California Educators for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Conference

Change Through Dialog: Working Together to Improve Education and Employment for Deaf Individuals, S. Cawthon, & E. Shadburne; March 23, 2018

Presentation Summary: This interactive presentation by the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) will provide an overview of educational and employment outcomes for deaf individuals across the nation. This session will offer an opportunity for educators and professionals working with deaf individuals to engage in a conversation about what is happening related to postsecondary success for deaf students in their community. Participants will engage in group discussions, exchange information among colleagues, and obtain resources and suggestions on how to put research findings to practice in their own contexts. NDC believes that change can only happen if everyone is involved. The input of diverse perspectives is essential to moving the needle in the direction of positive outcomes.

Recommended Resources: Deaf People and Educational Attainment in the United States: 2017, California State Report: Postsecondary Achievement of Deaf People, Research Summarized! Key Impact Areas



Stephanie Cawthon, PhD

Caucasian woman with brown shoulder length hair and white shirt

Dr. Stephanie Cawthon’s mission is to translate research into practices that helps millions of deaf Americans succeed after high school—at work, in training programs, or at a college or university. 

Her 28-year career in teaching and research has been dedicated to studying the different ways deaf people achieve educational success, how it leads to life satisfaction, and what schools, governments, and parents can do to help make sure #DeafSuccess happens. 

A national expert who presents regularly at international conferences, Dr. Cawthon’s research examines the multiple factors that affect how deaf people succeed after high school, investigates issues of equity and access in education, explores accommodations and accessible learning environments, and challenges systemic standards that may be holding some students back. Her research has been funded by nearly $25 million in federal and other grants. 

She literally wrote the book on the topic. Dr. Cawthon co-authored Shifting the Dialog, Shifting the Culture: Pathways to Successful Postsecondary Outcomes for Deaf Individuals with Associate Director Carrie Lou Garberoglio, Ph.D., a publication that a leading journal called “an important contribution to the field.” They also co-authored Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, Challenges and Considerations in 2017. 

Her first book, Accountability-Based Reforms: The Impact of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students, won the Exceptional Book of the Year Award in 2012 from Exceptionality Education International. 

Dr. Cawthon grew up hard of hearing herself, and her own transition to college was not seamless. Raised oral in mainstream schools, she attempted the accommodations strategies she used in high school, then quickly realized they were inadequate in a large university setting. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology from Stanford University, where her initial line of research in the language development in deaf children launched her career. Dr. Cawthon received her doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2002, where she became a systems thinker focused on educational access, equity, and attainment. 

Current Affiliations and Appointments 

  • Professor, Department of Educational Psychology | University of Texas at Austin
  • Board of Directors and Director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute | Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas at Austin 
  • Provost’s Teaching Fellow Emeritus | University of Texas at Austin 
  • Director of Research and Evaluation | Drama for Schools 
  • Associate Editor | Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
  • Book Review Editor | American Annals of the Deaf
  • Principal Reviewer | Journal of Educational Psychology
  • Editorial Board Member | Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability; American Annals of the Deaf; Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
  • Member | Advisory Board of School Psychology Forum; Student with Disabilities Assessment Advisory Task Force for the Council of Chief State School Officers; Technical Advisory Committee for the National Center on Educational Outcomes; Technical Advisory Committee for ELPA21 Assessment Consortium at UCLA; Advisory Committee of Assessment of English Language Learners for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Erika Shadburne

Photo of Erika Shadburne

Erika Shadburne is a teacher. She uses all her students have taught her in her 23 years as a teacher to apply data in the classroom and beyond. She earned her B.S. from The University of Texas at Austin and her M.A. from Gallaudet University. Her teaching foundation comes from California School for the Deaf in Fremont and Texas School for the Deaf. In 2002 she founded the Austin Community College ASL-ESOL developmental English program for deaf students, where she taught English for 16 years. On a national level, she has coordinated the implementation of the Gallaudet University Regional Center grant and the National Science Foundation RIT/NTID DeafTEC grant at Austin Community College. She also served as a lead for a national task force on developmental education in 2014. In all of these adventures and in her current role as developmental education specialist at NDC, her focus remains on the students.