Hands & Voices Advocacy Q & A

- En Espanol -


Dear Hands & Voices Advocate,

Good Morning!! I was wondering exactly what rights I have as a parent for my daughter in the school system here.  What services is she supposed to get? The school has been great.  I just want to make sure she isn't missing out on something.  If you don't know this info, do you know where I can get it?

Thank you so much for your time.

A mom in rural Colorado

Hello Rural Mom,

Your school district is required to provide you with a copy of "Procedural Safeguards" which explain your rights as a parent.  They should have given that to you at the time of identification/eligibility, and with each written notice of your child's IEP (Individual Education Program) meetings.  You can request a copy of your rights at any time from the special education offices of your district. 

As far as your child's educational rights are concerned, your daughter has a right to benefit from a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  She is supposed to receive the services and supports detailed in her IEP.  Those services should be calculated to enable her to gain benefit of her FAPE.  They should be based on her individual needs, as opposed to what happens to be available in your school district.

That's a BIG picture explanation of her rights. The challenge for parents is to understand what our children specifically need (accommodations and/or modifications) and to know if the services provided by schools are providing the right kind of support for those individual needs.  For a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, it is reasonable to expect a year's progress in a year's time (sometimes called AYP: a year's progress).  If the child isn't showing progress, or in fact, may be experiencing digression compared to typical hearing peers, then it's time to critically examine several factors:

  • Is the IEP reasonably calculated to deliver AYP (a year's progress)?
  • Is the staff delivering IEP services proficient in your child's communication mode or method?
  • Is your child effectively accessing the communication in her world at all times?
  • If she's using amplification technology, is it working?  Do her teachers use it effectively?
  • Does your daughter have access to peers using her same communication method or mode?
  • Is your child's educational plan appropriate for her unique needs, or is your child being fit into a one-size-fits-all program?
  • Is her IEP based on established standards of a grade-level appropriate general curriculum?

This is not an exhaustive list of considerations, but your goal should be to be able to answer these questions affirmatively.

All parents should expect grade-level achievement for their deaf or hard of hearing children, unless the child has other "labels" or issues that may impact his or her ability to learn.  Parents need to know what grade-level achievement looks like.  That means they need to understand the expectations of the general education curriculum, and they need to make sure their child is accessing the general ed curriculum - not a special education or "deaf education" curriculum that does not encompass the key components of the academic standards established for each grade level.  Having IEP goals that are standards-based and measurable are critical to maintaining grade-level achievement.

For more information on educational rights and advocacy, visit our website, www.handsand voices.org, and another excellent parent advocacy website,  www.wrightslaw.com.  And know that you're asking good questions that will benefit your daughter immensely as you grow into your role as effective advocate for her.

Best of luck,
H&V Parent Advocate

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