Dr. Harold Johnson, Emeritus Professor/Kent State University, and creator/founder of DeafEd.net saw a need: “The primary problem of deafness is not a lack of hearing, but an abundance of isolation from peers, high expectations and effective learning opportunities. The chronic and increasing shortage of highly qualified teachers of students who are D/HH increases student isolation. This isolation is experienced by students who are D/HH, their parents and the professionals that work with them.”
In response, Dr. Johnson secured a Federal grant (“Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology”) to explore how emerging Internet technologies could be used to reduce that isolation, increase, collaboration and recognize excellence. The grant was used to design what became deafed.net and to establish a collaborative framework among deaf education teacher preparation programs for professional faculty.
- Johnson, H., & Dilka, K (1999). Instructional Effectiveness through Collaboration and Technological Innovations for the Field of Deaf Education. U.S. Department of Education ($167,000). Awarded
The need to use Internet technologies was recognized by deaf education teacher preparation programs. This is in contrast the modality/methodology controversies between the programs. The grant was a success because we focused on the collaborative sharing of both what we knew and yet wanted to learn in the field knew. Deafed.net went online in January of 2000.
- Johnson, H., & Dilka, K. (2000). Crossing the ‘Realities Divide’: Preservice Teachers as ‘Change Agents’ For the Field of Deaf Education. U.S. Dept. of Education ($2,094,000). Awarded
This grant used the Internet facilitated collaborative network of deaf education faculty and experienced teachers of students who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) to form teams to enhance deaf education of preservice teaches of students who were D/HH. DeafEd.net was used as the central, organizing element of this work for the field of Deaf Education. Topical teams were developed and funded to gather research, needed information and successful strategies.
- Johnson, H., & Slemenda, Katharine (2003). Join Together: A Nationwide On-Line Community of Practice and Professional Development School Dedicated to Instructional Effectiveness and Academic Excellence within Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education. U.S. Dept. of Education ($1,570,000). Awarded
Another important feature of the site was to provide a mechanism for schools/programs to post open positions for deaf education professionals and for those looking for such positions to post resumes, matching needs with qualified candidates.
All funding for deafed.net was exhausted by the January of 2007. Dr. Johnson used carry over funds to pay for critical programming fixes and staff to support the site, but a new strategy to sustain the site was evident and by January of 2008, when carry over funds were depleted. Looking for a partner who had a vested interest in deaf education, Dr. Johnson approached Hands & Voices about taking it over by instituting a reasonable charge for job posting, as up until this time, all job posts had been free. With a significant cost to transfer the site to Hands & Voices, Dr. Johnson approached a colleague, Dr. Kate Reynolds of the University of New Orleans Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Professional Faculty who acquired the funds and the transfer to Hands & Voices was complete. Dr. Reynolds provided the funds in support of a LA state grant to enhance educational resources for teachers of students who are D/HH. The site continued to provide a mechanism for those with open positions in deaf education and those looking for a position could connect.
In 2006, information regarding the abuse and neglect of children with disabilities was added to the site. In 2009, the Observe, Understand & Respond (O.U.R.) Project was developed to increase and support parents and professionals:
- recognition of the frequency and impact of child abuse and neglect upon student’s physical and emotional health, behavior and academic performance
- ability to recognize and report children suspected of experiencing abuse and/or neglect
- design and implement programs to prevent and effectively respond to child abuse and neglect
The Project has focused on children with disabilities, with a particular focus on children who are D/HH. To date, the Project has produced hundreds of hours of parent/professional resources and numerous face-to-face and online learning opportunities. This work was instrumental in the Council of Exceptional Children establishment of the first Policy on the Prevention of and Response to Maltreatment. This policy is supported by parent and professional organizations throughout the United States.
In February 2019, Hands & Voices and Dr. Johnson met to discuss the future of DeafEd.net and the team decided the site desperately needed an investment in updating the function of job and resume posting and refresh and renew the site. A developer Buink Web Development was secured and work began.
August of 2020, the newly revamped site was released to the public. The O.U.R. Project information is being transferred to the Hands & Voices website here: https://www.handsandvoices.org/resources/OUR/index.htm.