The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College Bunce School of Education will begin offering a new Minor in Sensory Impairment Education in the 2018-2019 school year. The degree program has been developed through incentive grant funds from the Ohio Deans Compact to prepare future teachers to meet the needs of all students in an inclusive classroom. This initiative includes educating future teachers to provide for students with sensory impairments in hearing, vision or both in their classrooms. Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Heather Duda said making this opportunity available to students and community educators is important.
“Rio is committed to ensuring that our education graduates are prepared to enter the 21st-century classroom,” Duda said. “The new sensory impairment education minor will provide our students with the skills they need to effectively work with a diverse population of learners.”
The introduction of Rio’s sensory impairment education minor is part of a statewide initiative to increase the access to educational instruction and supports across Ohio. As part of this effort, the Ohio Deans Compact, which has a long history of promoting shared understanding and collective action to improve learning for all children across the state, created the initiative to build educational support systems for students with low incidence sensory disabilities (LISD).
Director of Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children Dr. Kim Monachino said she believes the initiative will help educators prepare to address multiple learning needs in the classroom.
“The work of the Filling a Need Grant team is critical to the state’s capacity to prepare educators to meet the instructional needs of students with LISD,” Monachino said. “Through the efforts of Rio’s Associate Professor of Education Doug Sturgeon and those of the other partner institutions in the Compact’s LISD Collaborative, Ohio is finding innovative ways to prepare all educators to work together to address the diverse learning needs of our students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, and combined hearing-vision loss.”
Students in the school of education have already started declaring the minor as part of their degree paths and are excited to see the new program available at Rio. James Yongue, a sophomore Dual Licensure Intervention Specialist/Early Childhood Education major said he chose to declare the new program as his minor to help him better be prepared to meet the needs of his future students.
“As a student in the intervention specialist degree program, I see how much of a need there is for the sensory impairment minor. As future educators, we have a responsibility to provide our all of our future students with a quality education. Sensory impairments are becoming more prevalent in classrooms, and I think having this program is a great opportunity for education students,” Yongue said. “I’ve grown up in the Vinton-Rio Grande area, and noticed a lot of my teachers were Rio graduates. When I looked into the teaching program here, I was excited to have the opportunity to get my degree close to home. I feel that this new minor will enhance my ability to be a better educator and to provide for the needs of all my future students.”
While the program focuses on curriculum geared toward degrees in education, students from any discipline may add the degree minor. The minor involves two courses each focused on visual impairment and hearing impairment needs and supports as well as one course dedicated to dual sensory impairment. The first two courses will be offered during the Spring 2019 semester as evening courses to allow working professionals to enroll in the coursework. Duda said it is important to make this educational opportunity available for educators as well as members of the community.
“The sensory impairment minor is not just for education majors. The course content provided through the minor’s curriculum will benefit all those who are preparing to enter a profession which requires a high level of interpersonal communication skills.” Duda said.
Anyone interested in more information about the new Minor in Sensory Impairment Education can contact the Bunce School of Education at (740) 245-7328.