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Cornerstone Connections

Part I: Educators in Southern/Southeastern Ohio Join Forces to Address Critical State Shortages

"Districts and families in our part of the state are desperate. There isn't a week that goes by that I don't get a panicked call from a district asking for help in finding an interpreter, a teacher, anyone who can support a child with a hearing or visual impairment," explained Dr. Doug Sturgeon, Associate Professor in Shawnee State University's Department of Teacher Education and Principal Investigator of the Broadening Horizons project.

The vast majority of students with sensory impairment are served in general education environment with some support. Educators understand that the effect of sensory impairment on language development, social interaction, mobility, and prospects for a fulfilling life indicate the need for some level of support, irrespective of the educational environment in which the child is served. However, in a July 2016 survey of district and ESC superintendents conducted by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), the majority of district and ESC respondents indicated that it is extremely difficult to find and employ teachers for the hearing and visually impaired.

Ohio's preparation pipeline delivers proportionately fewer qualified staff than pipelines in most other states. Researchers recommended that in order to reach the national average, Ohio would need to offer seven preparation programs—three more than currently exist in the state.

Led by faculty from Shawnee State University (SSU) and the University of Rio Grande (URG), a group of educators from Ohio's southern and southeastern regions have joined forces to identify viable options for meeting the needs of students with varying degrees of sensory impairment (i.e., students with visual impairment, hearing impairment, or a combination of hearing-vision impairment).

Read more about this work here.