Update: Earlier I posted to this page correspondence with a mother of a child
for whom the local school district was willing to provide augmentative and
alternative communication assistance but not provide an ASL interpreter.
The family has chosen to escalate and as such have asked me to hold off on
sharing their story with the world until after things have been settled.
So, instead of the original correspondence I'll simply
provide a few key points and leave it at that for now. Thank you for
The Individualized Education Program, (IEP) mandated by
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a powerful tool to
helps assert the right of parents to be involved in and help make decisions regarding
their child's free and appropriate public education (FAPE) which is
paid for by tax dollars.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is alluring to
some school administrators in part because it is erroneously
perceived as a one-time expense: buy it once, use it until it
wears out. Which ignores the additional expense of training and
equipment maintenance or shifts it to the
parents or third party speech therapists.
should be prepared to refuse to put their signature on their
document until they are satisfied that the plan is in their
child's best interest. Be prepared to escalate.
Review "IEP" websites for the specific processes and approaches.
2. The Deaf Community is not going away any time soon. American
Sign Language classes are more popular than ever. Thousands upon
thousands of students are taking ASL each year in every large
city (and many smaller ones) throughout the United States. While
it may be true that many Deaf children are being pushed into
using Augmentative and Alternative Communication approaches -- a
large percentage of "formerly augmented Deaf" later eschew ACC
and migrate "home" to the Deaf Community as adults. Many
individuals with cochlear implants (CI's) turn off their
implants as soon as they "find" the Deaf Community and turn them
on again only to do occasional "business" with the Hearing
3. It has been my experience as a member of the
Deaf Community that we tend to accept entrants into our community who have made
the effort to learn sign language and are reasonably humble.
4. If an individual attending college
needs an interpreter the college is required by law ("ADA" and
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) to provide an
interpreter. It is usually a good idea to contact your State's
division of "Vocational Rehabilitation" -- they may be able to provide tuition
and other assistance.
5. The "best" life approach for many
individuals is a
hybrid approach of ACC and signing. Most of us (eventually)
spend time in both "worlds" (Hearing and Deaf) and thus benefit from both
technology AND signing.
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.
Technological Advancements and their Effect on Deaf Culture
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