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Special Education Column

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Nine states have been awarded a total of $4.6 million in federal funds to develop programs aimed at helping disabled citizens gain access to the technological devices that will aid their self-sufficiency.

The grants, administered by the U.S. Education Department, are the first to be awarded under a new federal law known as the Technology-Related Assistance For Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, or P.L. 100-407.

For many disabled children and adults, technological devices such as voice synthesizers for computers to aid the blind and special telecommunications devices for the deaf are either unavailable or unaffordable. The new law provides $9 million this year to help up to 10 states develop systems to make the technology more widely available to the disabled, including school children.

The nine states receiving the first round of grants are: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Utah.

Studies have consistently shown that deaf children who have at least one deaf parent tend to attain better social and academic skills than deaf children from hearing families.

Now, ongoing research at Gallaudet University may begin to illuminate some of the reasons why.

By observing both hearing and nonhearing parents interacting with their deaf children, Gallaudet researchers have found that, in addition to consistently using sign language, deaf parents seem to be keenly aware of their children's special communication needs. A deaf mother, for example, may constantly touch her infant, as if to reassure the child that she is nearby.

"Hearing parents and teachers," the researchers conclude in a recent report on the study, "should look to deaf adults as a valuable source of information concerning both sign language and successful ways of interacting with deaf children."

The U.S. Education Department has published a new national directory of federally funded programs and research projects that focus on educating disabled infants and toddlers.

The 1988-89 Directory of Selected Early Childhood Programs includes a state-by-state listing of such programs, along with the names of the people who administer them. It also includes summaries of research in the field.

A limited number of copies of the 226-page directory are available, at no charge, from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System or nec

  • tas, which produced the publication.

The address is: nec

  • tas, CB#8040, Suite 500, ncnb Plaza, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-8040; telephone: (919) 962-2001.

The directory will also be available early next year from the Educational Resources Information Center.--dv

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