Stephanie Cawthon and Carrie Lou Garberoglio are deaf. They have lived the experience—as students and professionals—of working with accommodations and breaking down barriers. Their passion for changing the paradigm of the educational experience in the U.S. for deaf individuals has inﬂuenced their work as researchers.
Cawthon is the director of a new center in the College of Education that has received a $20 million, ﬁve-year grant from the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). It is one of the largest grants awarded by the DOE to support technical assistance and professional development in education.
The center’s goal is to help change the climate, culture, and expectations for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
“We want to increase accessibility, concentrating on the grass roots, and understand why things are happening at a deeper level”
“We want people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have access to more robust services—services that serve the whole person, and that have been, and that have been proven effective. We want to increase accessibility, concentrating on the grassroots, and understand why things are happening at a deeper level,” says Cawthon, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and an Elizabeth Glenadine Gibb Teaching Fellow in Education.
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute, which will open in January, will be housed in the College’s Meadows Center’s infrastructure and nationally recognized expertise in translating research into practice.
“Dr. Cawthon will lead a strong collaborative national team of researchers and practitioners. The project is well-positioned to draw upon extensive experience, data-driven research, and scholarship in the field,” says College of Education Dean Manuel J. Justiz.
The center will support colleges and universities that work with organizations and public agencies across the nation to more effectively address postsecondary, vocational, technical, continuing, and adult educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
“Ultimately, we seek to change the culture surrounding postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals and create conditions for success in a way that recognizes and honors their experiences, perspectives, and abilities,” says Garberoglio, project Manager at the Meadows Center and a co-principal investigator on the team.
Currently, best practices for supporting educational outcomes after high school for deaf and hard of hearing individuals have not been studied rigorously or shared broadly, which means that uneven outcomes are common. The new center aims to change that.
The center’s researchers want to increase admittance to, persistence in and completion of college or post-secondary training without remedial coursework, as well as the institutional capacity to implement evidence-based practices and strategies. The team also wants to increase the body of knowledge on ways to use technology to promote access and provide accommodations.
Says Cawthon, “I’m proud that we’re bringing together teams of people from education, business, and community organizations, as well as families, in an innovative and useful effort. We want to improve the research and find better ways for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing to overcome challenges and be successful.”