USAO Receives $100K Grant for Speech-Language Pathology, Deaf Ed Programs

In an effort to increase the number of special educators and related services personnel in Oklahoma, the deaf education and speech-language pathology programs at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma have been awarded a $100,000 State Improvement Grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Special Education Services.

The grant, titled the South Oklahoma Services (SOS) Project, will be funded for 30 months and is designed to recruit students from the southern regions of Oklahoma into deaf education and speech-language pathology degree programs to combat a shortage of special education teachers in Oklahoma and nationwide. USAO is the only college in the southern half of Oklahoma to offer an undergraduate degree in either speech-language pathology or deaf education.

"I am thrilled to receive the grant," said Diane Holland, project director, director of the USAO Speech Pathology Clinic, and author of the grant. "It will allow us to heighten the awareness of career options in speech-language pathology and deaf education across the southern regions of the state."

Holland and Judy Brawner, a deaf education instructor at USAO, are partners in the grant and are charged with administering it. The grant allows USAO to increase marketing of programs through improvements to the USAO Web site, create new marketing efforts, and initiate relationships with high school counselors in target areas. It also allows the hiring of a part-time recruiter for speech-language pathology and deaf education programs.

"I am convinced that when people are made aware of the fine programs of training we have at USAO and the shortage of speech-language pathologists and deaf educators in Oklahoma and nationwide, that our enrollment numbers will increase significantly," said Holland. "This will have a positive impact on USAO, Oklahoma, and the quality of special education and related services in our state."

USAO's speech-language pathology and deaf education programs began in 1945 with a bachelor's degree in speech correction. In 1968, the degree program was changed to speech and hearing therapy. USAO began offering two separate degree tracks for speech-language pathology and deaf education in 1985. USAO is the only public institution in Oklahoma offering the bachelor¹s degree in deaf education. Following Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., USAO is the oldest deaf education program west of the Mississippi River. Presently, it is one of 75 such programs nationally.

Graduates of the deaf education program are eligible for certification by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Speech-language pathology graduates must attend graduate school and then are eligible for certification by the State Department of Education and the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association. Graduates of either program are in high demand to fill shortages in each field.

For more information on USAO's speech-language pathology or deaf education programs, contact Diane Holland at 574-1274 (dholland@usao.edu)

or Judy Brawner at 574-1273 (jbrawner@usao.edu)