Reader Response: TDI Forges Ties With Obama Administration

Reader Response: TDI Forges Ties With Obama Administration

By Greg Hubert

Editor: Greg Hubert (gregoryLhubert@att.net) responded to our article about TDI’s recommendations to the Obama administration with some very interesting comments about kids who need accommodations, but aren’t protected by IDEA. Here’s his letter to Claude Stout, TDI’s Executive Director. Claude thanked Mr. Hubert and forwarded this comments to the team that developed the original recommendations.

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February 2009

Here’s the original story

Hello Claude,

Thank you for your efforts to organize a report of recommendations to the Obama team. I became aware of your efforts through a story in the HOH-LD-News by Larry Sivertson.

I would be very grateful for your help to add educational recommendations for the children who have fulfilled the promise of early detection, early intervention and technology. Access to language/communication is vital for all children with hearing loss, regardless whether they have an IEP.

If children are blessed to have soared to match their hearing peers by school age, they may be receiving accommodations under Section 504 like my daughter Nicole and many other children. The needs of these children for access to language/communication are just as critical as the children served by IDEA, yet the explicit protections under the law are much weaker. Section 504 and the ADA do not yet protect the right to access language/communication, and unfortunately many school districts do not accept responsibility until there is an issue with grades (a classic failure model driven approach).

Your first bullet point under IDEA under Education describes ensuring Part C IDEA programs appropriately address language and communication needs. These needs must be addressed for all children who are deaf and hard of hearing, regardless whether they have an IEP, or Section 504 plan, or no plan at all.

ASHA’s position statement on classroom acoustics uses the terminology “academic, psychoeducational, and psychosocial development”. These words are relevant to classroom listening conditions for the auditory modality children, and these words are also highly relevant to our children’s access to language/communication regardless of modality (auditory-verbal, auditory-oral, visual-oral, visual, manual, etc.). It is more than just an issue of grades. Our children’s language development, cognitive development, and social/emotional health are directly linked to their full access to the language/communication of the classroom.

For children whose communications modality depends on audition, appropriate classroom listening conditions (acoustics) are also crucial. The ANSI standard for classroom acoustics should be incorporated into Federal funding support for school construction. Barrier-free requirements under ADA should be extended to the physical soundwaves of spoken language.

I would be so very grateful for your help in conveying these needs to the new Obama administration.