ASDC recently submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Educations proposed plan for Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Parents already know that IDEA requires that their children be provided with a Free Appropriate Education. This section of the law is known as "Part B." Part D is the section of the law that helps states carry out that mission. Part D authorizes the training of teachers and other personnel, research projects, information sharing, technology development, and other activities. ASDCs comments focused on the need for the Department to ensure that its activities properly address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. ASDC wrote, in part:
As parents of deaf and hard of hearing children we know that our children need teachers, related service providers, educational evaluators, and other professionals with knowledge about and expertise with deaf and hard of hearing children. These professionals must be able to meet our childrens unique language and communication needs. Also, our schools need research-based teaching approaches that have been shown to be effective with deaf and hard of hearing children.
In our experience, often these personnel and practices are absent from our childrens educational setting. The Departments proposed Part D plan is broad enough so that it could include attention to deafness related issues however, there is no affirmative statement of how the plan will address them. A teaching approach or methodology that is effective for students with one type of disability or even a group comprised of students with several types of disabilities - may not be immediately applicable for students with another type, such as deafness. Education programs that "provide differentiated instruction across all age, academic, and functional levels of students may have wide breadth but shallow depth, at least when it comes to children with hearing loss. Recruitment and retention practices that are effective for special education may not be effective for deaf education.
In designing and carrying out its plan, the Department should remain cognizant of its role supporting students with low incidence disabilities and should ensure that the plans outcomes, projects, and activities appropriately consider and address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children and their families.