History of the Department
Lamar University's Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education is the third largest program in the U.S. that produces deaf teachers and educational leaders. LU has become a training ground for professionals who are deaf and has filled a critical need in our field to diversify the early childhood, K-12 and post-secondary workforce with deaf and diverse teachers and professors since the 1970’s. Our graduates, both deaf and hearing, work in program in Texas, other states, as well as in Puerto Rico, China, South America and Saudi Arabia to provide educational programs for deaf and hard of hearing children, youth and adults.
The program began in 1975 when Dr. Olen "Pete" Peterson, an audiologist, and Dr. Robert "Bob" Moulton, a speech-language pathologist and deaf educator initiated a Bachelor of Science degree program in communication disorders, and three Master of Science degrees: speech-language pathology, audiology and deaf education. In 1978, courses in American Sign Language (ASL) replaced manual communication and manual codes of English and the department required its students to develop proficiency in the language of the Deaf community (ASL) and be knowledgeable about Deaf culture.
With ASL, Deaf culture and the deaf education curriculum, the Deaf Education masters degree continued to grow within the Communication Disorder program with both federal grants and Lamar University support. Between 1988 and the present, the deaf education faculty obtained more than 11 million dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation which both supported its students, and set up research and training programs. The Speech and Hearing Center where it was housed was remodeled and expanded and more faculty were hired. In 1994, along with two additional tenure-tracked new faculty, a doctoral program, the Ed.D. was added.
Since 1988, the Master of Science program in deaf studies and deaf education has prepared more than 150 teachers of deaf children, with more than 60% being deaf teachers. In addition, the doctoral program has prepared 44 leaders, of whom 60% are deaf. These graduates work and have assumed leadership positions in universities and community colleges within Texas, the US and internationally as well. The research developed by faculty and students in the Lamar University's Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education has contributed to the knowledge base in this field in areas as reading, language, forensics, ASL studies, ASL assessment, bilingual education, technology, and culture studies (Hispanic, Native American, African-American).
In 1995, based on the work of Dr. Stephen Nover and his colleagues, the Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education adopted the ASL/English bilingual/bicultural philosophy and aimed to prepare pre-service teachers and leaders who work in preschool, K-12 and post-secondary programs serving deaf and hard of hearing children. The ASL/English bilingual curriculum permeates all three programs: the BA in ASL studies, and the M.S. and Ed.D in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.
Due to the rapid growth in student enrollment and the vision of Dr. Russ Schultz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the Communication Disorder program was divided into two new departments in 2006, the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. While both programs are separate, they continued to collaborate on research topics during research colloquiums and summer camps in order to share training and research ideas.
In 2006, a new bachelor’s degree was added in ASL Studies. This undergraduate program enrolls about 120 students and prepares teachers of ASL as a second language in the public school and sign language interpreters. Lamar is the only program in Texas that prepares ASL teachers who teach ASL as a second language to hearing students.
Currently, the Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education is growing and taking on new challenges. Online courses are being developed for distance learners. The department is anticipating a move to the Communications Building to provide more space for classrooms, offices, and research labs. The department is submitting a proposal to change the Ed.D. to a Ph.D. Opportunities are being provided for graduate students to work in research laboratories and take on research internships. Our new faculty has invigorated our curriculum bringing their teaching and research expertise from New Mexico State University, Ohio State University and Gallaudet University to benefit our students with state-of-the-art teaching and research. Companion disciplines such as Lamar's Educational Leadership (Ed.D), Audiology (Au.D.) and Speech-Language Pathology (Ph.D. forthcoming) have also provided the Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education with next-door-neighbor faculty expertise, clinical summer camps, research opportunities colloquium (ROC) and research laboratory experiences that are open to our students to enlarge their scholarly experiences while at LU. Please explore this website to read about our faculty, students and ongoing dissertation research.