Student strives to improve deaf education

By Michael Peri

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A UA doctoral student believes that deaf education at the UA has plenty of room for improvement so he decided to do something about it.

Joseph Castronovo, a language, reading and culture doctoral student, is deaf and teaches American Sign Language at the University of Arizona. Castronovo is proposing two measures to deal with inadequacies in the system.

The first is the Deaf Student Council, a group he plans to start up in the fall. If it goes as planned, 20 deaf students who utilize interpreting services on campus will gather to address campus issues for deaf people. One such issue is facilities accessibility for deaf people on campus, such as the installation of keyboard-operated telephone services in different departments.

"Improving university-provided interpreting services is important," he said. "Also, we need to work within the Special Education (and Rehabilitation) Department so it can better meet the needs of deaf students."

Melanie Cody, who will be a member of the council, said she agreed that problems arise with deaf education falling under Special Education.

"The teachers in (Special Education) often don't understand deaf people and can be biased," she said. "Usually, they don't understand American Sign Language."

Another idea of Castronovo's which is still on the drawing board is a university lab school for both deaf students and children of deaf adults. His goal is for all students to learn sign language.

Teaching them American Sign Language "will also help them learn English," because once they learn their first language, "it's easier to move on to a second language," Castronovo said. This way, when graduates of the program have children, the will be able to teach them English "because so often deaf parents have hearing children."

Castronovo has presented the idea to the Language, Reading and Culture Curriculum Committee, and a response is scheduled for April 25.

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