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Will Tells Panel She May Create Unit To Serve Needs of the Deaf

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Washington--The head of the Education Department's special-education branch told a federal panel last week that she is considering establishing a "special unit" within her office to serve the educational needs of the deaf.

Speaking before the Commission on the Education of the Deaf, Madeleine C. Will, the assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, said the unit would be "solely concerned with issues relating to deafness and communicative disorders." She said she would seek comments from parents and deaf students around the country to help determine the functions of the proposed unit.

The idea was embraced by the commission members, who voted on Sept. 30 to ask the Congress to provide "a legislative basis" for the new unit.

"The rehabilitation-services administration has, for many years, had an office of deafness and communicative disorders," pointed out Frank Bowe, the panel's chairman. But he said that office's effectiveness has been hampered by the lack of a law authorizing its existence and spelling out its duties.

The commission, which was created by the Congress last year, is holding meetings this fall on the status of deaf education. It will issue its final recommendations in February.--dv

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