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Information Update Bulletin 92.13

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December 1992

TO: District Administrators, CESA Administrators, CHCEB Administrators, Directors of Special Education, Special Education Program Designees, and Other Interested Parties
FROM: Juanita S. Pawlisch, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent
Division for Handicapped Children and Pupil Services
SUBJECT: U.S. Department of Education Notice of Policy Guidance Regarding the Provision of Appropriate Education Services to Children Who are Deaf

On October 30, 1992, the United States Department of Education (USDOE) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Policy Guidance regarding the provision of appropriate education services to children who are deaf. In this notice, the USDOE provides guidance to state education agencies (SEA) and local education agencies (LEA) about Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as they relate to providing appropriate education services to students who are deaf. Background information and specific steps to assist SEAs and LEAs to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) for children who are deaf, based on each child's unique individual needs are provided. The notice also describes procedural safeguards which ensure that parents are informed of their rights, and about placement decisions made by LEAs.

The guidance provided focuses on the unique communication and related needs of individual children who are deaf, and emphasizes that these needs must be considered by LEAs when meeting their legal requirement to provide appropriate education services in the LRE. The notice expresses USDOE's concern that the unique individual communication and related needs of many children who are deaf have not been adequately considered in the development of their individualized education programs (IEP). This notice further stresses that that the most important consideration regarding placement decisions for children who are deaf is that they must be made on an individual basis, and be based on the unique needs of each child as reflected in the child's IEP. The following are excerpts from the Notice of Policy Guidance:

The Secretary is concerned that the least restrictive environment provisions of the IDEA and Section 504 are being interpreted, incorrectly, to require the placement of some children who are deaf in programs that may not meet the individual student's educational needs. Meeting the unique communication and related needs of a student who is deaf is a fundamental part of providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. Any setting, including a regular classroom, that prevents a child who is deaf from receiving an appropriate education that meets his or her needs, including communication needs, is not the LRE for that individual child.

The Secretary believes it is important that State and local education agencies, in developing an IEP for a child who is deaf, take into consideration such factors as:

  1. Communication needs and the child's and family's preferred mode of communication;
  2. Linguistic needs;
  3. Severity of hearing loss and potential for using residual hearing;
  4. Academic level; and
  5. Social, emotional, and cultural needs, including opportunities for peer interactions and communication.

The USDOE Notice of Policy Guidance is attached to this bulletin. You are encouraged to read it carefully. Questions regarding this bulletin and the attached Notice of Policy Guidance may be directed to Director, Special Education Team, 125 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707-7841, at 608-266-1781.