Action: Please send an email to the members of the Virginia House Education Committee TODAY by close of business!
I am writing to express my objections to HB 1873:
1. The requirements of this bill are redundant and unnecessary. The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, already provide a proven and effective framework through which assessment, team goal development (family/ educators/specialists), tailored instruction and re-evaluation take place. Virginia Department of Education’ Guidelines for Working with Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Virginia Public Schools supplement the IDEA procedures to ensure effective implementation.
2. The cost of duplicating the federal funded IDEA requirements with the proposed HB 1873 provisions would take away critical funding from the effective programs already in place.
3. The requirements for proposed committee members are not representative of the deaf education system in Virginia. For example, at least 80% of the deaf/hard-of-hearing students in Virginia use English (with or without manual supplement) as their primary mode of communication, yet 7 of 13 proposed committee members must use ASL. While fewer than 30% of the state’s professionals in fields related to deaf education are deaf, 7 of 13 proposed committee members must be deaf. Additionally, it is a widely accepted statistic (cited in VDOE Guidelines for Working with Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Virginia Public Schools) that 90-95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, so it is highly probable that parent representatives on the committee would be hearing. This further reduces the likelihood of participation by hearing Deaf-Ed professionals, perpetuating extremely skewed representation.
4. I am concerned that the bill is based on the LEAD-K agenda, which does not reflect the needs of the preponderance of families with deaf/hard-of-hearing children in Virginia. For 90-95 percent of families with deaf children, American Sign Language is not the language of the home. The LEAD-K agenda to require use of ASL violates the parents’ rights under IDEA to choose their deaf child’s communication modality.
5. As a parent of a child who has been successful in a Cued Speech program, I am also concerned that all “interested parties” have not had their say regarding this proposal. I hope that further consideration of this legislation will be accompanied by widespread dissemination of public information regarding the proposals under consideration.
Please do not pass this bill!