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2018-2019 Catalog
Exceptional education students practice American Sign Language

Department of Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education

Bachelor of Arts in Education

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The undergraduate program in exceptional student education prepares teachers with competencies necessary to produce achievement gains and desirable behavior changes in students with disabilities. Successful completion of the courses of study prepares the student for the certification exams in (ESE) exceptional student education. Students graduating in ESE are required to be certified in another content area such as PreK/Primary, Elementary Education K-6, Middle Grade, or the Secondary Education disciplines in order to be consider highly qualified.

 Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreting Education also offers a concentration in Deaf Education. Deaf Education is a  program in which students complete certification in deaf education. Teacher education candidates must pass all parts of the Florida Teacher Certification Exam as an internship and graduation requirement.  Please note:  Unlike Special Education, Deaf Education is NOT an ESOL degree program.

All courses have field assignments. Students are expected to be proficient in the use of the computer for word processing and Internet access.

The program is blocked sequentially with some courses being offered once a year only; therefore, students are requested and encouraged to enter in the fall term. Before beginning course work, students must consult an advisor in the Office of Academic Support and Information Services, Building. 57, Suite 1300.  (904) 620-3934.

The State of Florida mandates certification requirements for teachers. Students should see their advisor frequently to obtain appropriate advisement for current certification requirements. All students enrolled in College of Education and Human Services courses that require a field or clinical component are taught at a school site or require the student to complete work at a school mandated by state law to be fingerprinted and cleared prior to being permitted on elementary and secondary school campuses. Students should be aware that noncompliance with fingerprinting requirements will result in the inability to complete course requirements. Contact the Office of Academic Support and Information Services for information regarding fingerprinting procedures.

Bachelor of Science in ASL/English Interpreting

Students may also prepare for a B.S. degree in ASL/English Interpreting. Students seeking to complete the B.S. in ASL/English Interpreting must complete their first two years of interpreting at an accredited and approved ASL/English Interpreting program; usually culminating in an A.S. degree and then transferring to UNF for their final two years. 

The Department of Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education offers a minor in:

Program Mission and Philosophy

The mission of the ASL/English Interpreting Program is to prepare entry-level practitioners who are capable of managing the intercultural demands and complex cognitive tasks for conveying dynamically equivalent messages between American Sign Language and English. The program strives to provide an evidence-based curriculum that instills strong communication skills in English (written and spoken) and American Sign Language (receptive and expressive). The program is based on core values of ethical reasoning and decision-making, critical thinking, and Deaf community alliance. In addition, we aspire to graduate students who consistently demonstrate interpersonal skills that reflect unconditional positive regard for all participants in the interpreting process and professional dispositions that embrace diversity, respect, equity, and equality of opportunity among the diverse language and cultural groups of the community. Program faculty members are committed to conducting and incorporating research in interpreting and interpreter education, receiving ongoing training on best practices in distance learning, and infusing the standards outlined by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education.

 Master of Education in Special Education

The graduate program in special education prepares graduate students to assume positions as professional practitioners who work with exceptional individuals. The majority of these practitioners become teachers in self-contained classes or resource rooms, while others serve in positions such as consulting teacher, behavior analyst, parent-infant specialist, or sign language interpreter. Practitioners may serve individuals with special needs ranging from preschool through adulthood. Additionally, they may work with the families of individuals with special needs.

The graduate special education program offers five concentrations.

  •  The first concentration in exceptional student education is for students working toward initial state certification in special education.
  •  The second concentration is for students working toward initial certification in deaf education.
  •  The third option is a concentration in disability services designed for students interested in serving individuals with disabilities in general education classes or non-educational settings.
  •  The fourth concentration is for students interested in specialization in applied behavior analysis
  •  The fifth concentration is in ASL/English Interpreting.

Majors in special education consist of a minimum of 36 credits of graduate study. The inital certification Master's degree program requires additonal credit hours. An individually designed program of study for each student is developed by the student in collaboration with his or her faculty advisor.

For admission into the special education graduate program an applicant must

  •  obtain a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of a 3.0 in the last 60 semester hours of their undergraduate degree program;
  •  submit scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within the last five years;
  •  present three letters of recommendation (at least one from a current or former college professor);
  •  submit a written intent or goals statement (statements should between 500 - 1000 words) indicating the area of interest the applicant would like to pursue and how this course of study would help them in their own professional development.

Students not meeting minimum criteria for admission may be considered for admission under the UNF/College exceptions policy. Please check with the program director or the office of academic advising for procedures on admission by exceptions. The program makes special provisions for admitting students with disabilities.

Note: All applications, transcripts, test scores, and supporting documents must be sent directly to The Graduate School, University of North Florida, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224.

All students enrolled in College of Education and Human Services courses that require a field or clinical component and/or are taught at a school site are mandated by state law to be fingerprinted and cleared prior to being permitted on elementary and secondary school campuses. Students should be aware that noncompliance with fingerprinting requirements will result in the inability to complete course requirements. Contact the Office of Educational Field Experiences, (904) 620-3934, for information regarding fingerprinting procedures.

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Special Education Concentrations (Graduate Level)

Exceptional Student Education Concentration

The Exceptional Student Education concentration is designed for those students seeking initial certification as teachers of students with exceptionalities. The program of study is designed to offer graduate students the preparation needed for Florida state certification in exceptional student education, K-12.  

Disability Services Concentration

The disability services concentration in special education is available for professionals who serve individuals with disabilities in special and general education and in settings other than schools. This concentration allows individuals to pursue graduate study in special education and in various cognate areas in education but does not lead to teacher certification. The program of study consists of a minimum of 36 credit hours and is individually designed.

Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration

The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) concentration is designed to prepare individuals to assume positions as professional clinical practitioners who work with exceptional individuals and are interested in behavioral assessment and appropriate interventions and in preparing for the BCBA or BCABA examinations.

 ASL/English Interpreting Concentration

The ASL/English Interpreting concentration is designed for those students seeking advanced preparation as sign language interpreters. The University of North Florida's interpreting programs are committed to upholding the National Interpreter Educational Standards as formulated by the Conference of Interpreter Trainers. The new master's degree concentration is offered in a distance-friendly modality with online, three weekend-per-semester/online, and a five day summer session/online formats to accommodate students who do not live in northeast Florida. The program is developed in accord with current spoken and signed language research and target interpreters who aspire to become nationally certified.

Department of Exceptional Deaf & Interpreter Education Faculty


Karen Patterson,   Associate Professor and Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Thomas S. Serwatka, Professor
Len Roberson,  Associate Professor 
Gerard R. Giordano, Professor, and director of ESE program

Suzanne Ehrlich, Assistant Professor 
Clare Liddon,  Assistant Professor
Sherry L. Shaw, Professor and  Director of ASL/English Interpreting Program
Janice Seabrooks-Blackmore, Associate Professor and Chair
Susan Syverud, Associate Professor and Professor in Residence
Jennifer Kilpatrick, Assistant Professor

Caroline Guardino, , Associate Professor and Director: Deaf Education

Laura Jackson, Instructor
Deborah Reed, Instructor
Jonathan Antal, Instructor, ASL
Michael Stultz, Instructor, ASL
Dawn Wessling, Staff Interpreter and Instructor


Karen B. Patterson, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Len Roberson, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Thomas Serwatka, Ph.D., Professor 
Gerard R. Giordano, Ph.D., Professor 

Jennifer Kilpatrick, Ph.D Assistant Professor

Clare Liddon,  Ph.D, Assistant Professor 
Sherry L. Shaw, Ed.D.,  Professor and Director: ASL/Interpreting 
Janice Seabrooks-Blackmore, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Interim Chair
Susan S. Syverud, Ph.D., Associate Professor 
Caroline Guardino, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director: Deaf Education

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