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Creation of 10 Centers To Serve Deaf Adults Urged

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Washington--The Commission on the Education of the Deaf has called for the establishment of 10 "comprehensive service centers" around the country to help "underachieving" deaf adults become independent, working citizens.

The sweeping proposal is one of 21 draft recommendations approved by the commission during its meeting here last month. The full set of preliminary recommendations approved at that meeting will be published this week in the Federal Register.

Comments on the proposals will be accepted until mid-November, according to Pat Johanson, staff director of the commission, which was established by the Congress last year to examine the status of educational programs for deaf children and adults.

Aid for Adults

The proposal for comprehensive service centers would benefit most of the nation's deaf adults, commission members said.

"Historically, that's been an underserved population," said Ms. Johanson. "Over 50 percent of deaf adults fall into that category."

The types of services proposed for the federally funded centers include outreach, evaluation and diagnosis, medical services, counseling and guidance, work transition, job training, basic education, and job placement. In addition, according to the proposal, the centers should employ people trained to communicate in the clients' native language or mode of communication, including American Sign Language.

Other Proposals

Among its other preliminary recommendations, the commission called for:

Making research into language-acquisition and reading skills for deaf students a priority for federal research funding.

The development of "exemplary" programs at the Kendall Demon8stration School and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf--both of which are operated by Gallaudet University here--to serve a number of special populations, including under-achieving deaf students, deaf children with secondary handicaps, deaf students from non-English- speaking homes, minority students, and the parents of deaf students.

Officially recognizing American Sign Language as a legitimate language.

Providing federal funding to help states train people to work with deaf children ages 5 and under.

These represent the second round of draft recommendations approved by the commission. The first round, published on Aug. 28, discussed, among other subjects, the special-education concept of "the least restrictive environment" and how it applies to the teaching of deaf children.

The panel's final recommendations must be presented to the Congress by Feb. 4.--dv

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