The Honorable Robert Behning, Chair
House Education Committee
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dear Representative Behning,
We are the American Society for Deaf Children,
a proud national organization of parents of deaf and hard of hearing children along with professionals supporting them. The ASDC mission is to support and educate families of deaf and hard of hearing children and advocates for high quality programs and services. This includes a primary core value that these children are entitled to ‘full communication access in their home, school, and community’, including that this parent organization respects and values American Sign Language. In addition, ASDC believes in a supportive system that is seamless, transparent, inclusive, and cohesive.
Our Hoosier families have brought HB 1367 to the attention of the American Society for Deaf Children and after investigating the bill and the situation of its drafting, we have decided to support our Indiana membership by writing this letter in opposition to HB 1367. ASDC has viewed that this piece of legislation has been designed to dismantle the excellent existing source of professional outreach for Indiana parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. This bill would misguidedly re-invent the wheel by creating a new outreach system and placing its critical importance and service in the hands of unknown & potentially unproven players.
The current Outreach Services, which is housed at the Indiana School for the Deaf, is both up-to-date and top caliber when it comes to professional support for families of deaf and hard of hearing children. ISD has a long history of being one of the nation’s top schools in evidence-based deaf education, of which it is a privilege for ASDC to be a part of. It would be an asset to continue supporting and growing even further this Outreach Services at ISD.
ASDC shares this concern that the bill was drafted without comprehensive input from all of the stakeholders – from the Hoosier parents who were served by the current center, from the ISD School Board at large, from the Indiana Deaf Community, and from other Hoosier stakeholders. Transparency and inclusion of dialogues would have resulted in all parties supporting each other and be united with having a comprehensive center.
As the HB 1367 is currently written, it is vague and lacks fiscal safeguard, including lack of detail in how much it will cost and be funded. It does not protect, in a financial parameter, that the families would be provided resources and support, in addition and beyond what is already offered at the ISD’s Outreach Services.
Given the nature of our ASDC organization as inclusive to the families, and because of the current intent of the HB 1367, ASDC is uncomfortable supporting it. Perhaps an opportunity can arise for all stakeholders to share a table and dialogue further on the differences and work towards a common and united agreement. Thank you for reading this letter and recognizing the concerns of the American Society for Deaf Children in this HB 1367 and our rationale for opposing it.
If I can be of any assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Director of Advocacy with full support of the ASDC Board