CHAMPAIGN — Read an audiogram or ocular report. Tinker with an uncooperative hearing aid. Translate a worksheet into Braille and then back to ink print again.
For teachers of the deaf, hard of hearing, blind or vision-impaired, it’s all in a day’s work. But how much training these teachers need before they join either field is now a subject of debate following an amendment proposed by the Illinois State Board of Education.
As the state seeks to address a teacher shortage that left nearly 3,000 positions unfilled at the end of the 2018 school year, plans for loosening licensure requirements have been pitched as possible solutions.
They range from a bill that would suspend taking a basic skills test prior to getting a license (currently awaiting a signature from Gov. J.B. Pritzker) to the amendment that would give already-licensed general education teachers an “endorsement” for deaf, hard-of-hearing or vision-impaired teaching after completing 18 hours of college coursework in four general areas. There’s also the option just to pass a multiple-choice content test specific to the student population such teachers aim to serve.
That’s a change from the current standard, which requires educators to both complete an approved program and pass the test. The current model helps ensure students won’t get left behind, teachers statewide argue.