ENDEAVOR A Publication for Families and Professionals Committed to Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
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INSIDETHIS THISISSUE: ISSUE: INSIDE Advocacy Rocks: A Guide for Parents p. 8 Embracing My Deaf Self p. 11 Keys to Opening the Doors to the Deaf and Hearing Worlds p. 29
American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Avenue, NE Washington, D.C. 20002-3695 Fax: (410) 795-0965 Toll-Free Help Line: (800) 942-ASDC (2732) firstname.lastname@example.org www.deafchildren.org THE ENDEAVOR STAFF Editor Tami Hossler email@example.com Assistant Editor Barbara Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org Newsletter Services T.S. Writing Services, LLC www.tswriting.com ASDC STAFF Director of Advocacy Cheri Dowling email@example.com © 2010 ASDC. The Endeavor is ASDC’s news magazine published four times a year. Published articles and advertisements are the personal expressions of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ASDC. The Endeavor is distributed free of charge to ASDC members.
ADVERTISING For advertising information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. ASDC is a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation.
A Look Inside EVERY ISSUE A Note from the Editor ASDC Board President’s Column Book Review: Have You Ever Seen...? An American Sign Language Handshape DVD/Book Featured School: American School for the Deaf We Deafinitely Can! ASD Students Participate in Peace Jam Websites of Interest Membership Form FEATURES Visualize ASL Singing Through Signing Technology, Communication and Your Deaf Child Embracing My Deaf Self Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning Keys to Opening the Doors to the Deaf and Hearing Worlds Advocacy Rocks! A Guide for Parents When Simple Seems Like a Dream
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Readers Share Comments and Questions Love the new size! Way easier to read, carry, and pass on. Just read it cover to cover and enjoyed it all. Diana Poeppelmeyer, Director Educational Resource Center on Deafness, Texas School for the Deaf Tami, Last fall, our family moved to a wonderful school for the deaf and we are enjoying this experience very much. Our daughter has moved from a firstgrade reading level to a strong secondgrade level in just the past five months and is very strong in math close to a third-grade level as we finish second grade next week. Her vocabulary has increased dramatically. We have met many people at the school. We would greatly love to meet more Deaf parents so our children can get together on the weekends or after school. My question is: how can we best make acquaintances with other Deaf parents? I know there are unique differences between hearing and Deaf parents. What advice do you have on how to best bridge this for our daughter? Neil Neil, I am thrilled to hear how your daughter is doing. It is amazing how fast you are seeing changes. The same thing happened to my daughter when she entered the Indiana School for the Deaf in first grade in 1991. I saw her bloom that first year at ISD in language and 2
literacy, as well as emotionally and socially. Now you are experiencing the same thing! The answer to your good question involves many layers. You may experience what I call “trust building,” a very natural process in any relationship that doesn’t happen overnight. Ask yourself: 1. Are you committed to learning American Sign Language (ASL)? 2. Are you taking classes to understand Deaf culture? 3. Does your daughter’s school offer such classes to hearing parents? Also keep in mind that no matter how hard we as hearing parents try to be a part of the Deaf community, we will never really be a part. We can be allies and we can be “friends of the Deaf community,” but we really aren’t part of it and that is okay. What is definitely okay is that my daughter and your daughter are already a part of the Deaf community and always will be. So knowing this, how can you make sure that your daughter has a normal social life and access to families who are Deaf and can be mentors to her and to your family? Looking back,this is what I found worked best for my family. For your daughter: 1. Involve her in as many extracurricular activities as possible, including summer camps. Make sure to go to these events too and volunteer to help. This will help you meet the Deaf families that are the most active at school.
A Note from the Editor The summer has flown the three plane connecby and it’s already “backtions to get there! I met to-school time.” This some incredible parents issue focuses on ways to who took time out of become a good advocate their busy lives to come for your child. It all starts and learn more about with getting educated. what it takes to raise Erica and Tami Hossler Recently I had the their deaf child. When opportunity to speak to I see this, I am encoura group of parents at the Montana aged. Involved parents make all the School for the Deaf and Blind at its difference in the world for their chilFamily Learning Weekend. It was my dren’s success. first time in Montana and well worth I hope you enjoy this issue! 2. Have parties and invite her friends and classmates. Find a reason to host parties as much as possible, and make sure they are accessible for everyone. Invite the moms or dads to stay during the party. If they happen to veer to the other Deaf people who are there, don’t be upset. This is normal; we always go to who we can communicate with the most fluently. In time, that will be you. 3. Hire a high school student who is Deaf to babysit. This a great benefit for you and your wife to have time to enjoy each other’s company. 4. Attend Deaf community events outside of school. Find out about the events and which are childfriendly. You will be welcome with open arms because you are willing to bring your daughter to the Deaf community and that is the ultimate compliment.
For you: 1. Get involved. Volunteer for field trips, in the classroom, after school, in the parent teacher association, or wherever you are needed. It may seem a bit scary at first if your ASL skills aren’t the best. This is okay; we all start out the same way. As long as you try, you build trust. 2. Go to as many events at the school as possible, including middle and high school sporting events and plays. This is where all the main socializing happens. Your daughter can play with her friends and you can build relationships with other parents. 3. Take as many ASL and Deaf culture classes as you can. 4. Learn to use the videophone and relay services, and use to contact parents. Readers, continued on page 7 3
ASDC BOARD Executive Council Board of Directors President Beth S. Benedict, Ph.D. Germantown, MD firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer Timothy Frelich Jessup, MD email@example.com
Vice President Joe Finnegan St. Augustine, FL firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Secretary Kristen DiPerri Falls, PA email@example.com
Members at Large Barbara Boyd Northridge, CA firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Bravin West Hartford, CT jeff.bravin@asd-1817. org Jodee Crace Indianapolis, IN email@example.com John Egbert Ham Lake, MN firstname.lastname@example.org Lisalee Egbert Sacramento, CA legbert@saclink. csus.edu
Richard Flores St. Augustine, FL richardflores@hotmail. com
Carolyne Paradiso Sulphur, OK email@example.com. ok.us
Vicki Gelona Ardmore, OK firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Reeves Pittsburgh, PA email@example.com
Larry Hawkins Sulphur, OK firstname.lastname@example.org. ok.us
Tony Ronco La Mesa, CA email@example.com
Robert Hill Tucson, AZ firstname.lastname@example.org Tami Hossler Miromar Lakes, FL email@example.com
Paul Rutowski Austin, TX firstname.lastname@example.org Council of Educators for the Deaf Representative Beth Benedict
All About ASDC
You may be an ASDC child’s educational program. member because you This is handy if you can’t believe it is an excellent travel; you can compare organization that promotes programs online first. networking among families Another very helpful link of deaf and hard of hearing is Resources, which presents children and professionals. legal issues and laws related ASDC thanks you for this, Beth S. Benedict, Ph.D. to deaf children and educaand wholeheartedly agrees tional programs. Well-writwith you. Yes, we are biased. ten by Barbara Raimondo, a But take a moment to stop and think lawyer and the mother of two deaf chilabout what ASDC does for you. Have dren, she clearly knows what parents you dived into the website and found experience. resources that you could use? Have you The conference link is something found ideas that might be applicable to everyone should keep an eye on. ASDC you and your family? Or have you had is renowned for its educational, fun, an “Aha!” moment when something and adventurous biennial conferences. I suddenly clicked and made sense? have not been to any conference that ASDC’s website, at www.deafchildren. is more family-friendly than ASDC’s org, is almost impossible to forget. Type conferences. More than half of confer“deaf children” in Google, and the first ence attendees return every year. link is usually ASDC. On the website is To know who works behind ASDC’s an 800 number that anyone can call to scenes, click on About Us, and also check get information related to raising deaf the board listing on page 4 in this issue. children. If, for some reason, we can’t Speaking of the Endeavor, it is done assist you, we will refer you to some- all on a voluntary basis by editors and one who can. We get calls of all types – writers. In fact, ASDC has only one including from families just wanting to employee, and she works as much as share joyous stories. board members do to raise awareness Clicking the education/organization and funds. If you should feel inspired members’ link on the ASDC website will to give in your own way, click on the lead you to educational programs that Donate link. share similar goals with ASDC. Browse a The bottom line is giving, volunteerbit and see what they have to offer. Take ing, and advocating – and that is what advantage of this resource and bring ASDC is all about. exciting and innovative trends to your Visit ASDC at www.deafchildren.org. 5
Interactive Activities for ASL Learners, Developed for Beginning Signers and ASL Students
Visualize ASL provides creative resources for practicing American Sign Language (ASL) with easy-to-use interactive educational software. The Volume 1: Basic Vocabulary and Fingerspelling CD focuses on basic ASL vocabulary and features over 450 words displayed by category. The emphasis is on the signer video, and the user is prompted to visualize ASL by choosing from pictures that correctly match the sign. Having illustrations rather than English words encourages conceptual and critical thinking about the signs as well as the English vocabulary. Visualize ASL owner and producer Cathi Bouton of Fairbanks, Alaska, has a master’s degree in applied linguistics and holds ASL Teachers Association professional certification. During Bouton’s 10-year ASL teaching career at the Univeristy of Alaska, Fairbanks, she began developing the CD for her students to practice vocabulary and become more confident, active participants in classroom language activities. The Memory Match Games CD was conceived after watching Deaf children using Volume 1. Their excitement and enthusiasm set in motion a plan to include a children’s series for future products. Memory Match Games is a test of memory and comprehension. The user makes choices from the menu 6
Hearing parents Caroline Brown and Craig McCaa practice colors with their Deaf baby, Galen. to match the sign to the sign, the sign to the picture, or the picture to the English word. There are three levels of difficulty. Users can play alone or with a friend, and all games are timed and scored. Since the cards are set up randomly, every game is a new one. Currently in production is Volume 2: Basic Vocabulary in Context. This CD again emphasizes the signer and offers interactive activities that result from narratives, dialogues, phrases and sentences. The CDs are being used at several colleges and Deaf schools, and in homes and mainstream programs across the country. Washington State Deaf Services Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Carol Carrothers said, “They are great fun! I loved the matching games. You’ve got a very unique and creative project and something I’ve never seen in my 30 years in the business of deaf education.” Visit www.visualizeasl.com for more information or send an e-mail to info@ visualizeASL.com.
Readers, continued from page 3 Trust-building and Deaf culture: Just like every culture in the world, it is tied to fluency in the language and a common shared experience. That is why I say we as hearing parents will never really be a part of Deaf culture, and that is all right. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn to respect and value it for our own children. It also doesn’t separate us “involved” hearing parents from our children and never will. Our Deaf children’s worlds are diverse; they belong to many worlds: Hearing, Deaf, girl, boy, Caucasian, African-American, Native American, Hispanic, etc. That is what is so cool about learning and becoming educated about ASL/English and Deaf culture/Hearing culture and how to respect both equally.
It helps us understand where we belong in our children’s lives and in the Deaf community. The more we reach out to the Deaf community, the greater networks we create for ourselves and our children.... Keep writing and keep me posted on your journey. Tami Hossler, Editor The Endeavor Send questions or comments to the editor at email@example.com. CORRECTION In the spring issue of The Endeavor, California School for the Deaf’s website address was incomplete. The website is at www.csdeagles. com. We apologize for the error.
Singing through Signing
By Elizabeth Nash January 2008 was the beginning of a fascinating adventure in the Introductory Musical Theatre course that I team-teach at the University of Minnesota. It all started when a deaf student requested permission to register for the class. Since my colleague could demonstrate the dance steps, she was willing to accept Kaitlyn Mielke, but as a singing teacher, I was concerned about Kaitlyn’s inability to hear the music. Kaitlyn explained to me that she could hear the music via her cochlear implant headset and laptop. When I asked how she had acquired her obvious passion for musical theater, she told me that following her implant at the age of five, the first musical sound she had heard was Julie Andrews’s performance of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 8
song, The Sound of Music. From then on, she was in love with musicals and had developed an expertise in signing for live performances. “I’ve asked for lessons,” she added, “but people just laughed in my face. But I’m stubborn— I’ll keep going until I find someone willing to work with me.” In my 35 years of teaching, I had rarely encountered such dedication and persistence. I accepted her immediately and we decided she should sign rather than sing her selections. Kaitlyn arrived the first day accompanied by two interpreters. At first, I found their movements distracting. Soon, however, I became accustomed to their unobtrusive presence and amazing ability to convey directions with their whole bodies, not just their hands. Once, when another student could not remember a specific dance step, Kaitlyn’s interpreter performed it while signing the term. We all burst into laughter and applause. The interpreters quickly memorized Kaitlyn’s songs and signed the words for her. In addition, they signed the other students’ selections for her. We quickly became an integrated, supportive team. One of Kaitlyn’s first signing/performance selections was “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins. Her precise, clear signing and physical intensity were interesting, but she was not expressing the meaning of the words sufficiently with either her body or face to constitute a performance. It
was essential to perform the text as a dramatic monologue and then add the signing. Within a very short time, her either passive facial expression or concentrated frown became animated, conveying a broad spectrum of emotions from sorrow to exaltation. I asked her to tell the class about her introduction to musical theater and then sign/perform The Sound of Music for us. “I’ll cry,” she exclaimed. “That’s fine,” I replied. Both the story and song were delivered with touching sincerity and passion. It was we who cried. Kaitlyn’s signing/performances were to become highpoints in the class. Especially memorable was her rendition of “Defying Gravity” from Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked. By then, her movements and facial expressions were natural and meaningful. She concluded in a euphoric state to her classmates’ cheers and waving of arms in the air. I learned that Kaitlyn was chosen Miss Deaf Minnesota in 2009, and participated in the 2010 Miss Deaf America pageant at the National Association of the Deaf conference. Kaitlyn’s talent portion was a signing/performance of “Defying Gravity” for which she received her first of two standing ovations. She wrote: Standing ovations – one for the crowning (naturally) and one towards the end of “Defying Gravity” (they were literally screaming and cheering by the time I hit “And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was...”). More than a few had tears in their eyes (interpreters included, much as they were thankful they didn’t
have to voice the lyrics as I was thoughtful to provide a CD recording and blasted it from the sound system in the ballroom). It was both disconcerting and surreal to hear (and see the waving arms)... Then, when they announced my name, someone surreptitiously whisked out a black ribbon and tied it around the red roses – “Courtesy of the Phantom.” It hasn’t kicked in yet. Sure, I’ve got the sash hanging off the back of my chair, the tiara and scepter (They were actually REAL metal) and the sound memory of the two standing ovations...but still...it’ll take time to kick in! For the past year, Kaitlyn has “been mentoring the interpreters for most of the Broadway shows that come through town. “Recently [I] did A Chorus Line,” she said, “though nothing matched the magnitude of Rent with two weeks of mentoring and polishing ‘La vie Boheme’ to perfection, nor meeting half of the cast and finding out that most of them knew sign language...” She now has a second cochlear implant. I wonder what the future holds for this tenacious and talented young woman? Katie Mielke is a University of Minnesota student in English, theater and Deaf studies. Born deaf and sporting bilateral cochlear implants, Katie has advocated for access to the arts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences since she was a child. Katie serves the Minneapolis-St Paul theater community as an ASL consultant. 9
Have You Ever Seen...? An American Sign Language Handshape DVD/Book
By Cynthia Neese Bailes Fanciful, yet complex and informative, Have You Ever Seen…? is the first of a series of children’s DVDs and books rooted in American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture. Adonia K. Smith and E. Lynn Jacobowitz’s creative take on traditional alphabet books has each page and DVD chapter featuring one of 44 ASL handshapes, followed by nonsensical questions sure to draw the attention of the intended schoolaged audience. The questions are drawn directly from the handshape portrayed. One one page, for example, the signs HORSE and PAINT spring from the closed-3 handshape, with the question, “Have you ever seen a horse painting?” Tamara Davidson provides humorous illustrations to convey ASL rhymes. For the “horse painting” question, a fanciful horse, eyebrows raised in a yes-no question as is found in ASL grammar, is shown painting a picture. What at first glance appears to be an exclusive work of fantasy emerges as a genre of fantasy and nonfiction. The horse is painting a picture of Laurent Clerc, an icon in Deaf culture. A charcoal drawing of Clerc is on the wall, and a bulletin board behind the horse lists four Deaf artists. The accompanying text is full of inter10
esting historical and cultural information: the reader/viewer goes on to learn that Clerc’s name sign – a closed-3 handshape twice brushing the cheek – is the outline of a scar on his face. Readers also learn that Clerc helped establish the first school for deaf children in the U.S., that the late Deaf artist John Carlin drew the portrait of Clerc, that Gallaudet University named a dormitory after Carlin, and that there are many Deaf artists. The information is cleverly drawn directly from the featured handshapes, forming a logical and predictable pattern throughout the DVD/book, making the viewing and reading both pleasurable and informative. Under the direction of James DeBee, each DVD chapter features Deaf and hearing children signing the whimsical questions. Their contribution lends a jovial sense of rhythm and predictable repetition. Narrator Rosa Lee Gallimore conveys the cultural information in a relaxed, clear, and engaging signing style. By expanding on the playful rhymes such as a pig flying, birds with fangs, and a rooster in a rocking chair, Gallimore conveys rich language intended to stimulate viewer curiosity. Indeed, both the DVD and book are viewer-friendly and reader-friendly, with colorful illus-
trations and a balance between fun and facts. An especially attractive feature of the DVD is the extensions to the book it offers. For example, it features vignettes depicting the rich ASL storytelling tradition, whether with Gallimore retelling the age-old story of King Kong signing to the beautiful woman he has captured in his hand (Will you marry me? [Splat!]) or with featured clips of Jacobowitz, also a renowned ASL storyteller, signing a number or A-Z story. Here lies the beauty of this product: While the authors call it a “handshape DVD/book,” it is actually much more. The ASL handshapes, with their unique drawings and rhythmical questions, could stand alone as an entertaining children’s book. Yet we learn about signed language, as well as Deaf traditions, rituals, art, values, and ways of living together. The DVD/book features historical information, short biographical information about a diverse number of Deaf people, information about how
technology has changed Deaf Culture, and more. The DVD/book also dispels misunderstandings and myths about Deaf people and their language and culture, such as the long held view that ASL is inferior to English. Have You Ever Seen...? is a fine ASLEnglish bilingual production. While it is targeted for a K-12 school-aged audience, its complexity lends itself most naturally to children from third grade and up. Yet, it has a bit of everything for a wider audience – both Deaf and hearing, young and old. A welcome addition to a market with slim pickings of DVDs and books suitable for children that reflect a Deaf world-view, it can be read and viewed in one sitting, or in sections at a time. After reading and viewing Have You Ever Seen…?, I find myself looking forward to seeing it again and again, whether for a laugh or to appreciate once again the richness of Deaf culture. To order the book or for children’s activities and resources, visit www.aslrose.com.
ASDC Board Member Paul Rutowski ASDC board member Paul Rutowski resides in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Avonne and two children. Born Deaf, Rutowski attended public school until sixth grade, when he transferred to the Wisconsin School for the Deaf. A graduate of Gallaudet University, Rutowski is employed with ZVRS. He also is the president of the Texas Association of the Deaf and serves the Texas School for the Deaf Foundation Board and Greater Austin Foundation for the Deaf, in addition to being on the ASDC board. 11
ASDC’s Renewing Educational and Organizational Members Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind 3440 Leahi Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815 (808) 733-4999 (866) 970-6181 VP (808) 733-4824 Fax www.hcdb.k12.hi.us The Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind (HSDB) is a public education facility that provides services to the islands’ deaf, blind, and deaf-blind students. A main function is providing an ASL immersion program following the tenets of a bicultural, bilingual philosophy. Both the ways of Deaf and hearing people are respected and cherished, along with the use of ASL and English. The end result of the program is to produce individuals who are confident participants in both the Deaf and hearing worlds. Seigle Diagnostic Center 2625 E. St. Louis Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89104 (702) 799-7433 (702) 799-7454 Fax sssd.ccsd.net/ lowincidence.html 12
Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children 1800 N. Washington Ave. Scranton, PA 18509 (570) 963-4546 TTY/V (866) 978-1886 VP www.thescrantonschool. org The Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of HearWestern Pennsylvania ing Children (SSDHHC) School for the Deaf is a non-profit, tuition300 East Swissvale Ave. free school with high Pittsburgh, PA 15218 academic expectations. (800) 624-3323 Founded in 1880, SSDwww.wpsd.org HHC continues its traThe Western Pennsyl- dition of excellence by vania School for the providing quality eduDeaf (WPSD) is a non- cational services and a profit school with high complete extracurricular academic expectations. program to deaf and hard WPSD, founded in 1869, of hearing children. SSDprovides quality edu- HHC maintains an all-incational services and a clusive communication/ complete extracurricu- language environment lar program to Deaf and with an emphasis on fluhard of hearing children ency in ASL and English. from birth through 12th grade. Serving over 250 Children’s Center for students from more than Communication/ 100 school districts and The Beverly School 30 counties, WPSD is the 6 Echo Ave. largest comprehensive Beverly, MA 01915 center for deaf education (978) 927-7200 TTY in Pennsylvania. (866) 320-3233 VP (978)927-7070 Voice The Low Incidence Disabilities team provides direct services, consultation and classroom consultation, technical support, parent training, professional development opportunities and supplemental programs for students.
(978) 927-6536 Fax www.beverlyschoolforthedeaf.org The Beverly School for the Deaf (BSD) was founded in 1876 and has gone through many changes. BSD began accepting hearing students with developmental and language delays during the 1970s. The Children’s Center for Communication (CCC) shapes BSD’s changing identity in an increasingly technological and research-based world. CCC has formally grown into its own program and educates a diverse population of children with autism and related disorders. BSD continues to remain a strong academic and language-rich program, open to all children with any degree of hearing loss from preschool to high school. Diverse students have individual needs that are supported by various approaches and accommodations. The school continues to focus on developing deaf and hard of hearing children to become well-rounded academically, socially, vocationally, and throughout all aspects of their communications.
American School for the Deaf 139 N. Main St. West Hartford, CT 06107 (860) 570-2222 TTY (860) 570-2300 Voice www.asd-1817.org As the first school for the deaf in the U.S. and the oldest special education institution in the western hemisphere, the American School for the Deaf (ASD) has set the standard for Deaf education for 193 years. Since 1817, ASD has provided Deaf and Hard of Hearing infants, youth, adults and their families an excellent education and a wide range of resources and services needed to realize their full potential as self-directed citizens. The pre-kindergarten through 12th grade program currently serves nearly 200 children and is approved by the Dept. of Education in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
A Big Thank You to Our Donors Sandra Borkowski Kristin & Stephen DiPerri Alison Foreman, in memory of David Williams Timothy Frelich Joseph & Jean
McLenigan Lawrence & Betty Newman Margaret Verdecchio In Memory of Donald Martin: Samantha Dickinson Alan & Maureen
Klayton Mary & Kevin Martin Ronald & Sharon Paxson Sandra Stover Joan & Michael Ungashick Linda VanderPol
ASDC’s Annual Appeal is still taking place. Please consider donating! 13
Technology, Communication and Your Deaf Child We live in an era of unprecedented communication. This is true for both deaf and hearing individuals. While deaf communication technology has not yet caught up to hearing technology, deaf individuals today enjoy many more communication channels and greater communication efficiency than ever before. This technology can be life-changing for deaf children and their families. Parents of deaf children can be the catalyst for providing communication technology to their children that will help reduce feelings of isolation and encourage building strong relationships with family and friends. Determining the best communication technology for a child should be based on their first language. If the childâ€™s first language is American Sign Language (ASL), a videophone with video relay services (VRS) is the most effective communication tool to communicate with hearing and deaf individuals in other areas. VRS is available through video relay providers, such as Sorenson Communications, and can be used with any television set or computer, which most people already have. Videophones are licensed to users at no cost so usually the only expense for VRS users is the cost of high-speed internet service. VRS works by placing a call via a high14
speed Internet connection using a videophone, such as the Sorenson VP-200ÂŽ, connected to a television screen. The deaf user sees an ASL interpreter on the television screen and signs messages to the interpreter, who simultaneously relays the call to the hearing party using a standard telephone. Deaf individuals can also make point-to-point videophone calls to other deaf individuals. Both parties see each other on their screens and communicate using ASL. Unlike previous forms of deaf communication, such as TTYs, VRS is a visual form of communication, which empowers even ASL-using toddlerage children to use the service to keep in touch with friends and relatives in other areas. VRS is easy to use, and Sorenson Communications, the leading VRS provider in the United States, provides professional VRS trainers who install the videophone and train the family on its use. Providing communication tools for deaf children empowers them to reach out to others and can lead to closer relationships, less frustration in communication and increased independence. To learn more about Sorenson VRS and how to apply for a videophone, visit www.sorensonvrs.com.
Nominations Being Accepted for 2011 Lee Katz Award The Lee Katz Award is presented every two years, and the next awarding will be during ASDC’s 22nd Biennial Conference in Frederick, Md., held June 22–26, 2011. Lee Katz was the first president and executive director of the International Association of Parents of the Deaf (IAPD), now ASDC. She displayed outstanding leadership, dedication, and service to parents and families of deaf and hard of hearing children. The Lee Katz Award recognizes extraordinary parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Such parent nominees should possess the qualities of leadership, dedication, and service.
To nominate someone, please submit the nominee’s name, address, telephone, e-mail, family circumstances, leadership qualities, service, special accomplishments, and three to five references. The person making the nomination should include his or her name, address, e-mail and phone number. All nominations should be sent to: ASDC Lee Katz Award Nominee, #2047, 800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations must be received no later than April 1, 2011. For questions, e-mail Cheri Dowling at email@example.com or call (800) 942-2732. 15
American School for the Deaf
193 Years of Teaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
An ASD Overview The American School for the Deaf (ASD) was the first school for the Deaf in the United States and is the oldest special education institution in the western hemisphere. Since 1817, ASD has provided Deaf and Hard of Hearing infants, youth, and adults and their families an excellent education and a wide range of resources and services to realize their full potential as self-directed citizens. Our on-campus pre-kindergarten through 12th grade program currently serves nearly 200 children and is approved by the Departments of Education in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We also serve international students. Approximately half of our students are residential, and ASD is the only program in Connecticut serving behaviorally challenged Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. This program is licensed and approved by the Connecticut Dept. of Children and Families and has been a model for programs in other states. We also provide outreach and support services to over 35 school districts within Connecticut via our highly qualified, professional staff. About Our School Programs The ASD staff has developed an educa16
tional program designed to meet each student’s unique needs. Classes are kept small to meet the needs of diverse learning styles. All pre-K-12 curriculum offerings are based on the Connecticut Framework: K-12 Curricular Goals and Standards. ASD students have full access to the school’s comprehensive audiological, psychological, academic and career services, including speech and auditory evaluation and training, cochlear implant support, occupational and physical therapy, and personal, academic and career counseling. The elementary school is home to preschool through sixth grade. Tailored to the needs of each student, curricular and extracurricular activities develop language, communication and problem-solving skills, instill confidence and nurture a lifelong love of learning.
The junior high and high schools offer individualized attention in an atmosphere designed to encourage each student’s interests and abilities. The junior high school (7th-8th grades) operates on a quad concept based on the integration of content area instruction: Montessori, Gifted and Talented, Adventure Education and Open Classroom strategies are integrated into the instructional philosophy. The high school (9th-12th grades) is divided into three educational strands: • Academic curriculum and preparation for college and postsecondary programs • Vocational-technical education and preparation for college and post-secondary training • Preparation and training for direct entry into the workforce The Positive Attitudes Concerning Education and Socialization (PACES) program serves Deaf and Hard of Hearing students whose emotional/ behavioral challenges prevent them from participating in regular academic or other special education settings. PACES students receive intense psychological services integrated with an individualized education plan in either a five-day or seven-day program. Dormitories for PACES students are Connecticut Dept. of Children and Families-licensed residential treatment facilities.
Early Childhood Services (0-3) For nearly 30 years, the early childhood services program has provided comprehensive home and community-based services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing infants and children from birth to age three and their families throughout Connecticut. Our program is guided by the principle that each family and child is unique and that children can learn to communicate in a variety of ways. We provide families with accurate, unbiased information regarding the different language/ communication approaches available, including the use of speech, listening and sign language. Our service providers are certified professionals who have received special training in supporting families with infants and young Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, including those with additional developmental needs. Our pediatric audiologists have extensive experience working with very young children with hearing loss from mild to profound, including 17
auditory neuropathy/dys-synchrony, and using the latest technology of hearing aids, FMs and cochlear implants. We have bilingual staff fluent in American Sign Language and Spanish. All staff members meet the Connecticut birth-to-three personnel standards. Each child and family receives a comprehensive assessment. Together, the family and service provider develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). Based on a family’s choice in the method of communicating with its child, our services can be provided to support aural/oral, auditory/verbal and/or sign language communication systems. Services are provided yearround with flexible hours to meet the needs of each family and services may include: • Service coordination • Home visits • Audiological services • Cochlear implant services • Loaner hearing aids
Sign language instruction for family members • Other supports such as physical therapy and occupational therapy • Access to ASD Family Education Services Our goal is to provide families with the resources, support, and guidance that best meets the unique, individual needs of their infant or young child. ASD’s website is at www.asd-1817.org.
Deaf Swimmer Keeps a Beat
By Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer of the Auburn Journal Lindsey Guevel is just like any other 12-year-old synchronized swimmer who loves her teammates and feels proud of her accomplishments, but Lindsey is also completely deaf in the water... Lindsey has been hard of hearing since birth. Normally she wears a hearing aid, but that isn’t possible in the water. Since she can’t hear the music that goes along with her routines, Lindsey counts to herself to keep on beat. Susie Parker has been working as Lindsey’s swim team interpreter for three years. She signs and speaks during practices and meets, because Lindsey also reads lips. Lindsey has been a member of the Auburn Mermaids synchronized swimming team since she was seven years old. She lives in Auburn, Calif., with her family. Excerpted from http://bit.ly/9RK1CQ 18
We Deafinitely Can!
ASD Students Participate in Peace Jam For the past three years, high school students at the American School for the Deaf (ASD) have participated in an international education program called Peace Jam. “Based on the lives and works of leading Nobel Peace Prize winners who share their spirit, skills and wisdom with youth around the world, the program helps young people become committed to positive changes in themselves and become a force for change in their communities and the world.” The program consists of three components: a curriculum on peace/nonviolence; learning about the life and work of a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and a student-designed service project. ASD is the only program serving deaf and hard of hearing students in the Northeast Region that participates. This year, ASD students were invited to facilitate a workshop, “Life as a Deaf Teen.” The students talked about their life experiences and answered questions from the audience. The session ended with a short sign language lesson. This workshop helped raise awareness about deafness and sign language and also highlighted similarities instead of differences. For their service project, students chose “Equal Access to Clean Water and other Natural Resources,” and designed a project to address this worldwide
problem. As part of their research, students held a videoconference with Gallaudet University professor Josh Swiller, a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked on water projects in Africa. The students decided to raise funds to buy LifeStraws for the Institut Montfort (school for the deaf) in Haiti, which was devastated by the recent earthquake. LifeStraws are individual filtration systems that allow people to drink dirty water. The filters kill 99.99% of water-borne bacteria and 98.99% of water-borne viruses. To raise money, the students hosted a dance and raised about $200. They conducted a two-week campaign to raise awareness about the problem and made presentations to fellow students, staff as well as the board of directors. In 2008, participating ASD students developed a project that focused on 19
ending prejudice and discrimination. Students hosted a forum for both hearing and deaf students from around New England to educate teens about prejudice and give them an opportunity to share their experiences and promote positive change in the world. About 100 students attended the day-long forum. In 2009, ASD students wrote to more than 300 people, both famous and not-sofamous, asking them to share a brief experience of prejudice or discrimination and how they responded. They included these anecdotes in a book, and proceeds from the sales went to the International Red Cross. Peace Jam has afforded ASD students the opportunity to work on character education, peace and non-violence and community service. It has also provided a forum for educating others about deafness and creating opportunities for better understanding and mutual acceptance. We â€œdeafinitelyâ€? can!
I Deafinitely Can! The Endeavor is excited to feature stories of deaf and hard of hearing individuals who test and go above their limits. We are looking to showcase stories that will inspire others to reach for the stars. If you know of someone with a story to tell, please e-mail the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Playful Stories for Read-Aloud Fun! Story Time with Signs and Rhymes
Embracing My Deaf Self By Karen Putz It is 11 o’clock at night and my house is filled with the sound of eight teenagers sitting around my family room chatting and laughing. Some of them are signing, some of them are animatedly talking. Some of them are deaf, some are hard of hearing and two of them have hearing in the normal range. Three of them are mine and all three have hearing aids perched in their ears. My youngest sports colorful earmolds with red, white and blue swirls. I’ve got a pair of blue earmolds with sparkles shining out from under my dark hair. As I watch the kids talk excitedly about some silly photo on Facebook, I’m thinking back to my own teen years. My summers as a teen were spent hiding the fact that I couldn’t hear. As soon as the school year ended, my lone hearing aid was placed on a ledge and wasn’t touched until the first day of school in the fall. I spent my summers with a great group of friends, many who knew just what to do to make communication happen between us. I depended a lot on my lipreading skills to piece together conversations. It was the casual group gatherings that had me bluffing my way through conversations because it was next to impossible to lipread the many lips that were speaking at the same time. Then there was the stigma of being different, of standing out. I tried hard
not to stand out, instead trying everything I could to blend in and be “one of them.” My life changed in an instant the summer I was 19. I was barefooting behind the boat, practicing wake crossing. As my feet skimmed across the water, my foot caught the edge of the wake and I slammed into the water. There was no time to do a normal tuckand-roll, something I had done many times before. When I climbed into the boat, I tried to shake the water out of my ears. Everything sounded muffled – lips moved but there wasn’t the usual sound to match with it. It wasn’t until many days later that I realized that I had become deaf. My life took an interesting turn at that point. Once the grief subsided and I dried the tears, I entered a new world filled with deaf and hard of hearing people. It wasn’t easy – because I had spent the previous 19 years of my life hiding my hearing aid and feeling quite uncomfortable with anything that 21
reminded me that I was “different.” It took awhile for me to learn American Sign Language and get to the point that I embraced a deaf identity. Once I did, there was an amazing transformation in my life: Yes, I am deaf and gosh-darn-it, that’s perfectly ok. One by one, my own kids began to lose their hearing and soon our lives were filled with hearing aids, Individualized Education Plans, signing, speech therapy and other families with deaf and hard of hearing kids. I do see the same struggles to understand everything being said around them, but I also see that my kids are growing up with a very different attitude than I had – they’re comfortable with themselves, assertive in getting their communication needs met… and they don’t hide their hearing aids. They have access to texting, interpreters, captioning, videophones and more. They’re growing up with deaf and hard of hearing role models – something that I didn’t have access to. I came across a quote on Twitter recently that perfectly sums up what I wish I had known when I was growing up: Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out? –Unknown Karen Putz’s blog, “A Deaf Mom Shares Her World,” is at www.deafmomworld.com.
In the News Hearing Aid Tax Credit: HR 1646 The Hearing Aid Tax Credit was introduced in the House of Representatives by Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI). This bill seeks to provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid for children and people over age 55. More information is at www. hearingaidtaxcredit.org. Gallaudet President Alan Hurwitz Inaugurated According to Inside Gallaudet, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz accepted the presidency of Gallaudet on May 12, pledging to lead the university toward achieving “a natural balance” between its cherished heritage and required changes for a bright and promising future. 22
Association for Airline Passenger Rights Calls for Better Accessibility for In-Flight Entertainment World Without Hearing reported that the Association for Airline Passenger Rights (AAPR) has called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to require commercial air carriers to provide closed captions or subtitles on all in-flight entertainment for deaf and hard of hearing passengers. While DOT requires that captioning be available for all safety and information related videos, it does not enforce the same standard for in-flight entertainment, such as movies and television shows. More information is at www.flyfriendly skies.com.
Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning
The Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC) is a working online community that is a grassroots collaboration of individuals from various professions and backgrounds who understand how important captioning and high quality speech-to-text systems are for most people with hearing loss. CCAC has one focus, captioning action, and offers: • An interactive collaborative and open exchange of timely information about any and all captioning advocacy projects taking place in cities, states, regions or in the nation by individuals, organizations, government departments, agencies, and others. A goal is to create useful organized data about who is doing what and where, along with methods, approaches and technologies used. • A place to initiate new captioning advocacy projects and also work collaboratively with national organizations for people with hearing loss to add new energies and support ongoing captioning advocacy. • A place to encourage new state projects for communication access using the group model. Participation from concerned and energetic individuals is invited. Whether participants are people with hearing loss, their families, professional providers, attorneys, or interested others, there is always room for new ideas and new actions to push this agenda forward for millions of people who deserve equal communication access. For more information, contact Lauren Storck at email@example.com.
Websites of Interest The Postsecondary Education Programs Network (PEPNet) Frequently Asked Questions www.pepnet.org/faq.asp Check answers to questions such as: What responsibility does a school have for getting video clips captioned? Why do some students with cochlear implants request accommodations and others do not? Shadow Interpreting on Stage terptheatre.com/shadowing.html
Health Information for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People www.healthbridges.info Going To Work: A Guide to Social Security Benefits and Employment for Young People with Disabilities www.communityinclusion.org /article.php?article_id=211# ManageBenefits
Keys to Opening the Doors to the Deaf and Hearing Worlds
The Importance of Developing Positive Parental Perspectives in the Overall Development of the Child Who is Deaf
By J. Freeman King How does a hearing parent assist a When being deaf is viewed deaf child in establishing an identity as a Deaf person? How might this as a pathological condition, a Deaf identity foster being a contrib- disability that distinguishes uting member of both the Deaf and abnormal from normal, there Hearing worlds? What provisions are inherently low expectations need to be made to assure that the deaf child is given the human right of that accompany this perspecbeing Deaf â€“ of establishing an iden- tive. However, when deafness is tity of which he/she can be proud, considered a difference... expecof having a fully accessible language that can lead to literacy in the writ- tations are immediately raised. ten language, and be allowed to dream and realize dreams just as hearing children are encouraged and allowed to do? The parentsâ€™ responses to these questions can be the determining factor in the overall educational, social, emotional, and linguistic development of the deaf child. Statistics indicate that over 90% of deaf children have hearing parents, and these parents often view their child as being disabled. Parents identify with the pathological view of deafness because they have been led by professionals to view it as such. A more productive view, however, is to understand that if given an appropriate education and an accessible language in the least restrictive environment, their child can achieve whatever he/she might dare to dream. With this thought in mind, it is important to understand that there are basically two diametrically opposed ways in which being deaf can be viewed: either as a pathology or as a socio-cultural difference. Normal or Abnormal When being deaf is viewed as a pathological condition, a disability that distinguishes abnormal from normal, there are inherently low expectations that accompany this perspective. However, when deafness is considered a difference that distinguishes normal Deaf people from normal Hearing people, expectations are immediately raised. 24
Parents are often led to believe that if their child embraces the language (ASL) and the culture of the Deaf world this will segregate the child from the language and society of the Hearing world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Embracing the language, culture, and societal expectations of the Deaf community. in no way segregates him/her from the Hearing world; rather, it provides a socio-cultural group with which he/she can interact meaningfully and deeply, while at the same time being a member of the larger Hearing world. The Hearing world’s perception that the child is disabled should be discussed with the child: “Yes, you have challenges that Hearing people do not have. Yes, you will experience discrimination and misunderstandings because you are deaf.” However, the parents should reinforce the idea that being deaf does not prevent the child from doing and becoming whatever he/she wishes to do and become. Parents must not succumb to the temptation to deny the fact that their child is deaf; rather, by accepting deafness as a socio-cultural difference the door is opened for the child to establish fluid and meaningful communication with the Deaf world and Deaf peers, while at the same time, as the child becomes skilled in reading and writing, the door to accessing the Hearing world is opened.
Should the Focus be on a Cure or an Emphasis on Abilities and Equalities? It is important that parents understand that the pathological model of deafness focuses on a cure or the amelioration of the perceived sensory impairment, whereas the difference model emphasizes abilities and equalities. The pathological model embraces the idea that primary attention must be given to hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other devices that enhance auditory perception and/or focus on speech. The difference model, on the other hand, focuses on issues of communication access and language of a deep and meaningful nature. The assumption of the general public, some professionals in education and medicine, as well as some parents, is that technological advances such as hearing aids and cochlear implants will remedy the hearing loss. Even though the hearing aid or the cochlear implant can be, for some deaf children, a valuable tool that assists in the development of speech, it should be understood that even with hearing aids or cochlear implants, the child remains a visual learner. This means that the child’s full access to language and his/ her world is primarily dependent on vision (the child’s strength) and not on the auditory channel (the child’s weakness). Keys, continued on page 28 25
Encouraging Youth in Advocacy Worldwide By Roz Rosen Young people don’t have the word “impossible” in their vocabulary. They seek training about rights, roles and responsibilities, and leadership. They seek mentors and supporters in terms of laws, visions, resources, and strategies. The Frontrunners (www.frontrunners.dk), an international deaf youth leadership training program, offers opportunities to learn all of this through teamwork. The Frontrunners also work closely with the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (www.wfdys. org), which is independent but in close alignment with the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) (www.wfdeaf.org). WFD, like the United Nations, is made up of many national associations of the deaf, with only one NAD per country represented. The United States National Association of the Deaf is a WFD affiliate, and there is a new youth organization in the U.S. as well, Deaf Youth USA (DYUSA). DYUSA (www.dyusa.org) has a strong focus on social justice. Additionally, a California State University, Northridge, graduate was recently accepted into the 2010 Frontrunners cohort. Reality must have ideality as its destination. Together, we can! Roz Rosen, Ph.D., is the director of the National Center on Deafness at California State University, Northridge.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Prepare for Success Cutting-edge career education for students with hearing loss • Dynamic, high-tech learning environment • Hands-on experience in your field • Outstanding access and support services For more information, call 585-475-6700 (voice/TTY) or email NTIDadmissions@rit.edu www.rit.edu/ntid/asdce 26
Day and Residential Pre-K, Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools Statewide Birth-to-Three Services Serving deaf and hard of hearing children, young adults, their families and the organizations and institutions that serve them.
Extensive Public School Outreach Resources and Services Day and Residential Program for Behaviorally Challenged Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Educational Assessments & Counseling On Campus Summer Programs Camp Isola Bella
139 North Main Street • West Hartford, CT 06107 860.570.2300 (v/tty) • 860.570.2301 (fax) • www.asd-1817.org 27
Keys, continued from page 25 Parents should be aware that the exception should not be interpreted as the rule, and if they adopt the pathological model, there is no guarantee that their child will grow up to be a “normally” speaking adult or will be amalgamated successfully into the Hearing world. Also, when told by professionals that the use of American Sign Language will inhibit or prevent the development of speech, the parents should be skeptical of this advice, because research does not support this claim. Accessible Language If the language used in the educational and social environment is not completely accessible, one can only imagine the consequences for the person, both as a student and later as an adult: incomplete access to literacy, a negative impact on the development of selfesteem, and wandering in a no-man’s land relative to cultural identification. As a result, the deaf child often becomes the “twilight child” – a child who often does not fully fit, linguistically or socially, into either the Deaf or Hearing world, and ultimately, often as an adult, must choose which of the two worlds is the most easily accessible for his/her primary social and linguistic interactions. 28
Socialization Socially, the view of the pathological model is that the child should be integrated into the Hearing world. The view of the difference model is that people who are deaf will naturally socialize in both the Deaf and Hearing communities. The person who is deaf is, by necessity, a functioning member of both cultures; one has only to look at the worlds of work, athletics, law, mathematics, engineering, education and theater: Marlee Matlin, an Emmy Award winning Deaf actress; Kenny Walker, formerly a Deaf defensive end for the Denver Broncos; Dr. Robert Davila, a Deaf university president; Andrew Foster, a Deaf man who established schools for deaf children throughout West Africa; William Hoy, a Deaf professional baseball player for Cincinnati; Douglas Tilden, a Deaf sculptor whose works adorn the streets of San Francisco; Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a Deaf Russian scientist whose plans helped launch the world into the Space Age; and Ella Mae Lentz, Dr. Mervin Garretson and Dr. Clayton Valli, Deaf poets and educators. Yet, as needed, Deaf people also embrace segregation, simply for the enhancement of deeper and more meaningful communication and cultural involvement.
Paternalism Perhaps the most insidious element of the pathological model is paternalism: the assumption that hearing people have an obligation to assist those who are deaf in overcoming a perceived disability. The attitude expressed in the difference model is that those who are hearing should work with, not for, the Deaf towards mutual respect and equality, fully realizing that given equal access and opportunities, the Deaf can succeed on their own, often not because of, but in spite of their education. Identity and Language A fully accessible language and the development of a socio-cultural identity are of utmost importance in the life of a child who is deaf. It is vitally important that the deaf child be afforded the human rights of easily and naturally accessing language and not becoming a clone of others’ expectations. If the parents will take the child’s lead regarding communication and language, if the parents will become the child’s advocate related to an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, and if the parents will make provisions for the child to be socially and educationally engaged with Deaf children and Deaf adults – the child can and will internalize the wisdom in the words of a former deaf president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.: “The deaf can do anything that a hearing person can do, except hear.” J. Freeman King, Ed. D., is the director of Utah State University’s Deaf education program in Logan.
ASDC Welcomes Robert Hill to Board Robert Hill, Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind superintendent, holds an Ed.S. degree in special education, a master’s degree in deaf education, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and educational administration. Previously, Robert was a member of Nebraska’s Dept. of Education, Office of Special Populations Management Team as Director of Education Programs for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired and Programs for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. While in Nebraska, he partnered with Boys Town National Research Hospital in providing parent training and cochlear implant support to families and districts across Nebraska. Hill has served as a parent advocate, educational interpreter, classroom teacher, consultant, and administrator. He also has served on legislative committees for the regionalization of services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and chaired state-level Special Education Advisory Panels in two states. 29
ADVOCACY ROCKS! A Guide for Parents
So You Have a Deaf Child Education can be the catalyst that new parents need to become effective advocates for their children. The more educated a parent becomes, the higher the likelihood that they will become involved in their child’s life. Research shows that children who have highly involved parents, in general, have higher achievement levels. Parent expectations play a very big role in a child’s development and achievement. Dr. J. Freeman King (2009) states, “Viewing a child as normal versus abnormal can lead to a lowering of a parental expectations. A socio-cultural view distinguishes Normal Deaf from Normal Hearing. This leads to a raising of parental expectations” (see article on page 24). The raising of parents’ expectations is an underlying goal of early intervention. Early intervention service providers educate new parents of deaf children on a variety items including developmental milestones, language acquisition, technology, support services, and their children’s rights through the Individuals With Disabilities Act and Special EducaA deaf child who is cared for, tion services. The medical profesvalued as a whole person, and sion provides parents with informagiven accessible language from tion about the inner workings of the ear. And if lucky, parents have a deaf day one can thrive socially, mentor to provide the cultural and emotionally, physically, linguistic education associated with raising a deaf child. and intellectually. Parents, as caregivers, have a big responsibility for the well-being of their children. A deaf child who is cared for, valued as a whole person, and given accessible language from day one can thrive socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. 30
Finding an Educational Program Often parents want to know what the best program is, or whether a particular program is better than another one. The only way to make these kinds of judgments is by seeing for yourself what the program is like. Visit a variety of educational programs. Some questions you may want to think about as you visit programs are: • Is this program specifically designed to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children, or is it a generic program? Generally a specialized program will be more likely to meet your child’s needs. • Is it a home-based program, a center-based program, or a combination of the two? Both types of programs have advantages. Visit one or more programs of each type and see for yourself what those advantages are. • How well do the staff and children communicate? Since communication can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, communication skills should be at the center of any program. • How much family support is available? This could be in the form of information about assistive technology, provision of sign language classes, counseling, or any other type of support. Ask Lots of Questions This is all new to you and there is a lot to know.
Educated Parents •
• • • •
Examine the cultural, linguistic, visual and auditory needs of a diverse range of deaf children. Explore all language and communication opportunities and make educated choices after careful consideration of their child’s linguistic needs. Understand the importance of parent interaction in language acquisition. Examine how a solid foundation in a first language affects literacy levels. Recognize developmental milestones. Learn about technology and its use as a tool for deaf children to access their environment. These are not limited to auditory devices but also include visual lighting alerts, videophones, and closed captioning. Understand deaf children’s educational rights through the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Don’t accept the most convenient school but examine a variety educational programs in their state or nationally that meet the needs of their child.
Review Each Suggestion You Receive Carefully Do you fully understand what is being recommended, or do you need further information? Do you know what the positives and the negatives are? Does it sound like something that will work for you and your family? No Decision Needs to be Forever Support what is working for your child and modify or eliminate what is not working. The goal should be optimum outcomes, not adhering to a particular ideology. Finally… Love and value your child for the wonder that he/she is.
The Short-and-Sweet IEP Overview An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP. That’s why the process of developing this vital document is of great interest and importance to educators, administrators, and families alike. Here’s a crash course on the IEP. What’s the IEP’s purpose? The IEP has two general purposes: to set reasonable learning goals for a child, and to state the services that the school district will provide for the child. The IEP is developed jointly by the school system, the parents of the child, and the student (when appropriate). 32
Who develops the IEP? The IEP is developed by a team of individuals that includes key school staff and the child’s parents. The team meets, reviews the assessment information available about the child, and designs an educational program to address the child’s educational needs that result from his or her disability. When is the IEP developed? An IEP meeting must be held within 30 calendar days after it is determined, through a full and individual evaluation, that a child has one of the disabilities listed in IDEA and needs special education and related services. A child’s IEP must also be reviewed at least annually thereafter to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved and must be revised as appropriate. What’s in an IEP? Each child’s IEP must contain specific information, as listed within IDEA, our
nation’s special education law. This includes (but is not limited to): • the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, describing how the child is currently doing in school and how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum • annual goals for the child, meaning what parents and the school team think he or she can reasonably accomplish in a year • the special education and related services to be provided to the child, including supplementary aids and services (such as a communication device) and changes to the program or supports for school personnel • how much of the school day the child will be educated separately from nondisabled children or not participate in extracurricular or other nonacademic activities such as lunch or clubs • how (and if) the child is to participate in state and district-wide assessments, including what modifications to tests the child needs • when services and modifications will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last • how school personnel will measure the child’s progress toward the annual goals. “The evidence is clear – schools cannot close the achievement gap without partnering Can students be involved with families. Over 40 years of research in developing their own has demonstrated that engaging families in IEPs? their children’s education improves student Yes, they certainly can be! achievement, attendance, and behavior, and IDEA actually requires that increases graduation rates. the student be invited to any 1. Children spend 70 percent of their wakIEP meeting where transiing hours outside of school, and how tion services will be disthey spend that time is critical to their cussed. These are services success in school. designed to help the student 2. Modest investments in increasing famiplan for his or her transition lies’ knowledge and skills to support to adulthood and life after learning can leverage our larger investhigh school. ment in teacher quality and school imReprinted with permission provement.” from National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY); this article may also be viewed at www.nichcy.org/EducateChildren/IEP/Pages/overview. aspx.
April 22 statement by Anne T. Henderson, Senior Consultant, Community Organizing and Engagement, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 33
Powerful Parent Tools for the IEP Process By Richard Ruderman and Lisalee D. Egbert All parents with special needs children have or should have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/ or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) in place before the child starts school. The following tips are meant to empower you as parents and to lead you to advocate for your child. 1. You should not sign the IEP at the meeting. Because we are dealing with emotions related to our child, we need time to reflect on the IEP meeting. As I recall, at one “great” IEP meeting for our son a few years ago, we went home with the unsigned IEP. We wanted so badly to sign the IEP – we had won all the services that we had asked for and we were thrilled! After reflection, we noticed that no timelines, length of services, or amount of services were documented. An unsigned IEP gives pause to the teachers and administrators to give more thought to your child’s IEP. 2. You can disagree with all or part of an IEP. For example, if you strongly feel that your child needs speech after school to ensure that academic achievement is not being compromised, you can disagree with the time of the speech lesson. Make sure that you write your objections into the document. If need be, 34
this documentation will serve to aid in the due process proceedings later. 3. You can bring a representative to the IEP meeting to assist you. As a parent, we might become clouded by the reports, documentation and dialogue presented at the meeting. A friend, advocate or legal counsel, can serve to provide you with support both during and after the IEP. 4. Have a meeting at a time and place convenient for you. It is completely within parents’ rights to hold the meeting at a time and place that is conducive to the parent. If parents are constrained by time limitations, they cannot give the IEP their fullest and utmost attention. Give yourself ample time to discuss all aspects of your child’s education. If your meeting is lasting past a comfortable time limit, you can ask the team to continue the meeting at another time. Remember, you have a right to fully explore all reports, documentation and tests. Ask questions until you fully understand and can make an informed decision. 5. You can tape record the IEP meeting. You must give 24 hours written notice if you choose to do this. Taping a meeting can help parents recall details of the meeting. Such tapes can also be used in the due process proceed-
ings if need be. 6. You can ask the school district to include specific service providers, including private service providers, as part of the IEP team. If someone is working with your child as an outside provider, regardless of who is paying the bill, that provider’s information related to your child can be included. For example, if your insurance is paying for your child to see a counselor, the psychotherapist can be invited to attended, provide documents in the form of a formal letter or report, or join the IEP meeting via phone conference. 7. You can obtain an independent assessment. Under certain circumstances, the school distract must pay for an independent assessment. In today’s economy, the option of paying for an outside assessment is difficult for most. However, it might benefit some parents to do so. If you are sure that your child qualifies for a specific service but the district assessment says there are no substantial findings, parents can pay out-of-pocket for an assessment. With your independent assessment report in hand, parents can present this to the IEP team to resolve discrepancies and possibly seek reimburse-
ment. If the school district does not have an appropriate specialist to perform an assessment on your child, the district must pay for an independent assessment. If the district does have a qualified person to assess your child, but that person is out on sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, etc., that does not exempt the school district from its timely obligation. Again, parents can ask for outside assessments. 8. The school district must give you written notice of the purpose of the meeting. Districts must always inform parents of what is happening with their child when a meeting is called. If, for example, the school district would like to modify, change or eliminate a child’s IEP during a meeting, the school district must notify the parents prior to a meeting. Parents should never show up to a meeting without understanding the purpose of a meeting. 9. School districts must give you written notice if it intends to change any of the child’s programs or services. School districts are obligated under the law to inform parents of any and all changes, big or small, that affect the child, in writing. Calling parents and leaving a message stating that the students ASL teacher is being 35
transferred to other school and a SEE instructor will be taking over your child’s classroom is not acceptable. 10. Get as much information, correspondence and documentation in writing. In today’s world of technology, documentation is easier than ever! Print every e-mail, save every fax, copy every note that you sign and compile them in a binder. It is the printed word, and not the spoken word, that will hold up in due process or in court. 11. If IEP services are not being provided, you can file a compliance complaint with your state department of education. This is a free service and anyone – whether it is a parent, teacher, lawyer, advocate or others – can file a complaint against the school district. This system is designed to aid and protect the child and to uphold the law. Providing the state department with all written and documented correspondence is a vital part of the process. We hope these tips will help you to feel more empowered. We ARE our children’s best advocates and our children deserve the best – never give up! Richard “Rick” Ruderman is a special education attorney and Lisalee D. Egbert, Ph.D., is a Deaf studies professor.
ASDC’s Monthly E-mail Blast
ASL and Deaf Studies Program
The ASDC monthly e-mail blast is full of information about ASDC, member news, updated conference news, book reviews, websites, and more. If you are a member and are not receiving the e-mail blast, we may not have your correct e-mail address. Please keep ASDC informed about any address or e-mail changes by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
INTERDISCIPLINARY COMPREHENSIVE PROFESSIONAL
For More Information: www.edweb.csus.edu/eds
For updates on the 2011 ASDC Conference in Frederick, MD, check www.deafchildren.org!
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Effective Partners in Education: Positive Advocacy By Cheri Dowling, Director of Advocacy In order to advocate for your child, you need to understand the importance of advocacy and partnership. Understanding the steps to effective partnerships include communication, organization and preparation so you can participate effectively in your child’s IEP or your child’s IFSP. A partnership is a relationship between two people in which each has equal status and certain independence but also some obligation to each other. Partnerships require the sharing of knowledge. Each partner brings viewpoints and contributions for cooperative decision-making. A partnership has the responsibility to work together towards a specific goal – in our case, for a child’s education. Effective advocacy is not negative. It simply means to be in support of something. As parents, we are natural advocates for our children. You are your child’s first teacher and first role model, and responsible for your child’s welfare. Who better to advocate for your child’s best interests? You know your child better than anyone else. The school system is involved with your child for a few years, but you are involved with your child for life. Your child depends on your active role in planning his/her education. As the parent, you have at least two goals:
• To ensure that the school provides your child with a “free appropriate public education” that includes “specially designed instruction…to meet the [child’s] unique needs…” (20 U.S.C. §1401), and • To build a healthy working relationship with the school. Findings about parental involvement show the importance of parents being actively involved in their child’s education. • When parents are involved, children do better and go further in school, thus making the schools they go to better. • When children and parents talk regularly about school, children perform better academically. • The earlier parent involvement begins in a child’s educational process, the more powerful the effects. • Positive results of parental involvement include improved student achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored confidence among parents in their child’s schooling. • Parent involvement is more important to student success, at every grade level, than family income or education. Steps to effective advocacy are: • Communication • Organization and preparation • Participation in the IEP process 37
Effective communication is important for you as well as other team members. Because we communicate in many ways, be mindful of your body language and facial expressions as well as the body language and facial expressions of others. Be culturally sensitive with regard to communication differences. If you don’t understand, feel confused or overwhelmed, ask for clarification or assistance. An effective communication technique is assertiveness. Not everyone feels comfortable with being assertive. But assertiveness is a positive way of communicating your needs and feelings. Communicating clear information and the observations you have made of your child to the team helps to identify your views of what your child needs and will help in supporting your requests. Assertiveness is the recognition that each individual has rights. It should not be confused with aggressiveness. Assertiveness is at the heart of effective advocacy. Some characteristics of an assertive person is the willingness to disagree in order to express his/her point of view. An assertive person feels free to make choices, takes responsibility for getting his or her needs met, asks questions without fear, and uses direct eye contact. An assertive person wants to be heard and is willing to listen. An assertive person is able to ask for help, communicates a positive self-image, does not allow status to be intimidating and maintains a strong sense of self-worth and self-respect. Barriers that create adversarial 38
communication are sarcasm, criticizing and finding fault, blaming and shaming others, bullying and patronizing team members, being unwilling to listen to the opinions expressed by others, and by not speaking up or participating in the meeting. Communication Strategies • Understanding each other’s roles and responsibilities. • Respecting each other’s time and responsibilities. • Setting boundaries of how and when to exchange information. • Maintaining contact via phone, notes, e-mails and meetings. • Exchanging information in a positive way. • A mutual desire to inform, discuss and solve problems, all focused on your child’s growth and development. Communication Barriers • Failure to understand the importance of open honest communication. • Not fully understanding each other’s perspective. • Different cultural expectations of parents and teachers. • Negative or less than perfect past experiences of schooling. • Being defensive. • Hesitancy of team members to communicate too often. Remember apprehension and anxiety exist on both sides of the table. Professionals and parents can feel frustrated, angry, guilty and helpless.
One of the biggest keys to successful advocacy is bringing a positive attitude. Viewing the partnership as you would any relationship includes mutual trust. Trust is generally earned, however, some trust has to be offered in good faith to begin the relationship. Realize you have something valuable to offer and so do the other members of the team. An effective advocate is willing to listen, even when the information is contrary to what you believe.
tee that might be important to you and your child’s education.
Be prepared and organized. This is a great way to ensure that you are able to advocate effectively for your child. Remember it’s all about your child. Learn all you can about your child’s hearing loss and his/her language and communication needs. Remember your child’s strengths. Keep things on a positive level. How can your child’s strengths and interests be used to enhance his or her ability to learn? Use the knowledge and skills you already have. Stay updated on state and federal laws governing education and special education. Participate in workshops to learn your rights and your child’s rights. Become familiar with the basic terminology and acronyms used in education. Be informed about the process of special education in your school system. Talk to other parents or members of a support group. Know your community, state and national resources. Most importantly get involved, become a member of your local Citizens Advisory Committee, your local PTA, your state Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program, and any other commit-
An effective advocate needs to be organized. Keep everything that pertains to your child’s education in one place. This is a great way to save time. Store all copies and documents you receive. Occasionally save an example of your child’s work to document their accomplishments. Jot down questions or concerns that you want to ask at the next meeting or discuss with your child’s teacher. School records are important. If you would like to review your child’s school records, work with the school to set up a mutually agreed upon time. The school must respond to your request within 45 days. You can review school records at the discretion of the school system, but frequently the school personnel will want to be present to help explain the information and to assist you. You can obtain copies of these records but there may be a fee. There are many laws that regulate the privacy of records. Review your parental rights/procedural safeguards document for more information about confidentiality of information. 39
Visit www.ed.gov/policy/gen/reg/ ferpa/index for information on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law regulating educational records. Prepare for your child’s IEP meeting. The IEP supports and directs your child’s education through a team driven process. It is the document that outlines the “who” “what” “when” “why” “where” and “how” of instruction and related services that are provided for students with disabilities. • Develop and refine your vision for your child. • Make a list of all your ideas, concerns, and what your child needs to do to achieve that vision. What services do you want the school to provide to help your child reach the goals on the list? • Provide a copy of your list and the requested services, in letter format, to your child’s team leader before the IEP team meeting. Ask for copies of the documents you will be discussing and review them prior to your meeting. If you don’t understand the documents, it’s your right to ask for explanations
in terms you understand. • Ask for a copy of the proposed IEP, if available. This practice varies across the country so check with your local jurisdiction. • Review the copy before the IEP meeting. This will save time and help you to be fully prepared, with your questions ready, to actively participate in your child’s IEP. Draft IEP’s are only for preparation. Decisions are not made until the IEP team has discussed each point at the IEP team meeting. At the IEP meeting, being prepared and organized gives you a good foundation. • Be prompt for the IEP meeting. If appropriate, have your child attend and invite professionals who know your child. • Be sure there is enough time set aside for the meeting to address the issues. • Remember you have the right to invite anyone that can help provide insight or has knowledge about your child to the IEP meeting. Bring a family member or another parent for moral support, this person can take notes and discuss the meeting with you. • Prioritizing your concerns or ideas and staying positive, even when you feel perhaps others on the team are not, will help the IEP process in the long run. • Refocusing the discussion back to your child
can be very helpful if the discussion gets off track. • Be specific as possible about your child’s abilities and needs. • Most importantly stick with the issues at hand and remember the purpose of the meeting is your child’s education. • Always remember to ask questions. • Remain as friendly as possible and separate people from problems. • Request a second meeting if unable to address all areas of concern. During the school year, if you feel the school is not following the IEP, speak up. Start by talking to your child’s teacher or the case manager, then the school administrator. If needed contact the Director of Special Education.
Follow your parental rights/procedural safeguards regarding resolving disagreements. Remember you can advocate positively for your child by using effective communication, effective organization and preparation, and effectively participate in the IEP process. The special education process can be a long partnership. You may be working with the IEP team for many years. Stay positive, focused and keep the lines of communication open. True partnership and advocacy is about improving the lives of our children, and ensuring that they become independent and productive citizens who belong to the community in which they live.
DID YOU KNOW? The International Association of Parents of Deaf was founded in 1967 by concerned parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. The organization changed its name in 1985 to the American Society for Deaf Children. Today:
• ASDC is the oldest national organization founded by and governed by parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. • ASDC depends solely on donations, memberships, and proceeds from conferences for operations. • ASDC’s board is a “volunteer” board with members who pay their own travel and lodging expenses for all ASDC events. • ASDC has offered 20 summer conferences to more than 6,000 parents across the United States. Become a part of this innovative organization by joining today! See membership form on page 52.
Know Your Child’s Educational Rights IMPORTANT TERMS TO KNOW Due Process Complaint: A written complaint filed by a parent or a school district involving any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement or provision of a free appropriate public education to a student with a disability. Due process complaints must be filed within two years of the matter in dispute, unless the state has set a different time limit. Due Process Hearing: A formal, quasi-legal procedure before an impartial hearing officer or administrative law judge (or panel of judges) who is not an employee of the state educational agency or school district. Both the parents and the school district present arguments and evidence. Mediation: A confidential, voluntary process that allows parties to resolve disputes without a formal due process hearing. An impartial mediator helps the parties to express their views and positions and to understand the other’s views and positions. The mediator’s role is to facilitate discussion and help parties reach an agreement – not to recommend solutions or take positions or sides. Resolution Session: A mandatory meeting that the school district must convene within 15 days of receiving the parents’ due process complaint. The resolution session includes parents, members of the IEP team relevant to the complaint, and a representative of the school district who has decisionmaking authority. If a resolution is reached to resolve the complaint, the parties execute a legally binding agreement which a party may void within three business days of the agreement’s execution. The parents and the school district may agree in writing to waive a resolution session, or agree to use the mediation process under the IDEA. State Complaint: A written complaint that can be filed by any organization or individual claiming that a school district within the state has either violated a requirement of Part B of IDEA (the part that contains all requirements regarding the delivery of special education services) or the state’s special education law or regulations. State complaints must be filed within one year of the alleged violation. A joint publication of the Advocacy Institute and The Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University School of Law. Excerpted with permission from the Advocacy Institute; the full text is at www.AdvocacyInstitute.org. 42
A Peek Behind the Curtain
Random Recommendations from an Ex-Special Education Director By Todd Reeves Like many parents, I’ve worn my share of hats, among them: father, special education director, and superintendent. Below are just a few ideas you might consider if you feel that you might be struggling with the educational program being provided to your child. They’re not by any means exhaustive and they don’t substitute for the counsel of a good advocate, but they are a few ideas that most parents might have wondered about if they’ve never had the opportunity to peak behind the curtain of the wizard in the land of special education. • Get an advocate who knows advocacy. Oftentimes parents who seek the services of an advocate are more concerned with the individual’s connection to deafness than their understanding of special education laws, regulations, and process. In my opinion, the advocate who may not have a great fund of operational knowledge regarding the storied history of the oral versus manual debate, but understands when an IEP is and isn’t “bullet-proofed,” will be more effective than the advocate who has a limited working knowledge of special education law but has a passion for all issues deaf because some distant family member was deaf. Ideally, you’d love to have the strengths of both advocates in one, but if you have to choose, I recommend selecting the advocate who may not be fluent enough to sign “special education laws,” but knows them like the back of their hand. • It never hurts to ask for an independent educational evaluation. If you believe the most recent evaluation of your child is insufficient or inaccurate, you have the right to request an independent educational evaluation at the school district’s expense. Of course, the school district then has the right to deny your request and defend their current evaluation. The worst that can happen is they’ll say “no.” I was admittedly in the minority of special education directors, but I said “yes” whenever possible for two simple reasons: 1) The quicker a parent receives a “yes” from a special education director when they might be expecting a “no,” the less likely they would ultimately bring a due process suit against the school district; and 2) Even if the parent ul43
timately brings a due process suit against the school district, it’s better to know what their expert witness will say up front than it is to be surprised at hearing. The cost of an IEE is a cheap date compared to the grand ballroom legal costs a school district must pay in a due process suit. Be open to alternatives for resolution. Even in instances when it’s clear that compensatory education is warranted for your child because the school district has failed to provide certain services specifically provided for in your child’s IEP, consider options for compensatory education beyond the specific services your child wasn’t provided. When the speech pathologist fails to begin providing service in a timely fashion, it’s fairly easy to calculate the exact number of hours that are owed the child. The issue then becomes two-fold: 1) Will a hearing officer determine that hour-for-hour services are warranted, which isn’t guaranteed, and 2) Are there other forms of compensation that might be more preferable for the child, such as assistive technology that might be used in the home? Behind every special education director is a chief financial officer who is well aware that equipment costs are typically much less expensive than labor costs. Offering up novel forms of resolution often piques the interest of someone in the district. On one occasion, I delivered a big box to the home of a student whose IEP the district somehow faulted, and he greeted me at the door exclaiming, “Dude, I’m gettin’ a Dell!” Compared to what it would have cost the school district to provide the missed educational services, it was a bargain. Some take a dim view of the practice, but successful dispute resolution is more closely associated with what is deemed agreeable than who is deemed right or wrong.
Membership Package for Schools/Organizations ASDC provides a very special membership option for schools and organizations. If your school or organization would like to join ASDC as an Educational Member, ASDC will provide your school or organization with: • A free one-year membership for all of your families • A special thank you in the next monthly e-mail blast • A special thank you in The Endeavor • A special thank you in the news section of the ASDC website • A link to your school or organizations website • Your contact information on ASDC’s Educational/Organizational Membership web page. The membership is only $250. If you would like more information, e-mail email@example.com or call (800) 942-2732. 44
Preparing for Special Education Mediation and Resolution Sessions IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles children with disabilities to a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Parents and school officials sometimes disagree on what special education services and placement a child should receive under this right. Recognizing the potential for disputes, the IDEA provides several dispute resolution mechanisms to help parents and school officials resolve differences of opinion about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to Jane R. Wettach, Clinical Professor of Law, Duke Law School and Director, Duke Chidren’s Law Clinic. Mediation can be useful even if parents are committed to choosing due process, because it can narrow the issues of disagreement and allow the parents to gain a better understanding of the school district’s position. This will help parents prepare their case if due process occurs.
Mediation: What is Special Education Mediation?
Special education mediation is a process in which a mediator helps to resolve a dispute between a parent and school district personnel over a child’s special education program. A mediator is a neutral person who will help the participants arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement. The mediator is paid
by the state education agency, so there is no cost to either the school district or the parents. Parents may request mediation at any time to attempt to resolve a dispute. Typically, mediation is attempted prior to the filing of a due process petition, but it can be requested following the filing of due process. The state education agency is required to establish and implement procedures for mediation. Legal Requirements for Mediation IDEA requires that state departments of education offer Local Educational Agencies (LEAs, generally school districts) and parents the opportunity to participate in mediation to settle any disagreements between them. [20 U.S.C. 1415(e); 34 CFR 300.506] IDEA requires state departments to: • Maintain a list of qualified mediators who are knowledgeable about special education law and trained in mediation techniques; • Compensate the mediators, so that the process is free to both parents and school districts; • Establish and implement procedures for facilitating mediation. The law also requires that mediation be voluntary on both sides. So, if a parent requests mediation, but the school district objects to it, then it will not be scheduled. Mediation must not delay a parent’s right to go forward with due process if 45
that is what the parent chooses to do, but asking for and engaging in mediation will not delay the expiration of the statute of limitations for filing due process, which is two years or other time limit set by the state. In other words, the clock for the two year period of time (or other state time limit) in which parents can file due process continues to run during any mediation. What people say in the mediation session is confidential and inadmissible as evidence in a later due process hearing or civil court — unless it was also spoken in another context where confidentiality did not apply. This might be in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, an informal conversation, or in correspondence. If the mediation results in a verbal agreement, then that agreement must be put in writing and signed by the parents and a representative of the district. An agreement reached through mediation is enforceable in court. This means that neither the parent nor the school district must go through an administrative due process hearing to have the terms enforced if there is a breach of the agreement. When Should a Parent Ask for Mediation? Mediation should be used when the issue cannot be resolved in any less formal way. Typically, mediation should not be requested until after the parent disagrees with the decision made by the IEP team on the issue in question. 46
The following types of disagreements are more amenable than others to a mediated agreement: • Need for more/different special education services or related services; • Classroom or school placement; • Compensatory services; • Eligibility for special education services; • Outcome of a manifestation determination review. Other types of disagreements, such as the following, are not as likely to be resolved through mediation: • Assignment of a student to a particular teacher or service provider; • Hiring or firing of school staff; • Assignment of a student to a particular school building, if that does not involve a change of placement; • Assignment of case management to other personnel. When Should a Parent Not Ask for Mediation? Mediation should not be requested in certain situations. For example, if the IEP team has not addressed the core
issue but could do so if it held a meeting, the parent should first request that the IEP team meet to consider the issue. In general, mediation is not useful when the issue is not timely enough to be heard at due process. If the statute of limitations has run out (two years from the disputed IEP decision, unless the state has a different time limit), school officials have no incentive to enter an agreement. Also, if either the parents or the district is firmly opposed to a compromise, or if all potential personnel have already been involved and the issue has been thoroughly explored without success, mediation is less likely to effectively resolve the dispute. If the parties reach a successful resolution, due process will be avoided. This generally is desirable, because due process is more adversarial, costly, emotionally draining, time-consuming, formal, and risky.
Resolution Sessions: What is a Resolution Session?
A resolution session is a face-to-face meeting between a parent and school district officials following the filing of a due process complaint. The resolution session is designed to give the parties the chance to settle the case before a due process hearing. Unlike mediation, which is completely optional and voluntary, resolution sessions are required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [20 USC 1415 (f)(1)(B); 34 CFR 300.510]. IDEA requires the school district to convene a resolution session within 15 days of the filing of a due process complaint. Rele-
vant members of the IEP team must be present, i.e., those who have knowledge of the issues raised in the due process complaint, as well as someone who has decision-making authority, i.e., someone who has authority to legally bind the school district. Parents also must be present. If the parent refuses to participate, the school district may ask the hearing officer to dismiss the parentâ€™s due process complaint or request an extension of the time period allowed for due process. A dismissal in these circumstances, however, would not prevent the parent from filing a new petition on the same grounds, as long as the statute of limitations has not run out on the issue. At the resolution session, the parent must present the basis for the due process complaint and the facts that support the complaint. This presentation gives the school district personnel the opportunity to understand the issues more fully and resolve the complaint without going to due process. Like mediation agreements, if a settlement agreement is reached during a resolution session, it must be memorialized in writing and is enforceable in court. The agreement is not final until three business days after it is signed, because either side can rescind it during that time. If no settlement is reached within 30 days after the filing of the due process complaint, the hearing may go forward. Although attorneys are permitted to participate in resolution sessions, the school district may have an attorney participate only if the parent brings an 47
attorney, too. The parent’s attorney may not get attorney fees from the district for participating (although the parties may discuss attorney fees and agree to the payment of attorney fees for other work done by the attorney). Discussions at a resolution session are not confidential (unlike mediation, which is confidential). Anything that anyone says in the resolution session can be mentioned in a future due process or court hearing. The parent and the school district can jointly agree to waive the resolution session and proceed to the due process hearing. The parties can agree to try mediation if they have not already done so, or they can agree to have a facilitator participate in the resolution session. (In some states, the state education agency makes facilitators available at the request of the school or parents.) Moreover, the parents are under no obligation to accept any settlement offer made to them by the school district; they may reject it and proceed to due process. If the school district fails to convene the resolution session within 15 days of receipt of the due process petition, the parent can ask the hearing officer to proceed with the due process hearing. Parents may ask for an expedited resolution session in cases involving school discipline and the results of a manifestation determination review. An expedited resolution session must be convened within seven rather than 15 days. A joint publication of the Advocacy Institute and The Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University School of Law. Excerpted with permission from the Advocacy Institute; the full text is at www.AdvocacyInstitute.org. The Advocacy Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of products, projects and services that work to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The Institute also provides public policy and legislative services to national organizations, develops and oversees projects related to special education law and policy, and produces publications that assist parents and advocates in understanding education and special education law. Learn more at www.AdvocacyInstitute.org. The Children’s Law Clinic provides free legal services to low-income children and their parents in matters relating to the rights of children in school and in certain other cases involving a child’s health or well-being. Established in 2002, the clinic is staffed by law students under the close supervision of faculty. Clinic students are trained primarily in the areas of special education and school discipline. Learn more at www.law.duke.edu/ childedlaw. 48
Invest in Our Future!
The NAD joins hands with ASDC in investing in the future of deaf and hard of hearing children National Association of the Deaf www.nad.org/join
A Blog Excerpt:
When Simple Seems Like a Dream By Mel Orr About 10 years ago What I am writing is just what I felt then. It is unique to our family and is not an attempt to judge the experiences of others. Telling exactly what was on my mind is difficult because it is such a touchy subject, but I think it is important for my son to know what was going through our minds, right or wrong. We had this idea that if the early intervention program would just allow parents the opportunity to experience American Sign Language (ASL) in a group setting with deaf adults, we all could benefit. It seemed so simple. Yet there was nothing in the system to accommodate this. There was the option of going to the charter school for ASL lessons but nothing really that modeled a fully inclusive environment for us with our kids. It feels as if I asked for my son’s IFSP to be amended a million times. Today I sat down and looked at my son’s IFSP from our second year in the system. We had a new home visit teacher who was hard of hearing and hired, in part, because of our pleas for a deaf teacher. She was awesome and a wee bit naive. We had 11 outcomes listed on our IFSP and they all were concerned with ASL and exposure to deaf adults in a group 50
setting. We had prepared the wording before the meeting so the school district would be legally obligated to comply once it was signed. Of course it was all included and signed, but of course it didn’t happen. We fought harder. The individuals involved all thought I was crazy because my son was fine; in fact, he was exceeding benchmarks for hearing kids. If he was fine, why was I fighting? He needed peers. I knew that once he grew past the stage of play that is typical for a two-year old and once he became a critical thinker, once he needed other children to learn how to enter the world, he would be at a disadvantage. I was also so frustrated that other parents were asking for help and were sent down the rabbit hole of “nonbiased support.” It was the stance of the system to not try and influence the choices of the parent, and yet that stance left the parent without any information beyond the programs set up by the schools. The programs were set up by folks who believed in a certain philosophy. It presents a biased approach and wastes a great deal of time while the parent researches and decides where to go. Parents wait and are influenced by the teach-
ers’ college backgrounds. Educators are practicing what they are taught; there were (maybe still?) not enough college programs that support ASL as a first native language. So I felt my son deserved the right to be educated by and with people who shared our philosophy of ASL as a native language. Well I could go on and on about why I still wanted change. Today My son became 12 last week. Birthdays are always such a measure of where we are. About a week prior to his birthday I asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate. He wasn’t sure. I suggested a party with some of his hearing and deaf friends. He didn’t jump at that. It turns out his deaf friends don’t like the stuff his hearing friends like. We didn’t know what to do. He decided to just invite his CODA friend for a fun outing and a sleep over. The next day his new hearing friends (ASL students who hang out with him every day at school) texted me to tell me they were planning a surprise party for him. I offered up my house and pizza; they planned the rest. It was really fun and a big surprise. After the party they all went to a musical at school. There were two interpreters, and they meant to have his silent amp on his chair, but the new sound board wasn’t set up for it. He still loved the play. The next day a teacher and mentor told me about a Commedia dell’arte play at a local university. Being currently involved a commedia play, I knew he would jump at the chance to see it. I had
a week to get interpreters. The director e-mailed me and said he was trying to figure it out and that they had never had a request like this at the theater. I expected the worst but was pleasantly surprised when they not only got two theater interpreters but the director met us at the door and walked us to our seats. He talked with my son and had the actors come introduce themselves. When it was time for the play to start they sang happy birthday...in ASL. He told me this was his best birthday ever. What hit me was there were no deaf people involved and this felt really strange. He didn’t seem to notice. I have to admit that I am a bit confused. If someone told me 10 years ago that my son would be mainstreamed full time and very happy, I would have laughed. Had someone suggested he wouldn’t be isolated but in fact very social with his hearing friends, again that would have solicited a laugh and perhaps an eye roll. I believe that because we did raise him in a bilingual/bicultural environment, he has the tools to navigate the world. He is still Deaf but it does not define him. He doesn’t want to be hearing; he celebrates Deaf culture. He also loves the rest of what life offers. He has reached an age where I don’t need to choreograph every aspect of his life. I will slowly step back and watch him succeed or fail on his terms. I will not look to the future pretending to know what will happen next, but I will fasten my seat belt and enjoy the ride! Mel Orr’s blog is at http://theotherdeaf story.blogspot.com. 51
firstname.lastname@example.org Parent Information and Referral Line: (800) 942-ASDC (2732)
MEMBERSHIP FORM Name:__________________________
Address: __________________________________________________________ City: ___________________________
Phone: Voice/TTY/Videophone Membership Type Individual memberships _______$40 per year: Individual/Family Membership _______$100 per year: Three-year Individual/Family Membership _______$5,000 one-time fee: Lifetime Membership _______First-Year Free Membership (Families with deaf or hard of hearing children are eligible for a FREE one-year membership. Just fill out this form and mail, e-mail or fax it back to us.) Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child’s Name: ___________________________________ Date of Birth: ___________________________________ Group memberships _______$250 per year: Parent Affiliate Group ( ____ Number of Parent Members) _______$125 per year: Library Membership _______$250 per year: Educational Membership _______$250 per year: Organizational Membership I would like to send more than my membership dues. Enclosed is a tax-deductible donation: $10 $25 $50 $100 _______Other Total Enclosed: $__________ Make checks payable to American Society for Deaf Children. Please charge my Visa or MasterCard: Card Number:_________________________________Expiration Date:______________ Please return to: American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002-3695 FAX: (410) 795-0965 • Phone: (800) 942-2732 • E-mail: email@example.com
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Gallaudet U N I V E R S I T Y
Gallaudet University is a bilingual, liberal arts university for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students. Our innovative, integrated General Studies Program strengthens competencies in critical thinking; language and communication; identity and culture; knowledge and inquiry; and ethics and social responsibility. These are the kinds of competencies employers seek in college graduates. More than 70% of our students complete at least one internship experience before graduation, much higher than the national average of 52%. Gallaudet also offers: • • • • • • •
Over 35 majors and specializations including a self-directed major A bachelors degree in American Sign Language/English Interpretation More than 30 graduate programs and certificates Free First Year Study Tour to Costa Rica Study Abroad and international internships Merit and need-based scholarships Division III NCAA athletics
Get In on the Gallaudet Experience. Stand Out for Life.
www.gallaudet.edu | 800 Florida Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS 800-995-0550 (tty,voice) | 866-563-8896 (video phone) firstname.lastname@example.org
WPSD 300 E. Swissvale Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15218
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Camp Hill, PA Permit No. 993
OUR CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE. Mission Statement The American Society for Deaf Children supports and educates families of deaf and hard of hearing children and advocates for high-quality programs and services. Consider joining ASDC today, and receive four issues of The Endeavor each year, discount admission to the ASDC biennial conference, access to invaluable resources from the ASDC media library, and access to speakers for your parent support group or event. You will also join forces with thousands of other families across the country, and support an organization that advocates for crucial national legislation and services for deaf and hard of hearing children. American Society for Deaf Children #2047 800 Florida Ave. NE • Washington, D.C. 20002-3695 (800) 942-2732 • email@example.com • www.deafchildren.org
American Society for Deaf Children