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Project PRISM-Ed Hosts Deaf Education Leadership Academy

March 1, 2024

Project PRISM-Ed

On Friday, Feb 23, 2024, Project PRISM-Ed (Preparation and Retention of Social Justice and Equity-Minded Educators of Deaf Studies) hosted their first annual Deaf Education Leadership Academy. Over 120 people attended the Academy, which was held at the Northridge Center in the University Student Union. Dean Shari Tarver-Behring welcomed attendees that included both hearing and deaf CSUN community members, alumni, LAUSD faculty and staff, and parents.

ASL Hands waiving for the first cohort of 8 PRISM-Ed Scholars

The agenda for the day focused on leadership and advocacy in deaf education. The purpose was to further discussions pertaining to gaps in the equity of services as well as the representation of teachers in deaf education. The Director of State Special Schools and Services, Dr. Nancy Hlibok Amann, set the tone for the day by discussing the past, present, and future of deaf education in the state of California. Following that broad overview, Dr. Julie Rems-Smario and Ms. Sheri Farinha, State Co-Coordinators of the California Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program, offered a synopsis of the advocacy and legislation that has impacted deaf education in California thus far. Both presentations helped attendees have a better sense of what has been done in deaf education and what continues to be needed to bridge critical gaps in equity.

Dr. Nancy Hlibok-Amann

These gaps came even further to light during the afternoon sessions. Dr. Carla García-Fernández, a CSUN faculty member in the Department of Deaf Studies, moderated a panel of four BIPOC (black, indigenous, and other people of color) deaf individuals involved in the deaf education system. Rather that resorting to the typical panel methodology of simple questions and answers between the moderator, panel, and audience, this group flipped the script. The panel of four asked the audience to respond to questions including: What frustrates you about deaf education? How do we immerse ourselves to elevate deaf students’ language acquisition? What have you been doing consistently to contribute to our Black and Brown deaf community in deaf education? And What does equity in Deaf education look like? Put on the spot, the audience responded. These discussions led to lively conversation about the current situation related to deaf education, systemic inequities, and the role of advocacy and leadership.

Educator panel,Dr. Carla García-Fernández, Janaee Cobbs, Mingchen Yang, Brenzel Barbauld, Janette Duran

The first annual Deaf Education Leadership Academy was certainly a rousing success! The presentations were thoughtful and insightful, and the discussions demonstrated just how far the field has come and yet how far it continues to need to go. Attendees overwhelmingly asked for continued dialogue and work in this area. Clearly, Project PRISM is doing much needed work to elevate social and linguistic justice in deaf education.

Project PRISM Leadership Team: Dr. Flavia Fleischer, Deaf Studies; Dr. Rachel Friedman Narr, Special Education/Deaf Education; Christine Mitchell, Deaf Studies; Rachel Reilly, Deaf Studies.