Magazine article Volta Voices

To the Editor

Magazine article Volta Voices

To the Editor

Article excerpt

I write in response to "State Laws for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing" ( Volta Voices July/August 2013).

First, thank you for bringing attention to these laws, which are designed to clarify and enhance the protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The article rightly points out that Deaf Children's Bills of Rights (DCBRs) support access to sign language. It then says that sign language is "not relevant to the majority of students who are deaf and hard of hearing in the public schools" and "52 percent of students who are deaf and hard of hearing nationwide are educated in environments which focus on listening and spoken language." Doing the math, this leaves 48 percent who are not placed in such environments, such as those who are in settings that include sign language. In my view we should celebrate-not criticize-DCBRs' attempts to protect all the ways deaf students communicate, regardless of majority/minority status.

The article also incorrectly states that the language in some state laws "runs counter to federal laws," using as an exam- ple the suggestion that determination of least restrictive environment (LRE) "take into account the unique communication needs of children who are deaf and hard of hearing." In fact, longstanding IDEA interpretation and policy support this pro- vision. For example, the U.S. Education Department has declared:

"Any setting that does not meet the communication and related needs of a child who is deaf does not allow for the provision of a free appropriate public edu- cation (FAPE) and cannot be considered the LRE for that child. …

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