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Frequently Asked Questions

Legal Rights & Acts

  • Are there any laws are in place nationally that specifically aid deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

    There are two major U.S. laws designed to ensure equal access to education and opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • What does the ADA say?

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals against discrimination in many areas of their lives. The ADA outlines five areas (“titles”) in which people with disabilities have legal rights: employment, public services, public accommodations, telecommunications and other miscellaneous provisions. 

  • What does the ADA say about Employment?

    ADA Title I: Employment requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. 

  • What does the ADA say about State and Local laws?

    ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities requires that state and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services and activities (e.g., public education, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting and town meetings).The transportation provisions of Title II cover public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g., subways, commuter rails, Amtrak). 

  • What does the ADA say about Public Accommodations?

    “Public accommodations” include facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, retail stores, etc., as well as privately-owned transportation systems. ADA Title III: Public Accommodations requires that all new construction and modifications must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. For existing facilities, barriers to services must be removed if readily achievable. 

  • What does the ADA say about TV and Phone access?

    ADA Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

  • Is anything else covered in the ADA?

    Yes, ADA Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions contains multiple additional laws and acts adopted through the years to further strengthen ADA. Visit the ADA for more information.

  • What does the IDEA cover?

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees the right to a free and appropriate public education to infants, children and teens with disabilities (ages birth to 21 or until achieving a high school diploma) in the least restrictive environment appropriate. 

    The law specifies how schools must provide or deny services and how parents can approach school districts, as well as challenge school district recommendations.

    IDEA includes three parts: Part A, which outlines general provisions; Part B, which outlines provisions for school-aged children (ages 3 to 21), including the Individualized Education Program (IEP); and Part C, which provides for early intervention services for children ages birth to 3.

    Visit IDEA for more information, and see our section below on Educational Advocacy 

Educational Advocacy

  • What should we consider as we develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for our child?

    This downloadable IEP Checklist can be used by parents and teachers as they develop the IEP. Not every item on the checklist is required by special education regulations. Federal regulations and other information can be found here or by calling PEATC at 800-869-6782.  

  • What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP) re-evaluation, why would my child need one and what is covered?

    By law, a child with an IEP must be re-evaluated at least every three years, or earlier when appropriate. The re-evaluation serves two key purposes: 1) to ensure that the child has a continued eligibility for the IEP, and 2) to assist in the development of the IEP. Parental consent to the evaluation/re-evaluation is required unless the parent has failed to respond to repeated requests for consent. 

    According to Federal Regulation 34CFR 300.304, the criteria for IEP evaluation/re-evaluation are:

    • Parents must receive notice that describes any evaluations the school district intends to conduct. 
    • The school district must: Use a variety of assessment tools to assess functional, developmental and academic information, including information from the parents, to determine whether the child is eligible for special education and the contents of the IEP. NOTE: The school district cannot use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion. 
    • Use technically sound instruments.  

    The school district must ensure that:

    • Evaluation materials are selected so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis. 
    • The evaluation is administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication, and in the form to most likely yield accurate information regarding what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. 
    • Evaluations that are used for the purpose for the assessments are valid and reliable. 
    • Evaluations are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel and administered in accordance with the assessment’s protocol. 
    • Assessments are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those that provide a single general intelligence score. 
    • Assessments are selected to best assure that if administered to a child with impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills, they accurately reflect the child’s abilities rather than reflecting the child’s impaired skills. 
    • The child is evaluated in all areas related to the suspected disability. 
    • The evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs. 
  • We want specific accommodations in our child’s IEP, but the school district disagrees. How can we ensure these accommodations are included?

    A good place to start is by developing your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, or BATNA. A BATNA is the course of action you’ll take if the current negotiations with the school district fail and an agreement cannot be reached. A BATNA provides greater flexibility and encourages innovation over a predetermined bottom line. You can find a sample BATNA in this document that can help in Preparation for the IEP Meeting.  

    To create your BATNA:

    • Brainstorm a list of all possible alternatives for each service, accommodation or placement you would like. You may want to talk with one or more specialists during this process to help consider all of the alternatives. 
    • Chose the most promising alternatives and expand them into practical and attainable alternatives. 
    • Identify the best of the alternatives and keep it in reserve as a fall-back during the negotiation. As you identify the best options, be sure to consider the district’s alternatives – what does the district want and why? Where might they be willing to give a little? Developing your options AND those of the district is equally important in order for you to gauge the strength of your best alternative in relation to their best alternative. 
  • Last year, we agreed to an IEP with a district placement. Now, we believe a private school would better meet our child’s needs. What are our options?

    When parents come to the point where they no longer agree with the placement outlined in the IEP, they should request another IEP meeting to express their disagreement with the proposed IEP. If no changes are made to the IEP, the parents may wish to consider due process, mediation or a unilateral placement. (Unilateral placement is when parents make the decision/placement on their own without the agreement of the school district and then seek reimbursement from the school district for the cost of the placement.) Parents who elect to go to due process should retain an attorney to assist them. 

    If the parents do not wish to pursue a due process hearing or a unilateral placement, they should work closely with the school district to attempt to get the best services they can for the child. One option might be for the school district to agree to one or more consultations from the preferred private school in the area with a program that supports a listening and spoken language outcome. 

  • Is my school district required to provide transportation to my child’s special education placement?

    Transportation is a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Related services are defined as those services (including transportation) that are necessary for a child with a disability to benefit from his/her special education, distance from home notwithstanding. If necessary, the parents may need a professional to put in writing that the child requires transportation to and from school. There are a number of nuances for situations like this that tie to the particular disability and how it impacts the child. For example, where hearing loss is concerned, there may be a stronger case for transportation for a younger child when the only other option is for the child to walk to school, which might create safety issues (this is just one example). 

  • We struggle with our child’s education team. They are not using our preferred communication mode, and it is not included in the IEP. What should we do?

    Parents will want to request a meeting with the IEP team to revisit the IEP and discuss why the approach being used differs from what is in the agreed-upon IEP. In the event that the IEP does not specify a mode of communication, it would be presumed that listening and speaking English would be the default – since sign language is a separate language that would need to explicitly appear. The background, training and experience of the providers in delivering an appropriate program are very important. The parents may wish to encourage the school district to contact another school or provider that uses the approach outlined in the IEP to provide training and consultation to the school district staff. Parents may also want to ask why the mode of communication not outlined in the IEP is being utilized. Depending on the response, parents may want to take a step back to consider what the educators are saying; for example, if the child is not making the expected progress, it could be that additional strategies need to be employed – perhaps temporarily – to help the child make the desired progress. It’s important to remember that parents are not obligated to agree to an IEP imposed by the school district and should advocate for an appropriate program and placement. Should the parents continue to feel services are not appropriate for their child, the next steps would include mediation and/or a due process hearing. Parents proceeding with due process (and possibly mediation) should retain an attorney to assist them. 

  • We chose to pursue a due process hearing on behalf of our child. We lost and are now considering an appeal. Is there anything specific we should know?

    Generally, appeals are an arduous process and very difficult to win. Unless the hearing officer made an error of law, appeals are not generally successful, as great deference is given to the hearing officer’s findings of fact. The appeals process varies widely among various states, and parents who wish to pursue an appeal will need an attorney to help them navigate the laws and processes for their location and situation. 

  • We disagree with our child’s IEP and are moving to a new county for better services. What are the legal consequences?

    Under federal law, when a child transfers from one county to another within the same state, the receiving county (or school district) must implement the incoming IEP until the IEP team meets and develops their own IEP. This can be problematic when parents disagree with the previous IEP. When moving to a new county/school district, parents should indicate to the receiving county/school district that they disagree with the previous IEP and try to agree on an appropriate program. If they disagree with the new IEP, they may elect to proceed with due process. Parents proceeding with due process should retain an attorney to assist them.  

  • Our child is turning 3 and transitioning to preschool. We prefer a listening and spoken language program, but the school district recommends a Total Communication preschool. What can we do?

    It’s important to remember that the school district has an obligation to consider the child’s preferred mode of communication. Parents should ask why the school district is making this recommendation. For example, is a Total Communication program the only program they have to offer? Is the child not progressing with the current mode? Why isn’t the recommended program designed to meet this child’s individual needs? If, after considering these things, the parents still feel strongly that their child should be placed in a program that supports a listening and spoken language outcome, then they will need to assemble documentation about the appropriate services for their child, including the elements of an appropriate program that supports a listening and spoken language outcome, the importance of staff with background, training and experience in providing these services, and the significance of capitalizing on the appropriate training during this period of the child’s brain development. Parents will also need support and documentation from professionals in the field and may want to request an independent educational evaluation.  

  • Are there any legal precedents regarding listening and spoken language education for deaf and hard of hearing students?

    Yes. these two court cases may be applicable—D.D. vs. Foothills Selpa and E.N. vs. St Johns County  

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