FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Communication Plans for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
In May of 1996, Colorado State Law 96-1041, the Deaf Child's Bill of Rights, was enacted which requires IEP teams in the state of Colorado to consider the communication needs of the student who is deaf or hard of hearing through the use of the "communication plan". Eight years later, this document is still being used, and there are still many questions that teams have when developing a student's communication plan. The following is a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help IEP teams develop meaningful services for deaf and hard of hearing students. Many of the communication issues presented in "The Communication Plan" require 'special consideration' by IEP teams through the mandate of the IDEA (Section 300.346(a)(2)(iv). Whether your state has a Deaf Child's Bill of Rights or a Communication Plan requirement, all IEPs nationwide for students who are deaf or hard of hearing must reflect the deliberation of special communication considerations which should be reflected in the child's IEP.
Do all students with hearing loss have to have a Communication Plan?
Yes, all students, 3-21 years of age or until high school graduation, must have Communication Plans as part of their IEPs. Students for whom hearing loss is a secondary disability or who have concomitant visual impairments are included.
How frequently must the Communication Plan be reviewed?
The Communication Plan must be reviewed annually at the IEP meeting and modified when necessary. The Communication Plan should be completed prior to the development of the IEP goals, with input from all members of the IEP team, including the parents.
How is the Communication Plan developed?
The Communication Plan is individualized for each student and results from thoughtful discussion about that student and his/her communication access, social and instructional needs. It is not a checklist. If a district or BOCES does not use the state IEP form, they must insure that all five required Communication Plan components are addressed on the form used to ensure compliance with ECEA 4.02(4) (k). Meaningful discussions of each of the five Communication Plan components will result in any necessary "Action Plans" to address relative needs. Teachers must also insure that there is meaningful correlation between the Communication Plan, the student's IEP goals and how the student functions in his/her educational environment.
How do I know that I am filling the form out correctly?
What if the parents don't use the same mode of communication as their child?
The student cannot be denied instructional opportunities based on their parents' ability to communicate.
What if a student who uses a different mode of communication than the one emphasized in our program wants to transfer to our school?
When the original law passed in 1996, there was language which stated, "nothing in this subsection (4.7) shall require a school district to expend additional resources or hire additional personnel to implement the provisions of this subsection. (HB 96-1041 Sec. 3 III (g)) Is this still true?
No. The US office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) deemed this section to be inconsistent with FAPE (free appropriate public education) under IDEA. All services determined by the IEP team to be needed for the student must be provided for by the school.
Components of the Communication Plan: Discussion Points
1. What kind of discussions should we have about "The Child's Primary Mode(s) of Communication"?
2. What about "availability of deaf/hard of hearing adult role models and peer group" of the student's communication mode"?
3. Must all educational options must be presented and explained?
4. Must teachers, interpreters, and other specialists delivering this Communication Plan have demonstrated proficiency in, and be able to accommodate for, the student's primary communication mode?
5. What does communication accessibility for academic instruction, school services, and extracurricular activities that apply to this student look like?