SPRINGFIELD – Thanks to a $30,000 gift from a Springfield couple, the University of Illinois at Springfield will offer a concentration in American Sign Language beginning in the 2008 spring semester. Springfield attorney Joe Gibbs and his wife, Lynn, have provided the funding for first-year development and implementation of a concentration in American Sign Language to be offered by UIS' Teacher Education Program (TEP).
Under the direction of Allan Cook, associate professor of Teacher Education, the concentration, consisting of six courses, will be called American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, and Linguistics. "We'll begin the search for additional adjunct faculty this fall and work with community members to form an ASL Advisory Committee," Cook said.
He noted that with adequate progress the first year, the Gibbses have agreed to assist with funding for a second and possibly additional years.
Currently, Illinois has only about 400 educational interpreters to serve the needs of the nearly 1 million individuals in the state who use American Sign Language to communicate.
Larry Stonecipher, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at UIS, expressed gratitude to the Gibbs family for this important gift. "The concentration will provide UIS teacher candidates with an enhanced understanding of the challenges and cultures of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, enabling them to communicate more effectively with these populations. Our candidates will also have an advantage when it comes to finding teaching positions in elementary classrooms."
The Gibbses' daughter, Kelly, is a teacher at a school for the deaf in Colorado and is herself deaf. Joe and Lynn Gibbs decided to support interpreter training at UIS after touring the university's Office of Disability Services last year. "We are fortunate to have the facilities to provide programs such as American Sign Language," Joe Gibbs noted.
A former Illinois State Representative, Joe Gibbs was serving in the Legislature at the time that Sangamon State University (now UIS) was founded and was instrumental in the university's formation. Gibbs is currently the owner of Lincolnland Properties, Inc. of Springfield.
UIS' TEP Program provides coursework that leads to initial Illinois certification at the elementary or secondary level when combined with an appropriate academic major. For additional information, contact Cook by phone at 206-7007 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.