Dispelling Myths of Language AcquisitionWebcast

In October 2016, the Clerc Center hosted a webcast with Roberta J. Cordano, president of Gallaudet University, and Dr. Ronald J. Stern, then-vice president of the Clerc Center, on a topic critical to the future of children who are deaf and hard of hearing: The urgency of providing each child who is deaf or hard of hearing, full and early access to language through bilingual exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) and English.

President Cordano started this discussion in spring of 2016, sharing an evidence-based paper that dispelled the myths of language acquisition for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. This paper called for the use of proven, peer-reviewed and published scientific research and data in guiding early intervention practices. In this webcast, President Cordano and Dr. Stern share their mutual passion on this topic, with a call for stakeholders to explore the importance of dramatically changing existing early language acquisition policies and practices in our country.

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Presenter bios

President Cordano is shown from the waist up, smiling at the camera. She is wearing a business suit.

Roberta Cordano, JD

Roberta J. Cordano has served as the 11th president of Gallaudet University since January 1, 2016. During the announcement of her selection as president, Cordano was recognized as a "transformational leader who is the right person at the right time for Gallaudet." Cordano brings to the Office of the President experience and skills built in both traditional and non-traditional settings.

Prior to Gallaudet, Cordano was the vice president of programs for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Cordano has held several leadership roles in different sectors, including health care, higher education, and government. She is a founding member of Metro Deaf School, a pre-k through eighth grade school, a bilingual-bicultural charter school for deaf and hard of hearing children in St. Paul, and a founding board member of Minnesota North Star Academy, a bilingual-bicultural charter high school for deaf and hard of hearing students.


JD, University of Wisconsin - Madison

BA, Beloit College

Ronald Stern is shown from the chest up, smiling at the camera. He is wearing a gray jacket with a red tie.

Ronald J. Stern, PhD

Ron Stern retired as the vice president of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University. In this role Dr. Stern served as the chief administrator of Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, and a national research and training unit, and as a leading member of the Gallaudet University president’s executive team.

Dr. Stern has worked in deaf education for more than 40 years. Prior to his position at the Clerc Center, he was superintendent of the New York School for the Deaf from 2015-2016, superintendent of New Mexico School for the Deaf from 2000-2015, and director of instruction at California School for the Deaf, Fremont from 1990-2000. He has served on the board of the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf in many capacities, most recently as past-president.

He and his wife Hedy have three children and four grandchildren.


PhD, University of New Mexico, educational leadership

MA, California State University - Northridge, deaf education

BA, Gallaudet University, sociology

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