed., CED, Family Center Coordinator for the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, a school that uses the listening and spoken language method to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing to listen and talk without the need for sign language; and Dr. Stephen Weiner, Provost of Gallaudet University, the leading university in the world for deaf and hard of hearing students, which advocates use of an array of teaching modalities. Additional participants include Drs. Elaine Fletcher-Janzen and Lukasz Konopka, both professors at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Drs. Fletcher-Janzen and Konopka are using objective neuroimaging tools to develop unique diagnostic approaches to enhance the understanding of brain physiology and plasticity in hearing impaired children, with the goal of structuring educational and training programs that are based on the individual needs of each child.

Regardless of preferred methodology, Scherer's vision is to bring everyone together to address the issue upon which there seems to be wide-spread agreement: the critical imperative to provide each deaf or hard of hearing child with the education and services they need and deserve to reach their full potential.

The September 29th think-tank is closed to the public. Media who would like to attend should contact Lynne Baker at 312.379.1635 or

Established in 1974, the primary mission of the International Center on Deafness and the Arts through Education (ICODA) is to educate, enrich, and empower deaf, hard of hearing, hearing children and adults through the provision of quality artistic and educational experiences.  Based in Northbrook, Illinois, the Center includes among other services, drama and dance classes and workshops, an Annual Arts Festival, a semi-professional theater troupe, a Children's Museum on Deafness, educational webinars and a neuroscience diagnostic program for children with multiple challenges. A specialized hospital unit and group homes for children with hearing loss and emotional disorders are offered through the Center's sister organization, Mental Health and Deafness Resources. Through its work, ICODA demonstrates the relationship of arts and learning, encourages the development of individuals, amplifies public awareness of deaf culture, and creates an environment that strengthens bonds among diverse populations. For more information, visit

About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Founded in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) is the nation's leading nonprofit graduate school dedicated exclusively to the applications of psychology and related behavioral sciences. The school is an active member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, which has recognized TCSPP for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. The school's community service initiatives have resulted in four consecutive years of recognition on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, including the additional "With Distinction" honor in 2010 and 2011.  The school's Chicago Campus was one of 115 colleges and universities nationally to receive the 2010 Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, for its significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement. Campuses are located in Chicago; in Los Angeles, Westwood, and Irvine, California; and the newest campus in Washington, D.C. Doctoral psychology programs and masters psychology programs are offered on-ground and in an online-blended format.

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