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Iona Wins $1.25 Million Grant to Train Deaf-Education Specialists

Congratulations to BCW Member Iona College on being awarded a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train deaf-education specialists for the next five years. The grant is part of the federal government’s effort to improve the clinical preparation of speech-language pathologists and special education professionals to meet the needs of deaf/hard of hearing children up to five years old.

Iona College will create an Interdisciplinary Advanced Certificate in Deafness to equip graduate students with the needed skills. Currently the college has no programs that focus on deafness and the new certificate program is unique in the New York City metro area.

“When a family finds out that they have a deaf child, they will either be sent a special education professional or a speech/language pathologist. That individual may not have any experience with very young children,” said Dr. Amanda Howerton-Fox, who with Dr. Michelle Vevyoda designed the certificate program and applied for the grant.

The federal grant will pay for 40 Iona College graduate students over the next five years starting July 2022. Each year, four graduate students from the Communications Sciences and Disorders track and four graduate students from the Education track will enroll in the certificate program, which lasts two summers and an academic year.

One reason there is a scarcity of deaf-education specialists is because deafness is considered a low-incidence disability. “This certificate program is a good example of something that really needs government support because there are so few children with deafness. In a public school, there might be just one or two deaf kids,” said Vevyoda.

Howerton-Fox stressed the importance of intervention at the earliest ages for deaf children. “It’s the only disability that can cut you off from language completely and the people around you won’t know the effects of that until you are older,” said Howerton-Fox. “So, it’s important to have specialists who understand the effects of language deprivation.”

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