SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 20

ASL: Access, Benefits, and Quality Rosen Currently, deaf education appears to be declining with its future in question. Dolman (2010) studied student enrollment in teacher preparation programs in deaf education from 1973 to 2009. The number of programs increased from 65 in 1973 to a high of 81 in 1985, which has subsequently declined to 65 as of 2009. There were also decreasing number of teacher graduates; in 2009 there were about half of the number of graduates, 737, as compared to 1973 when 1,365 teachers graduated. Challenges to the deaf education programs came in the form of increased integration of deaf children in public schools, which brought different sets of requirements and expectations, and created connections with certain professions. For instance, there were increases in programs for interpreters (Dolman, 2010). Lenihan (2010) reported that several school districts have hired speech language pathologists to teach deaf children when they cannot find deaf- education-trained teachers. Whether all of the above-mentioned programs are competing for the same students has not been ascertained in Dolman’s (2010) and Lenihan's (2010) studies. Teacher of the deaf training programs that are ambiguous regarding ASL are especially problematic. For instance, Lenihan (2010) found that of about 65 deaf education teacher preparatory programs in 2009, 11 programs focused on listening and spoken languages, and 54 programs focused on visual communication strategies for teaching and learning academic subjects. Most teacher preparatory programs provide visual communication strategies for teachers to use in classrooms. However, whether these techniques promote higher literacy skills of ASL-using deaf children remains to be seen. Johnson (2004) in his review of past studies pointed to the tie between deaf student achievement and instructional effectiveness of teachers. This researcher noted that deaf children typically demonstrated sub-par literacy skills, which calls for attention to teacher training. Moreover, confusion within the schools and teacher preparatory programs about language and literacy issues is not a good trait for any profession. Sign language education needs to be put in the forefront in deaf education programs and at schools for the deaf nationwide. This will pave deaf students’ way for effective learning. This would also help re-affirm the dissemination of ASL, as well as the continued maintenance of ASL as a standardized sign language, throughout the country. Teaching ASL as L2/Ln With the increased growth of classes in ASL in high schools, colleges, and universities, questions have been raised about what the ideal characteristics of an ASL teacher are, in particular, the knowledge, qualifications, and preparation of teachers of ASL as an L2/Ln language. Rosen (2008) conducted studies of L2 ASL public high school teachers and their preparation and qualifications. He found that teachers generally lack knowledge of L2/Ln research studies. He also found an insufficient number of certified and skilled teachers of L2 ASL. Regarding their degrees and certifications, nationally, a little more than a third of them earned a bachelor’s degree as their highest degree, and half of them earned a master’s degree as their highest degree. About a tenth of the teachers d