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Findings of the Commission on Education of the Deaf

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Following are selected recommendations of the Commission on Education of the Deaf.

Early Identification

The Education Department, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, should issue federal guidelines to assist states in implementing improved screening procedures for each live birth. The guidelines should include the use of high-risk criteria and should delineate subsequent follow-up procedures for infants and young children considered to be at risk for hearing impairments.

Language Acquisition

The Congress and the Education Department should ensure that facilitating English language acquisition in students who are deaf (including vocal, visual, and written language) is a paramount concern guiding the implementation of exemplary practices; the establishment of program models; the determination of research priorities; the design of curricula, materials, and assessment instruments; and the provision of professional and parent training. Language acquisition should be the top priority in federally funded research.

Appropriate Education

The Education Department should provide guidelines and technical assistance to state and local educational agencies and parents to ensure that an individualized education program for a child who is deaf takes into consideration the following: severity of hearing loss and the potential for using residual hearing; academic level and learning style; communicative needs and the preferred mode of communication; linguistic, cultural, social, and emotional needs; placement preference; individual motivation; and family support.

Least Restrictive Environment

The Education Department should refocus the least restrictive environment concept by emphasizing appropriateness over least restrictive environment.

The Education Department should issue a policy statement to permit consideration in placement decisions of curriculum content and methods of curricular delivery required by the nature or severity of the child's handicapping conditions.

The Education Department should issue guidelines and standards by which school officials and parents can, in selecting the least restrictive environment, consider potential harmful effects on the child or on the quality of services which the child needs.

The Education Department should publish in the Federal Register a policy interpretation that removal from the regular classroom does not require compelling evidence.

Parents' Rights

The Education Department should issue a policy statement requiring that school personnel inform parents of all options in the continuum of alternative placements during each individualized education program conference.

Program Standards

The Education Department should encourage states to establish program standards for deaf students requiring special schools or classes.

Quality Education

The Congress should pass a "Quality in Deaf Education'' bill that would provide incentives to the states to enhance the quality of services provided to students who are deaf.

American Sign Language

The Education Department should take positive action to encourage practices under the Bilingual Education Act that seek to enhance the quality of education received by limited-English-proficiency children whose native (primary) language is American Sign Language.

Strengthening and Expanding Regional Programs

The Congress shold increase funding to strengthen each Regional Postsecondary Education Program for the Deaf by providing a broader range of educational options, including vocational and technical training, two-year junior college, and baccalaureate programs. The number of Regional Postsecondary Education Programs for the Deaf should be increased to five. The additional program should be established in the Southwest region of the United States to provide greater geographical coverage of the nation.

Comprehensive Service Centers

The Congress should establish one comprehensive service center in each of the 10 federal regions of the United States. These centers may be located in existing facilities or may be stand-alone units. The Commission further recommends that the centers be funded through a competitive bid process.

National Center On Deafness Research

The Congress should establish a National Center on Deafness Research within Gallaudet University. Present funding at Gallaudet University for research-related purposes would not necessarily be increased, but would be managed by the Center. A significant portion of the Center's research funds should be awarded competitively to other qualified research organizations.

Early Childhood

The Education Department should require state educational agencies to conduct statewide planning and implementation activities, including the establishment of program and personnel standards that specifically address the educational and psychological needs of families with young children who are deaf. Individuals working with young deaf children and their families should be professionally trained in the area of deafness and early intervention.

Elementary and Secondary Teacher Training

The Education Department should provide guidelines for states to include in their state plans such policies and procedures at least as stringent as those set by the Council on Education of the Deaf, to ensure that professionals in educational programs for students who are deaf are adequately prepared and trained.

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