Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

6 03 2009

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the United States. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

IDEA was formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act but has grown considerably since. IDEA became a federal standard by an act of Congressional adoption in 1975 but has been amended many times since. The IDEA was most recently amended in 2004, which was a significant update.

Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.

IDEA is considered to be a civil rights law. However, states are not required to participate. As an incentive and to assist states in complying with its requirements, IDEA makes funds available to states that adopt at least the minimum policies and procedures specified in the IDEA regarding the education of children with disabilities. Since its inception, all states have chosen to participate.

As of 2006, more than 6 million children in the US receive special education services through IDEA. Many U.S. states are still resistant to educating special needs children appropriately even though they continue to accept federal funding. The federal and state enforcement agencies do not use strong enforcement methods or penalties.

The definition of related services in IDEA include, but are not limited to: transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. The term also includes school health services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.

The US Department of Education, 2005 regulations that implemented IDEA states: “…to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities including children in public or private institutions or care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”
For more information, visit the IDEA website:
Article Source:
Disabled World


We need to yell

3 03 2009

Deaf school supports call for maintaining current state funding

By Vicky Wicks
For The Weekly News

Posted 3/2/09

Two advocates for deaf and hearing-impaired students met with concerned Rapid City people to pitch a plan for maintaining services currently provided by the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls.

Magnet schools are existing schools modified to add services for the deaf, Olsen said. If that approach isn’t taken, then deaf students will be scattered around the state in public schools not equipped to receive them.

Small schools will bear great expense hiring interpreters for just one or two students, and those students will be isolated if there are no other hearing impaired students, he said.

Olsen is pushing for the state Department of Education to take control of the School for the Deaf. Currently it’s under the aegis of the Board of Regents, which he said doesn’t understand that the deaf are bilingual ��” using ASL and English ��” as well as bicultural.

The Legislature should establish a commission on Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and a bill of rights for deaf children, Olsen said.

Puthoff said the school was established in 1880, nine years before South Dakota became a state.

The South Dakota Constitution provides for continuation and funding of a school for the deaf, Olsen said, and he doesn’t understand how the state can close the school without changing the Constitution.

“We need to wake up. We need to yell. We need to complain,” Olsen said.

Larry Puthoff, left, speaks about education for the deaf while Gary Olsen looks on. Puthoff and Olsen are advocates and lobbyists with the South Dakota Association for the Deaf

Larry Puthoff, left, speaks about education for the deaf while Gary Olsen looks on. Puthoff and Olsen are advocates and lobbyists with the South Dakota Association for the Deaf

The school is on Gov. Mike Rounds’ list of cuts to balance the state’s 2010 budget.

Using American Sign Language, with interpreters for those few people in the audience needing them, Gary Olsen and Larry Puthoff with the South Dakota Association for the Deaf said that if the school closes, magnet schools should be created in or near Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Pierre.

The two men, both retired from careers in education, gave their presentation at Communication Services for the Deaf on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Sign of the times

2 03 2009

ASL, a new world language option in St. Mary’s County schools, gains following in first year

Friday, Feb. 27, 2009

School for the deaf helps students blossom

26 02 2009

Article published on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Ivy Richardson of Largo, sits in her seventh-grade class at Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf in Clearwater.

CLEARWATER – Ivy Richardson came to Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf in Clearwater when she was 7. She could not spell her last name and was years behind her age group in school.

Ivy is deaf and had a hard time communicating and learning in a traditional classroom at Cross Bayou Elementary School in Pinellas Park. Now, as a seventh-grader, Ivy excels in math and loves to learn, said her mother, Stacy, of Largo.

Ivy was one of the school’s first students, and she attributes her academic success to the school. She grew up at Blossom, she signed.

Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf is one of two Montessori schools for deaf people in the United States and the only one in Florida, said Carol Downing, associate director of the school. The school is for kids ages 2 1/2 through 15 who are deaf, hard of hearing, those with cochlear implants or hearing kids who have a parent or sibling who is deaf.

“A lot of deaf schools have deaf students with hearing parents, which most of them have, but we bring in the CODAs (children of deaf adults,) the hard of hearing students, and we have kids with the cochlear implants because we know if it breaks, they’re deaf,” Downing said. “And the panic that can set in for a child who’s not ready to be deaf, everyone here is sensitive to that instead of being plunked down into a public school where no one understands the trauma of that child all of a sudden losing everything they’re dependent on, whether it’s a dead battery or a broken gizmo.”

Stacy first discovered her daughter was deaf when Ivy was about 2 years old, Stacy said. When she began public school, Stacy said Ivy felt extreme frustration because she couldn’t communicate or understand the lessons very well. Then she transferred to Blossom.

“I immediately noticed improvements in her academic progress, for here was a school that was equipped to handle her needs,” Stacy said. “Her needs include the use of effective communication, which for her is American Sign Language. I also firmly believe in the Montessori approach to teaching. Ivy’s language skills have improved immensely.”

The school was founded in 2003 by Julie Rutenberg, now director of the school. She had taken an American Sign Language interpretive

language course from Downing at St. Petersburg College and saw the need for a school when she did her contact hours with deaf kids in the public school system.

According to the Blossom literature, the Tampa Bay area is home of the fourth largest deaf concentration in the United States and 37 percent of children with minimal hearing fail at least one grade.

The teachers at Blossom all speak in both American Sign Language and spoken English. As a Montessori kid herself, Rutenberg realized the benefits deaf kids would get from the hands-on, tactile learning of the Montessori method.

In the Montessori classroom, words and concepts have physical objects that students can pick up and hold. Math is learned with beads – loose beads for 1 to 10, groups of 10 beads strung on a wire, 10 groups of 10 beads strung into a square, and 1,000 beads strung into a cube.

“If you’re deaf, then everything you learn is with your eyes,” said Maria Kadau, director of development at the school. “It’s very visual, so it’s good to enhance their visual senses with what they’re learning.”

The children up to age 6 are all in one classroom, then they go the 6- to 9-year-old classroom, then onto the 9- to 12-year-old classroom, and finally to the 12- to 15-year-old classroom. This way the younger students can learn from the older ones and the older students can help teach the younger students, Downing said. Sometimes kid speak – or kid signing – helps explain a difficult concept to a peer that finally makes it stick.

“We have the chance to let kids in the classroom feel empowered by teaching,” Downing said. “Instead of ‘Stop talking and turn around,’ it’s “I’ll give you 20 minutes with him to explain what you think that means and I’ll be back to check on you. And Ivy is really good in math, and she’s been instrumental in re-explaining something to her classmates. I’ve watched her in action and she comes up with some really funny examples and other students kind of go ‘Oh!’ and the teachers will go, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?'”

Classes have six to eight students in them, and there is lots of one-on-one time with teachers. Each day the children get a contract of what they must cover that day and then they decide when they want to learn that subject. This approach is used because kids’ brains learn different subjects better at different times of the day, Downing said, so the lessons are more effective when they are excited and ready to study that subject instead of being forced to do particular subjects at particular times.

“They make things interesting here,” Ivy signed. “Like math – you have to figure it out. And when you get frustrated, you don’t get upset. The teacher works with you one-on-one and makes you feel better about learning. I feel smarter all the time.”

Ivy said her teacher keeps her challenged and she feels a camaraderie with him because he is deaf, too. It’s wonderful that all the teachers teach in sign language so they do not have to rely on interpreters, she said. The teachers at Blossom make concepts stick, she said, and she is grateful she attends the school.

“I would be so bored (in public school,)” Ivy said, “because they don’t really have high expectations (of deaf kids) and things would be just baby easy. But at Blossom, it’s so much more challenging. I know it. And they just tell me I can be smarter and smarter and smarter.”

The hardest part of being deaf is just not being able to hear, Ivy said, and it is very hard to learn a language she has never heard. That is why it helps to learn with the Montessori method in which every word and concept has a tangible object, she said.

“When you write things down, it’s there (on the page,) but when you move things, you understand what they mean,” Ivy signed. “They have names and they’re objects and it’s related to the names, and then when you take the test and you have something you can remember. It sticks. You can pick it up and use it and put it back down and remember the name of it. And sometimes, if you think you’ve forgotten something, you can go back and remember the name of something because it is in your head. You’ve learned it with your hands, so it’s in your head.”

Ivy is full of ambition and wants to attend high school at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine and then go on to becoming either a veterinarian, nurse, scientist or an artist.

Ivy said the school has helped her family, too. There are monthly adult classes, and because of that, Ivy’s mom, grandmother and aunt have learned excellent sign language, which helps Ivy communicate with her family.

“I think this helps with respect,” Downing said. “Like Ivy’s mom – yeah, she has to learn sign language to talk to her daughter, but guess what? Her daughter has to learn English to talk to her. And as she said, it’s so hard when you can’t hear the language.”

The school also teaches social responsibility. For instance, starting in preschool, the kids decide when they want their snack, so they tell the teacher and then get their food themselves, take out a paper plate and napkin and then clean up after themselves. If they spill, they clean it up, and the students clean their own lunch room as well.

Children may enroll in the school at any age between 2 1/2 and 15 and at any time of the year, Downing said. Cost is $5,500 a year for preschool and $7,000 a year for the older students, although the actual cost is about $25,000 per year per child. As a nonprofit organization, the school relies on charitable contributions to fund the difference and other costs.

Teens Acquitted of Plotting Attack at VSDB

25 02 2009

Updated: Feb 24, 2009 01:12 PM PST

A judge has acquitted two teenaged boys accused of plotting a violent attack at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

A pair of hearing impaired students had been charged with conspiring to kill two or more people. Investigators say the targets were students and teachers at the Staunton school.

But a juvenile court judge has ruled there was not evidence that the boys actually intended to carry out the plans. A defense attorney says it was little more than an ill advised joke.


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A Mother’s Wish for Her Deaf Child

24 02 2009

Author: Paula Rosenthal

A mother of a 5 year old deaf child recently blogged glowingly about her daughter’s acceptance of her deafness. The mother asked her daughter what kind of baby she wished for when she grew up, hearing or deaf, the child answered, “Deaf!” The mom went on to say that nothing would make her happier than to see her daughter marry a deaf man and have lots of deaf babies.

It is interesting to note that this child’s parents both have normal hearing and have recently decided to have her undergo cochlear implant surgery and rehabilitation. Due to the limits of her current deaf school placement, the parents are subsequently exploring a change in her educational program, possibly to an oral deaf school. The child is becoming bilingual, learning to speak and uses American Sign Language (ASL).

Like some of the other commenters on her blog, this woman’s wish for lots of deaf babies for her daughter really threw me and I couldn’t remain silent. I commended her for teaching her young daughter to accept herself and her deafness. It is such a key component to anyone’s self-esteem. But I also cautioned her that her daughter may not always feel this way. Parents shouldn’t be surprised if there are times when their child says, “Why me?” as they grow up. It is common, particularly during the teenage years when kids feel both internal and external pressure to “fit in” with their peers.

I’ve been hearing impaired and now deaf for nearly my entire life, diagnosed with a progressive hearing losa at age 3. When my daughter’s hearing loss was diagnosed a few weeks before she turned two, my mother and I briefly cried together. It isn’t easy having a hearing loss. Whether you use sign or spoken language, hearing aids, cochlear implants or nothing at all, a deaf or hard of hearing person always has to work harder than a person with normal hearing.

Obviously, like anyone else, we can be successful at anything we want and we can lead wonderful lives. But I wouldn’t (and didn’t) wish that I had a deaf child so she could be like me. I wished for healthy children, and most thankfully, I was granted that wish. I wish the same for my daughter, that she grows up happy, fulfilled and with healthy children someday. If they’re deaf or hard of hearing, so be it, but that’s not what I wish for her or them. Whether you view hearing loss as a disability or not, wishing for children with it is the same as wishing for blind children or crippled children. A physical challenge is just that, a challenge. Why would anyone want their child or grandchildren to start life that way? Life is challenging enough. What do you think?

Lawmakers ready to sue to save Scranton State School for the Deaf

16 02 2009
Published: Saturday, February 14, 2009
When the governor proposed terminating funding for the Scranton State School for the Deaf, he did it with little research and no firm transition plan, state legislators say.

Lawmakers said the meeting proved to them what they had guessed — that the state had done little research on the only state-owned school of its kind and how cost-effective an alternative could be.

“This transition will not be smooth,” said Rep. Kevin Murphy, D-113, Scranton, adding that there is no projection of the cost per student for alternativee services. “That question has to be answered.”

Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration says the discussion and debate is all part of the “budget process.”

In Mr. Rendell’s 2009-10 budget released last week, he proposed eliminating all funding for the school, which was $7.35 million for this school year. A plan is now being developed for the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit to partner with the nonprofit Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf to provide services — likely at the 10-acre campus in the city’s Green Ridge section, which currently serves 107 students.

State Sen. Robert Mellow, D-22, the Senate Democratic minority leader, will offer an amendment to a bill that would halt the school’s closing until legislators can review results of a comprehensive study of the school.

If that doesn’t happen, Mr. Mellow said on Friday that he would go to court to “get what we need to make an intelligent decision.

“I would not hesitate for a moment to do that,” Mr. Mellow said. “I will never turn my back on them.”

Mr. Mellow said he is not “fighting closure,” but “fighting process.”

“There may be a better way to educate the children,” he said. “We just can’t spring it on them. If there’s a better way of doing it, you phase it out.”

Legislators have said they did not learn of the plan until the morning of the governor’s budget address, and school officials first learned of the plan the night before.

Michael Race, spokesman for the Department of Education, said many of the concerns of the lawmakers would be addressed over the next few months.

“All the concerns they’re expressing, that’s what the budget process is for,” Mr. Race said.

State officials have said operating the school is too expensive — about $80,000 per student — and that it can be done more efficiently. About $5 million for the transitional costs is included in the state budget.

“We’re confident that none of these kids are going to miss out on an education or not have the services they need,” Mr. Race said. “We have as much concern for these students as the lawmakers do.”

Mr. Smith said regardless of the budget process, more research was needed before the closure was proposed.

“When the governor announces his budget, this is a beginning of a long journey,” Mr. Smith said. “But at the same time, do you realize the emotions you are playing with?

“If these kids aren’t fragile enough, now you just broke them.”

School Superintendent Monita Hara, Ed.D., said she wanted to see a cost analysis to see how the services the school provides could be available at a lesser cost through another provider.

“We, at SSSD, feel that the Pennsylvania Department of Education does not present us as a viable option,” she said. “We could be the flagship school for the state.”

The lawmakers are now demanding answers — and say they are willing to take the issue to court, if needed.sc_times_trib_20090214_a_pg1_tt14deafschool_s1_2300867_top2

“How do you take a special needs child and basically throw them out and say, ‘We don’t have a plan, but we’ll get back to you?’ ” asked Rep. Ken Smith, D-112, Dunmore. “These are the kids who come to the plate with two strikes against them. We have to have an answer for them.”

At a meeting this week, legislators across the region spoke with representatives from the state Department of Education, including Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak, Ed.D., and officials from the School for the Deaf.