Gallaudet University President Delivers Keynote Address at the 2011 American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association Conference

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Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz today delivered the keynote presentation at the opening session of the 2011 American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA) conference.

Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz today delivered the keynote presentation at the opening session of the 2011 American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA) conference. In keeping with the ADARA conference theme this year, “riding the wave of change,” Dr. Hurwitz spoke about the changing nature of the economy and how the university is working to better prepare deaf and hard of hearing students to compete in today’s job market.

Gallaudet University is the world’s only accredited liberal arts university for deaf and hard of hearing students that offers a bilingual learning environment in American Sign Language and English. ADARA hosts professionals in the fields of health care, vocational rehabilitation (VR), education, and social services who facilitate service delivery for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, and deaf-blind.

In his remarks, Hurwitz noted that the mutual goal of Gallaudet University and ADARA is to “advance and expand employment outcomes for people who are deaf.” He said that changes in the nation’s job market are influencing students’ decisions about where to go to college and what to study more than ever before. Hurwitz added that the increasing complexity, globalization, and transient nature of the job market are driving the university to redefine how it delivers its academic and administrative services to students, as well as identify new and emerging areas for career development.

As an example of one of the new areas for career development, Hurwitz noted the field of health care. “This expanding sector of the job market offers many choices for qualified individuals,” he said. “However, there is a critical shortage of health care specialists at all levels…and there is an even more critical shortage of such specialists who are deaf or hard of hearing.” A National Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has been formed to address that critical shortage, noted Hurwitz. Gallaudet University, along with other task force participates, is looking at ways to expand opportunities in the field for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, determine what new programs are needed to prepare students academically for the field, and identify national policies and private and public funding sources to help support these initiatives. Hurwitz stated that initial recommendations from the task force would be announced later this year.

Hurwitz concluded his remarks by indicating his appreciation for VR professionals who facilitate financial support and prepare students to attend Gallaudet. “Just over half of our students receive VR support [totaling] $9 million,” he said. “Many of our students would not be able to attend Gallaudet without that support. We are grateful that VR personnel have confidence in our ability to educate these students.”

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

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Catherine Murphy
catherine.murphy@gallaudet.edu
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