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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: San Diego, San Diego Adult Education Regional Consortia

Specialized Instruction for Deaf Students

The Challenge

San Diego Continuing Education serves approximately 60 Deaf and hard of hearing students annually. Most students have been mainstreamed into classes with interpreters. For many classes—such as vocational training—this is an effective accommodation and usually promotes successful outcomes. However, it has proved very challenging for Deaf students who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary mode of communication to reach proficiency in English literacy and basic education skills. The differences between the English language and American Sign Language and the complexity of depending on a third party (ASL interpreter) for communication were stumbling blocks in reaching the hoped-for outcomes.

The Solution

The instructor (also Deaf and a native user of ASL) utilizes direct instruction in the students' native ASL to teach English literacy and basic skills. Currently nineteen Deaf students are enrolled in the class, which meets nine hours per week. Students acquire reading, writing, and grammar skills in English while engaged in communication with the instructor and other students in their native ASL. The lack of communication barriers decreases the time and effort involved for a Deaf student with an interpreter in a typical class consisting of hearing students and a hearing teacher. An added benefit is the savings to the district of the resources dedicated to providing interpreting services.


This class has been running for one year. Two of the current nineteen students are preparing to transition to college, while other students continue to work on basic skills. Several students have reported that the information provided and class interactions have better prepared them for employment and communication with employers.

The Data

Two of the 19 enrolled students are preparing to transition to college. Two other students are also working with the WorkAbility III program with the goal of employment.

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