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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Schooling in American Sign Language: A paradigm shift from a deficit model to a bilingual model in deaf education

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Deaf people have long held the belief that American Sign Language (ASL) plays a significantrole in the academic development of deaf children. Despite this, the education of deaf children hashistorically been exclusive of ASL and constructed as an English-only, deficit-based pedagogy.Newer research, however, finds a strong correlation between ASL fluency and English literacy,supporting Deaf people’s belief. This article describes efforts at the University of California, SanDiego to develop and field-test a teacher preparation program that combines best practices inbilingual education and deaf education. The training curriculum designed for this programincorporates cultural practices from the Deaf community into the training of teachers of deafchildren, a paradigmatic shift from traditional deaf education pedagogy based on a deficit modelto a socio-cultural view of deaf children and their schooling. This shift represents a significantnew direction in addressing the chronic poor performance of schools in educating deaf and hardof-hearing children who as a group are severely undereducated. This article also providesbackground and rationale for the recent approval of ASL authorization on the Multiple Subjectsteaching credential in California.

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