Deaf people have long held the belief that American Sign Language (ASL) plays a significant role in the academic development of deaf children. Despite this, the education of deaf children has historically 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, San Diego to develop and field-test a teacher preparation program that combines best practices in bilingual education and deaf education. The training curriculum designed for this program incorporates cultural practices from the Deaf community into the training of teachers of deaf children, a paradigmatic shift from traditional deaf education pedagogy based on a deficit model to a socio-cultural view of deaf children and their schooling. This shift represents a significant new 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 provides background and rationale for the recent approval of ASL authorization on the Multiple Subjects teaching credential in California.
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