WWU instructor earns highest ASL certification

Shauna Rae Ward, an instructor of American Sign Language
interpreting who joined William Woods University this semester, recently
achieved certification at the Professional level with the American Sign
Language Teacher Association (ASLTA).

“This is a huge accomplishment that can only be achieved
after many years of experience, several levels of certification and several
rigorous exams. We are very proud that she is a part of WWU,” said Dr. Barbara
Garrett, ASL program director.
According to
ASLTA, the teacher certified at the Professional level has demonstrated the
highest level of knowledge and skills in teaching ASL. These include knowledge
of curriculum development, evaluation, linguistics, and theoretical and
contemporary issues in the field of ASL teaching. Professional certification is
valid for eight years and may be renewed by meeting renewal requirements.
Ward, who is Deaf, has taught American Sign Language in
schools throughout Canada, as well as at Portland Community College and
Portland State University in Portland, Ore. She was an ASL instructor in
Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Wash., for eight years. For two years,
she coordinated an ASL immersion program, where students spent an entire week
learning and practicing ASL from morning to night.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sign communication
from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and received her Master of
Education degree in adult education from the University of Phoenix in 2007.
She decided to work through the levels of certification
because of the growing need for certified interpreters.
“I started to notice that ASLTA certification was recommended
for many ASL teaching jobs, and required for some. In the future, I believe certification
will be required to teach,” said Ward.
Dr. Barbara Garrett explained, “While we are seeing more teachers of American Sign
Language earning ASLTA certification, there are many instructors who are
not certified at the entry level.  The fact that Professor Ward has
pursued it all the way to the highest certification possible is quite an
achievement.  My understanding is that the list of people nationwide who
have earned the level of Professional Certification is rather short.”
Throughout the course of her career, Ward has taught
everything from American Sign Language, to Deaf culture classes, interpreting and
ethics. At WWU, she teaches Deaf People in Society, ASL I classes and an ASL IV
“I enjoy motivating students to be interpreters because we
have such a need for good interpreters,” explained Ward.
Jenny Kesel, a senior English major and ASL minor, is one
such inspired student.
“Professor Ward has a great sense of humor and is always
coming up with great ways to involve and engage the class,” she said.
Ward can’t imagine doing anything else: “I’m a teacher. It’s
just who I am.”
CUTLINE: Shauna Rae Ward