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7:12 Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Who’s Left Behind Now?

The Rigors of High-Stakes Testing for Deaf
and Hard of Hearing Professionals

The difficulties encountered by deaf and hard of hearing adults now because of certification and licensure examinations are particularly unfortunate in light of their increasing success at achieving professional status in numerous fields. Assessing Deaf Adults: Critical Issues in Testing and Evaluation, edited by Judith L. Mounty and David S. Martin, aims to prevent this terrible mistake from continuing to occur. The key question asked in this volume is: Are standardized tests developed for the general population reliable measures of the competence of deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

The trouble with licensing and certification examinations is that they generally are created on the unstated assumption that the test-taker has had unhampered access to spoken English throughout his or her life. Written English, a visual code that triggers associations with recorded speech patterns, is typically used as the medium by which the test designer tries to tease out the test-taker’s knowledge of facts and concepts important for a particular professional discipline. The testers’ attempt to address a social inequality—the achievement gap between the poor and affluent, as well as between persons with and without disabilities—is yielding the unintended consequence of increasing the gap between deaf and hard of hearing persons and their hearing peers. Test-makers need to be intelligent problem-solvers. “We need to work not simply harder, but smarter, in order to design tests that are both fair and relevant for everyone, including deaf and hard of hearing individuals,” notes Oscar P. Cohen in his foreword to this critical volume. “Assessing Deaf Adults is a contribution toward that goal.”

Read more in chapter 1 “Overview of the Challenge,” and save 20% when you order Assessing Deaf Adults online. In the “Comments or Special Instructions” box below your credit card information, type in “DEC0520%.” Or, order by mail.

Recently, the Review of Disability Studies, An International Journal published an exceptional evaluation of Many Ways to Be Deaf: International Variation in Deaf Communities, edited by Leila Monghan, Constanze Schmaling, Karen Nakamura, and Graham H. Turner: “Many Ways to Be Deaf is highly recommended for those with interests in anthropology, sociology, signed languages, deaf culture, language politics and/or comparative education.” The full review is available online. In Many Ways to Be Deaf, 24 international scholars write about signed languages used in countries all around the world, including Austria, Japan, Brazil, Vietnam, Sweden, Nigeria, Ireland, Nicaragua, and many more. Gain more insight about the differences in the Taiwanese culture by reading chapter 12 “The Chiying School of Taiwan: A Foreigner’s Perspective,” and order here.

Disability Studies Quarterly recognized Genetics, Disability, and Deafness, by stating: “[T]he book will be necessary reading for all interested in the genetics and heredity of deafness and the ethical and public policy issues associated with genetic screening and engineering, and useful also for those interested in the latter topics in the disability field generally.” Edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve, Genetics, Disability, and Deafness is a volume of essays on science, the humanities, and history which shows the many ways that disability, deafness, and the new genetics interact and its meaning for society. Read more about this intriguing topic in the first paper, “The Science of Human Nature and the Human Nature of Science,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand, and order Genetics, Disability, and Deafness.

The Gallaudet University Press Institute’s fifth international conference, Revolutions in Sign Language Studies: Linguistics, Literature, Literacy, will be held on March 22-24, 2006, at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. The conference will feature an assembly of international scholars renowned for their research on linguistics, sociolinguistics, literature, literacy and Deaf people, and all other aspects of the study of sign languages. Keynote presenters are Dan Slobin, Ben Bahan, and Marlon Kuntze. Haven’t registered yet? Go online to http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/gupiconference/index.html for more information. Exhibitors may also find more information on how to exhibit here.


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