Utah State University announces bilingual-bicultural program closure

Feb 8, 2022, 7:30 AM | Updated: 1:08 pm

(FILE: Utah State University)...

(FILE: Utah State University)

(FILE: Utah State University)

SALT LAKE CITY — There could soon be fewer teachers available to teach Utah’s deaf students American Sign Language. Utah State University is closing the bilingual-bicultural track for its master’s program in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education.

Program closure

A statement from the University’s Dean of Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services says there was a lapse in accreditation status, which sparked a review. That review showed the program track was “not operationally sound.”

Dean Al Smith says the master’s track didn’t meet the expectations of what it calls “high-quality education.”

Michelle Tanner, associate superintendent of the Deaf at Utah’s Schools for Deaf and Blind, said she hasn’t seen anything that would indicate that teachers aren’t up to par.

“They are the strongest, the graduates that I get from Utah State, and so it’s just very inaccurate to say that they’re not high-quality graduates because I’ve hired them and I know they are,” Tanner said.

The Education and Human Services Dean said they will keep the university’s undergraduate ASL curriculum in place, and the department will work on strengthening it. But Tanner said they need teachers with a master’s degree to do the kind of critical work needed to teach Utah’s deaf students.

Not just Utah is impacted by program closure

And it’s not just Utah that will see an impact from the program closing. Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind also recruits from Utah State.

“I have had one position vacancy open all year. It’s been open since last spring for teacher of the deaf in the reading department, which is one of the most critical areas that our students need instruction in,” said Janna Hasko, the principal of the deaf/hard of hearing program at Idaho’s School.

She says Idaho State has a teacher of the deaf preparation program similar to USU’s that it’s been revamping for the last couple years, so there aren’t many opportunities to recruit teachers from there.

Holly Hanson George is the parent of a deaf senior at Kenneth Burdett School of the Deaf in Ogden. She says without USU’s program, some students won’t get the education that they need.

“And the only thing that gives me comfort, is the fact that my son is graduating in May. But on the same hand, I’m deeply saddened for all his classmates who are younger than him. Because what does their future look like? They don’t have the same opportunity for great teachers that my son has had.”

She says even with hearing aids, her son can’t understand what people are saying. But he speaks ASL, so George says he can thrive in his school environment.

She says not all kids have residual hearing, and so they need teachers who can teach ASL.

“They’re forcing these kids to learn in a one size fits all method, which is not practical. Not every deaf child can hear, even with devices, and so they need the opportunity to learn visually with ASL.” 

Will the program ever resume?

It’s unclear if the university will ever resume the program. Students currently working to get their master’s degree will still be able to finish by spring 2023.

In a prepared statement from a university spokesperson on the program closure, she said they’ve attempted to address the issues without success, and the program is suspended without intention to resume in its current form.

Tanner says she’s been working with Utah Valley University. And she’s hopeful they will create deaf education program because they have a strong deaf studies program. But she says that decision is ultimately in the hands of UVU.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Education + Schools

A small group gathered outside the committee room to protest agains HB261 prior to Senate members o...

Josuee Sanchez

Complaint hotline for DEI law already receiving false complaints

The DEI law hotline has received 27 false complaints in the last week, but that's far less than a hotline associated with a bathroom bill received.

4 hours ago

The Utah Women & Leadership Project, based out of Utah State University in Logan, Utah, reports tha...

Simone Seikaly

Report finds fewer Utah workers experiencing sexual harassment

For the first time in years, the number of sexual harassment reports filed with the EEOC places Utah in line with the national average.

5 hours ago

A FingerPrint Pad and paperwork from Clean Slate Utah is laid out at Utah Support Advocates for Rec...

Eric Cabrera

Expungement clinic held today in Salt Lake City in honor of Juneteenth

Clean Slate Utah and the NAACP Utah is holding a free Juneteenth expungement clinic today.

8 hours ago

File photo of a Utah elementary school. The School Safety Security Task Force met Monday, June 17, ...

Briana Chavez

School Safety Security Task Force discuss new requirements for schools as part of new bill

One of the biggest requirements includes a school safety needs assessment. Each school in the state must fill one out.

1 day ago

Image of the newest version of the Salt Lake Main Library....

Kennedy Camarena

LISTEN: The end of libraries?

These days, just about everything is electronic, including books. This begs us to ask the question, could we be seeing the end of school libraries?

2 days ago

Tony Hawk is set to make an appearance at the Tony Hawk's Vert Alert skating competition....

Josuee Sanchez

Tony Hawk event sparking a desire to skate

Tony Hawk is visiting Utah for the Tony Hawk's Vert Alert skating competition, and it' sparking a desire for people to learn to skate.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Utah State University announces bilingual-bicultural program closure