In a November 2014 policy guidance, it was clarified that under Title II of the ADA, schools are required to ensure that communication for students who are deaf and hard of hearing are as effective as communication for others through the provision of appropriate aids and services, thereby affording an equal opportunity to obtain the same result to gain the same benefit as that provided to others and to participate in and enjoy the benefits of the district’s services, programs, and activities.
While this was a bold step reinforcing the requirement for equal access for students with hearing loss, there was no recommended means included for schools to assess the level of student access, or communication effectiveness, as compared to class peers.
In July, Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss released White Paper: Estimating the Level of Communication Effectiveness/Access, which is the result of almost a year-long iterative process with contributions by a variety of deaf education practitioners
The purpose of this White Paper was to provide recommendations to school personnel on how the level of communication effectiveness in comparison to class peers can be identified, as required per ADA, as it has been specified that student academic grades cannot be used as a measure of access.
To determine the level of communication effectiveness, appropriate assessment must occur. The teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing is typically the most qualified to be at the forefront of this assessment process. Students with hearing loss who are primarily auditory learners and those who are primarily visual learners require assessment. These assessment procedures differ. Finally, students with expressive language concerns, like Deaf visual learners, must also be assessed to ensure that their opportunity to fully participate in the classroom is equal to their class peers.
A primary goal of the White Paper was to provide practical recommendations for assessment that could be implemented by teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing, educational audiologists, and/or speech language pathologists who have specialty training and experience in working with children who are deaf/hard of hearing. It is hoped that this White Paper will become the center of discussion, inspiration, and information by individual teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing and DHH Teams across the US. Broad sharing of this document is encouraged.
How can the White Paper help YOU?
Many school administrators are still unaware of the requirements of the ADA regarding students with hearing loss. The White Paper provides you with a compact, authoritative summary of the requirements of ADA and recommendations for how these requirements can be satisfied. Keep a copy of the White Paper on your media device or in your ‘meetings folder’ so that you can easily refer to it if you are questioned about the necessity to assess the level of communication effectiveness, not just identify adverse educational affect for special education eligibility.
This document was shared with the following in July, 2017. You are encouraged to share the White Paper with your school administration and other parties who may be interested.
- Office of Civil Rights
- National Association of State Directors of Special Education
- American Speech and Hearing Association
- AG Bell
- National Association of the Deaf
- American Sign Language Teachers Association
- OPTION Schools
- American Society for Deaf Children
- Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf
- Association of College Educators – Deaf/Hard of Hearing
- Council for Exceptional Children – Division for Communicative Disabilities and Deafness
If you have a question from the field, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
NOTE: The information represents the opinion of Karen Anderson, PhD who is not an attorney. The information presented is not legal advice, may not be the most current, and is subject to change without notice.