Overview of the College
Pikes Peak Community College is a comprehensive
community college located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With an enrollment
of 7,000 students, it is the second-largest community college in the state.
The college offers courses and degrees at four major sites in the Colorado
Springs area, three local military bases, more than 100 out-of-state and
out-of-country military sites, and numerous international sites. Pikes
Peak emphasizes international education, multi-media instruction, and programs
supporting Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. As a hub of the Western
Region Outreach center & Consortia, it serves as the Southwest Regional
Resource Center for Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
The Pressing Issue
Pikes Peak Community College is an open-door
college – by philosophy as well as by legislative mandate. We strive to
be a student’s first, as well as last, chance at higher education. This
is a mixed blessing. It allows students to enter who might not be ready
for postsecondary education. This has been the case with numerous Deaf
and hard of hearing students during the college’s 30-year history.
Community colleges are the only entities
in Colorado authorized to deliver postsecondary developmental (remedial)
instruction. These classes were often the classes of choice for Deaf and
hard of hearing students who entered our college under-prepared for postsecondary-level
We noticed that Deaf students would enter
developmental classes such as ENG 030, be provided with excellent interpreters,
work very hard, get ample tutoring, and still fail. This failure happened
not once, but repeatedly, until it finally seemed that Deaf students were
choosing developmental studies as their major course of study! We had assumed
that 1 + 1 = 2: one motivated Deaf student plus one qualified interpreter
equaled successful access to education. We were faced with the fact that
this was not the case.
Pikes Peak Community College did not have
an appropriate instructional methodology for Deaf students who lacked basic
competence in English, mathematics, critical thinking, resource management,
and life skills. Further investigation revealed that other colleges, Vocational
Rehabilitation, and the Colorado School for the deaf and the Blind were
also experiencing the problem we were facing. Deaf students were graduating
from high school and leaving for Gallaudet or NTID, only to return in 6
to 12 months because they were under-prepared. Vocational rehabilitation
counselors were having difficulty placing and keeping Deaf individuals
in productive jobs because of their lack of basic skills.
Project Deaf Prep
The college and the Colorado School for the
Deaf and the Blind (CSDB) gathered a variety of agencies to form a partnership
that would address this problem. Those involved in this effort were: Pikes
Peak Community College, the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind,
Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Pikes Peak Center on
Deafness, and the Pikes Peak Mental Health Center.
A task force made up of members of each
of these organizations conducted planning meetings for approximately six
months. The task force determined the parameters for this project and designed
a rough outline for curriculum. They wanted the project to be:
A cooperative, multi-agency effort
In an adult environment, rather than high
Held in a Deaf-friendly agency.
They wanted the curriculum to be:
Flexible and individualized based on authentic
Applied to the Deaf student’s chose occupation
One which places behavioral as well as academic
demands on the student, and
Taught by Deaf instructors in American Sign
The curriculum for this program consists
American Sign Language Levels I-IV
Remedial English Levels I-IV
Remedial Mathematics Levels I-IV
At the end of the task force’s work, the
college held an open forum for the Deaf community to evaluate the progress.
Feedback from the community was positive and encouraging. As a result,
a four-semester program called Deaf Prep was adopted and advertised around
This curriculum, translated into college
courses, becomes 17 credit hours per semester. Students are allowed to
take a maximum of four semesters in Deaf Prep. During the second semester,
and in subsequent semesters, students also enroll in mainstreamed college
classes in areas of interest, or actually begin their intended courses
Students may exit at any time to pursue
additional education, to obtain employment, or to go to on-the-job training.
The program accepts (1) Deaf high school
students who are in their junior or senior year; (2) Deaf high school students
who have completed their credits for graduation but are not ready to terminate
their connection with their high school; and (3) adults who need remediation
in basic skills. Students receive thorough and comprehensive testing to
determine their appropriate placement in the curriculum, discuss career
options and expectations with an advisor, and prepare an individualized
Successes to Date
We anticipated an enrollment of eight to ten
students for our first class. The first year we had 17, then 24, and now
26.This enrollment, and the extent of the need, was greater than we expected.
Faculty support has been amazing. Deaf instructors from the community have
become involved and have been willing to participate in development of
curriculum and in instruction.
Service clubs in Colorado Springs have
stepped forward to provide scholarships and equipment for students in Deaf
The Colorado School for the Deaf and the
Blind renovated an old dorm into an apartment-like facility. Students who
live there are able to transition from either a dormitory life or an at-home
life into an independent lifestyle, while maintaining a safety net of support
from the school.
The faculty and staff of Deaf Prep will continue
to revise the curriculum. Every year, just as they feel they are on top
of the curriculum and are ready for the year, they receive a different
group of students with different needs. Consequently, curriculum development
has been a “work in progress.”
The college will be seeking an outside
evaluator who will look at all of the aspects of the program and assist
us in improving our infrastructure, our curriculum, our delivery of instruction,
and our funding priorities.
This program has already drawn students
from all areas of Colorado. The next step will be to reach outside the
borders of Colorado and recruit students from other states.
This program meets a felt need in our community
and, we believe, in the country. It has been overwhelmingly successful.
Students who would have entered college and had negative experiences are
now prepared to pursue their dreams.
Note: The mathematics curriculum developed
through Project Deaf Prep is now available at no cost from the PEPNet
Resource Center. It is item number 1040. Go to http://prc.csun.edu
or http://www.pepnet.org and click
on Resource Center, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 888-684-4695 (V/TTY).