Research Interests and Expertise

Stephanie W. Cawthon, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned expert for her research that examines the multiple factors that affect how deaf and disabled people succeed in classrooms, workplaces, and at life. She investigates issues of equity and access in education, explores accommodations and accessible learning environments, and challenges systemic standards that may be holding some students back. 

Her research has been funded by nearly $25 million in federal and other grants.

Dr. Cawthon is a professor at The University of Texas at Austin College of Education in the Educational Psychology Department, with a courtesy appointment in Special Education. She was recently named the first deaf editor of Perspectives on Deafness, an interdisciplinary Oxford University Press international book series on the leading research and practices with deaf people.

Dr. Cawthon is the founding director and strategic advisor of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes based at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, where she serves on the Board of Directors and as director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute. The National Deaf Center is a technical assistance and dissemination center funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and Rehabilitation Services Administration with the mission to close the substantial gaps in education and employment that exist for deaf people in the United States and its territories.

With her expertise in pedagogy, research design, and systems change, Dr. Cawthon is director of research and evaluation for Drama for Schools, a collaborative professional development program model in drama-based pedagogy. An affiliation between the Departments of Theatre and Education at the university, Drama for Schools creates intentional partnerships with educators and administrators who seek to increase student engagement and focus on sustainable, whole-school change.

In 2017, Dr. Cawthon co-authored the book Shifting the Dialog, Shifting the Culture: Pathways to Successful Postsecondary Outcomes for Deaf Individuals, which a leading journal called “an important contribution to the field.” She also co-edited Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, Challenges and Considerations in 2017. Her first book, Accountability-Based Reforms: The Impact of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students, won the Exceptional Book of the Year Award in 2012 from Exceptionality Education International.

Follow Dr. Cawthon on Twitter: @swcawthon

Research Projects and Grants

  • National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, 2017–2021, $20.8 million
  • Health Communication Education for Advertising Professionals, 2017–2018, $245,000
  • pepnet 2 Extension for Research Translation, 2017, $200,000 subaward from California State Northridge
  • Collaborative Research: Accessible STEM Instruction With Deaf Students: Supporting Faculty in Pedagogical Exploration and Innovation, 2016–2019, $156,755
  • Accessible by Design: Provost’s Teaching Fellow Project 2021, 2016–2018, $15,000
  • Rea Charitable Trust Award, 2016–2017, $60,000
  • PEPNet 2, 2011–2016, $2,400,000 to The University of Texas at Austin (out of $20 million to California State University, Northridge)
  • Arts Integration for Middle School Teachers, 2012–2014, $86,000
  • Bridging the Gap in Arts Integration Theory and Practice: A “Crowdsourcing” Approach to Digital Resource Development for Texas Educators, 2011–2012, $100,000
  • Drama for Schools, 2010–2012, $45,000

Boards, Committees, and Associations

  • Advisory Board: School Psychology Forum
  • Students With Disabilities Assessment Advisory Task Force: Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Technical Advisory Committee: National Center on Educational Outcomes
  • Technical Advisory Committee: ELPA21 Assessment Consortium at UCLA
  • Advisory Committee of Assessment of English Language Learners: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
  • Diversity Panel: National Committee on Measurement in Education and Association on Higher Education and Disability 
  • Expert Panel: Advancing ALTELLA
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
  • Principal Reviewer: Journal of Educational Psychology
  • Editorial Board Member: Journal of Postsecondary Education and DisabilityAmerican Annals of the DeafJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities


  • Faculty Research Award, Provost’s Teaching Fellows Program, The University of Texas at Austin, 2015–2016
  • Elizabeth Glenadine Gibb Teaching Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, College of Education, 2014–2017
  • Joe R. & Teresa Long Endowed Faculty Fellow, The University of Texas at Austin, College of Education, 2013–2014
  • Exceptional Book of the Year Award, 2012
  • Graduate School Diversity Mentoring Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, 2011–2012

Representative Publications

  • Cawthon, S., & Garberoglio, C. L. (2017). Shifting the dialog, shifting the culture: Pathways to successful postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals. Gallaudet University Press. 
  • Cawthon, S., & Garberoglio, C. L. (Eds.). (2017). Research in deaf education: Contexts, challenges and considerations. Oxford University Press.
  • Cawthon, S. (2011). Accountability-based reforms: The impact on deaf and hard of hearing students. Gallaudet University Press.
Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Cawthon, S. W., Garberoglio, C. L, Palmer, J., Ivanko, T., Davidson, S.Ryan, C., & Johnson, P. (2020). Accessibility of postsecondary education and training for deaf individuals: A proposed conceptual framework. Future Review.
  • Cawthon, S., & Easterbrooks, S. (2020). Bridging the divide between research and practice: Recommendations for the next generation of literacy research in deaf education. In S. Easterbrooks & H. Dostal (Eds.), Oxford handbook of deaf studies in literacy (pp. 417–430). Oxford University Press. 
  • Deckart, C., Cawthon, S., & Loblein, H. (2018). Reflection on action plans: Considering systems alignment in the results of an arts-based professional learning intensive for classroom teachers. Youth Theatre Journal32(1), 75–91.
  • Cawthon, S. W., Johnson, P. M., Garberoglio, C. L., & Schoffstall, S. J. (2016). Role models as facilitators of social capital for deaf individuals: A research synthesis. American Annals of the Deaf16(2), 115–127.
  • Cawthon, S. (2015). Issues of access and validity in standardized academic assessments for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. In H. Knoors & M. Marschark (Eds.), Educating deaf learners: Global evidence (pp. 213–230). Oxford University Press. 
  • Cawthon, S. (2015). From the margins to the spotlight: Diverse deaf and hard of hearing student populations and standardized assessment accessibility. American Annals of the Deaf160(4), 385–394.
  • Cawthon, S., Schoffstall, S., & Garberoglio, C. L. (2014). How ready are postsecondary institutions for students who are d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing? Educational Policy Analysis Archives22(13).

Italics denote students at time of collaboration.