For Karla, deaf education has been a way of life. Born hearing, Karla began losing her hearing as an infant and became profoundly deaf at a young age. Her parents chose to raise her with an emphasis on spoken language, using speech therapy, hearing aids, and FM systems while being educated in the mainstream setting. By middle school, Karla began learning sign language and used an interpreter through high school and college. In college, Karla discovered the Deaf community and ASL. After many years of teaching in a variety of total communication programs, Karla learned about Cued Speech and its benefits. She is now a certified instructor of Cued Speech and conducts regular workshops on both ASL and Cued Speech. Her passions include advocacy, knowledge, teacher development, early intervention, and literacy. Her philosophy revolves around the idea that there is no one deaf experience and educating a student who is Deaf, DeafBlind, or Hard of Hearing requires a committed team effort that includes the home, school, and community. Accessibility is a key factor in success and it is important for the student’s team to be able to support that process in a variety of ways.
Karla earned a BA in Deaf Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She later obtained her Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She also got her Early Intervention credential as a Developmental Therapist-Hearing (DTH) and as a Deaf Mentor within Illinois. She earned her doctorate in Special Education with a concentration on Deaf Education at Illinois State University.
Karla coordinated the DHH teacher certification program at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee until its closure. She teaches Deaf Education courses at Illinois State University and Flager College. In addition, she provides resources, advocacy, information, services, and supports to people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, their families, and those that serve them through the Chicago Hearing Society, a statewide non-profit in Illinois.
Throughout her career, Karla has worked with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people of all ages, from birth to age 21, across all educational settings, utilizing all communication approaches. It’s been a great learning experience, both personally and professionally! In addition, Karla has been an active participant in a variety of organizations and advisory councils and has attended numerous trainings, conferences, and workshops on topics related to deafness. In addition, Karla has given several presentations on various topics including ASL, Cued Speech, language acquisition, the educational impact of hearing levels, IEP advocacy, self-advocacy, and service dogs for the deaf.