CWU News

CWU receives continuing state funding to support Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Youth

For the 20th consecutive year, the State of Washington is providing funding to CWU to help the state’s estimated 500 deaf and 3,500 hard-of-hearing students succeed in K-12 classrooms.


The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has awarded CWU $158,750 for Washington Sensory Disabilities Services (WSDS) for the current academic year. WSDS together with the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth (CDHY), which coordinates the Washington State Outreach Team, ensures all deaf and hard of hearing students in Washington reach their full potential regardless of where they live or go to school.


“This [continuing] funding validates that we are doing a good job,” says Carol Carrothers, CDHY director of Outreach Services K12, who is based at CWU. “It also definitely shows the state needs this resource.”


The funding allows the outreach team to provide services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, along with offering support to school staff who serve these students, including some of the state’s roughly 250 educational sign language interpreters, who help kids in pre-school through high school.


“Educational interpreters are now being required to meet a state requirement on a national test,” Carrothers points out. “Our project involves mentoring those interpreters by helping them to build the skills needed for the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment. That’s a big one.”


Professional development is also made available to teachers who work specifically with deaf or hard-of-hearing students, including presentations in areas from reading for first graders involving finger spelling, to writing, and science. Broad-based training is also provided to general ed teachers who may have deaf students in their class for the first time.


“We call it ‘Deaf 101,’” Carrothers adds. “We help them understand where deaf kids should sit in their classroom—that’s an important piece—and how they learn to read and write. We also try let them know how difficult it is for a deaf student to watch a teacher while trying to take notes at the same time, or how difficult it is when many people are talking at the same time.”


The needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing students also differ somewhat, based on the level of hearing loss and whether sign language is used.


“Nowadays, lots of kids are getting cochlear implants, which give many kids some great access to auditory ability and access to instruction,” Carrothers says. “But, for some kids, it isn’t as helpful.”


Next May, about 73 deaf and hard-of-hearing students are expected to attend the 20th annual Deaf Family Camp at the Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center outside Ellensburg, which is another program funded through the state grant. During it, a number of CWU American Sign Language students serve as volunteers.


Participants in the most recent Deaf Family Camp


Another program partly funded by the grant is Deaf Fiesta for LatinX families, held in April in collaboration with Seattle Children’s Hospital. It allows 74 deaf and hard-of-hearing children to get the chance to experience much of the CWU campus.


“We use the outdoor challenge course and the [Central] student involved with it to take our kids through that activity,” Carrothers notes. “It’s great that the university makes that opportunity available.” 




Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,


Photo: Participants at the most recent Deaf Family Camp (courtesy WSDS)