Check this brief vlog AND make a comment on the Untied States Department of Education and United States Department of Health and Human Services proposed policy paper on mandating inclusion for ALL children with disabilities including deaf children. DUE BY FRIDAY (today, May 22nd).
Please voice your concerns to comment at this site: Link
Thanks Tawny Holmes of NAD for suggesting some ideas for talking points. Please use your own words and/or examples to make more powerful.
1) Deaf and hard of hearing children suffer from language deprivation when they are placed with hearing children with lack of full resources to ensure language access (qualified interpreters, teachers knowledgeable about visual aspects of bilingual learners, accessible technology like captions, flashing fire alarms)- and it would be both an impossible task and an undue burden for every early intervention environment and early childhood education classroom to provide the above simply due to deaf children being both unique in their language abilities and being a low-incidence disability group.
2) This policy statement is not needed. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act already require early childhood programs to be accessible to children with disabilities. Also, the word "inclusion" IS NOT ANYWHERE IN THE LAW- This draft guidance misinterprets the law and creates confusion.
3) Deaf and blind children have unique resources in state schools and large mainstream programs that are absolutely necessary for a majority if not all of the same children due to the access to qualified professionals who are trained and experienced in working with deaf and blind children and their families. On average, a public school teacher sees a deaf child once every 7 years- so how can teachers prepare for this occurrence, much less an early childhood program which are already provided by numerous deaf-specific programs. This policy paper will destroy those hard-working schools and programs which have worked for years to build up knowledge and expertise to ensure our deaf and blind children have the best language foundation. These programs are intentionally designed to ensure that children have full language and communication access in the school with professionals and peers.