Dr. Jonathan Henner, assistant professor in the Professions in Deafness (PID) program in the Department of Specialized Education Services (SES), has published a new book titled Discussing Bilingualism in Deaf Children: Essays in Honor of Robert Hoffmeister, available April 1, 2021.
Dr. Henner is an alumnus of Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, where he received his Ed.D. in Developmental Studies in 2016. He and a group of BU Wheelock alumni and their colleagues in the field of bilingualism and Deaf education teamed up to author this book of essays honoring the work of BU Wheelock associate professor emeritus Robert J. Hoffmeister. It covers topics including bilingual deaf education, teaching strategies for deaf students, signed language assessment, and Dr. Hoffmeister’s impact on the field.
Dr. Hoffmeister joined Boston University in the late 1970s. He was a pioneer in arguing against the long-held idea that learning and utilizing American Sign Language (ASL) would prevent deaf children from excelling in English.
“Bob was instrumental in the movement to bring ASL back into the classroom,” explains Dr. Henner, who co-edited the new book with Charlotte Ens and Lynn McQuarrie. “He continues to be a force for ASL even these days and deserves honor for the work he has done.”
In a recent interview for Wheelock magazine, Hoffmeister explained the need for an approach to Deaf Education that does not treat deafness as a condition in need of fixing. “This is where we run counter to the medical profession,” he told the magazine. But given some of the changes to the field, he said, “I’m hopeful for the future.”
Today, thanks in part to Hoffmeister’s efforts, BU’s Deaf Education program is one of the only programs in the country dedicated to theoretical and applied research in Deaf Education from a bilingual/bicultural perspective.
“When he joined the faculty at BU, Dr. Hoffmeister immediately transformed the Deaf Education program to adopt a bilingual approach,” explains Dr. Amy Lieberman, assistant professor and program co-director for BU Wheelock’s Deaf Studies program. “He put ASL at the center of the educational model for deaf children and has had a tremendous impact on the field.”
Learn more about Dr. Henner’s new book here.