In analyzing Florida’s data from previous years, RMTC-D/HH continues to see an increase in the number of students identified as deaf/hard of hearing, and little to no increase in the number of teachers of the deaf serving them. This data is reflective of what is described as a national crisis in a letter from the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED). During biannual D/HH program focus groups and resulting reports, staffing is consistently one of the first issues brought up by focus group participants, reiterating in Florida what is being reported at the national level. District representatives (2019) indicate that the staffing issues have “reached a level such that many are concerned about their district’s ability to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).”
Careers in Florida
According to the essential principles in Optimizing Outcomes for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, “Qualified providers are critical to a child’s success.”
Per IDEA, Florida has established and maintains qualifications for Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (ToDHH).
ToDHHs and other personnel working with students who are D/HH may benefit from the acquisition of additional certifications or skills not required by the Florida certification in order to meet the individual needs of the students in the program, (e.g., listening and spoken language strategies, American Sign Language (ASL)/English bilingual strategies, or proficiency in ASL, basic troubleshooting and application of hearing and other assistive technologies, etc.). It is the responsibility of the district to ensure staff can address these additional skills and qualifications as appropriate or applicable to student populations needing these services in order to receive FAPE.
RMTC-D/HH collaboratively supports school districts recruiting personnel for deaf education programs by posting open positions on the RMTC-D/HH’s website and social media accounts as a free service. Districts with vacancies related to students who are D/HH can complete a short form to share information on RMTC-D/HH’s Post a Job web page.
Additional considerations for posting open positions are the following:
DeafEd.net (Fee per job posted.)
Social Media groups/pages for teachers of the deaf and/or hard of hearing
Contact deaf education teacher preparation programs in other states. A nationwide list of deaf education teacher preparation programs can be found on DeafEd.net.
Finding qualified providers for students who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) can be challenging. These providers are few and far between and can sometimes seem non-existent. Yet, they are integral to the success of students who are D/HH. NASDSE (2018, p. 3) states, “Without qualified staff and appropriate support services, the ability of children [who are D/HH] to achieve appropriate outcomes is jeopardized.” In some instances, lack of qualified personnel may lead to cases where the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is disputed.
How do districts and schools find these highly-specialized professionals in the midst of a field experiencing a critical shortage?” Grow them!
The Florida Department of Education Certification website guides professionals in the acquisition of Florida teaching certifications.
The Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE) website provides information on where, when, and the cost of taking certification exams.
If you need support studying for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing certification exam, RMTC-D/HH has developed a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) response for study recommendations.
According to Rule 6A-4.0172, F.A.C. Specialization Requirements for Certification in the Area of Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Grades K-12) – Academic Class, there are two paths to earning certification. Prospective educators may enter the field by attending a college or university with a deaf education teacher preparation program.
The second path, as mentioned in Rule 6A-4.0172, F.A.C. requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, with thirty semester hours in exceptional student education.