Mount Saint Mary’s University has received a five-year, $1.25 million federal grant in support of its Education Specialist Program in Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), a master’s program conducted in partnership with the renowned John Tracy Center. The funding, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, will provide tuition support and curriculum enhancement for 55 graduate scholars — preparing them to effect positive outcomes for young children with hearing loss and their families.
A total of 45 scholars will earn a Master of Science in Deaf Education from Mount Saint Mary’s, along with a Preliminary California Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing credential. The Mount’s DHH program also offers a credential that authorizes graduates to teach English language learners and children with autism spectrum disorders. Another 10 scholars will earn a Doctor of Audiology from CSULA that prepares students to obtain state licensure and national certification as pediatric audiologists.
“By bringing our three institutions together, we are each able to leverage our strengths and effect change on an even larger scale than any of us could alone,” says Ann McElaney-Johnson, PhD, president of Mount Saint Mary’s University. “We are thankful to our partners and funders for helping to make this happen. We know this will help address a great need that exists across California.”
Indeed, hearing loss is the most common diagnosed condition for newborns and it can have dire consequences on childhood development. Research consistently shows that hearing loss leads to poor language and academic outcomes, especially in literacy and math.
California faces a shortage of qualified educators and audiologists who can provide vital early intervention. In addition, 60% of children with hearing loss statewide come from Latinx households. Mount Saint Mary’s is well positioned to prepare graduates who can offer culturally competent care to these families, as Latinx students make up nearly 60% of the University’s total student population. And for this newly funded partnership with CSULA, more than half of all participating scholars will come from underrepresented groups.
About Mount Saint Mary’s DHH program
Mount Saint Mary’s DHH program is one of only eight pre-service DHH graduate programs in the United States and one of only two in California. The DHH program prioritizes early childhood intervention through a listening and spoken language pathway and emphasizes how to work compassionately and constructively with the families of deaf or hard-of-hearing young children. Around 95% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents, most of whom have never encountered deafness in their own families.
Since 2006, Mount Saint Mary’s DHH program has graduated nearly 150 scholars to immediate professional placement, including many who have become researchers, authors, state coordinators, program directors and teacher-leaders within schools.
“We have graduates who have gone on to earn their doctoral degrees and some who have even created their own programs for children and families,” says Bridget Scott-Weich, EdD, director of the DHH graduate program. “Thanks to this new funding, we’re going to graduate more scholars who can have a positive impact on families in need and raise the standard of care in the field.”