Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Breaking: The Feds Issue Guidance on Meeting The Effective Communication Needs of Students With Disabilities

English: United States Department of Justice L...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, together with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, issued joint guidance about the rights of public elementary and secondary students with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities to effective communication. The guidance  is intended to help schools understand and comply with federal legal requirements on meeting the communication needs of students with disabilities. 

The guidance consists of the following documents which are linked here: a Dear Colleague Letter and an attachment with frequently asked questions and answers.  The agencies also provide a quick reference fact sheet.

The guidance covers when auxiliary aids and services must be provided and concludes with dispute resolution mechanisms available if parents disagree with school decisions.

If you have a child with hearing speech or vision disabilities or if your district provides services to these children, you should carefully review these documents. #specialeducationlaw


  1. This is interesting that only just now guidance like this has been agreed upon, we already have similar guidelines for other students with disabilities but I can see how students who are cognitively typically developing, but with a disability like vision impairment, deaf/heard of hearing, or with a speech disability may be in a limbo position with what they are able to get to support them in the school. I could see that many due process cases could come about because the school district is able to deny a request for support from a parent, obviously they need to prove why, but there is always a struggle for money for schools and if a parent asks for an interpreter for their student it can put a school district in a hard position. I hope that each student is able to get what they need and that the schools are able to provide it while not having to cut something else out.

  2. Unfortunately, regardless of this guidance, many students with hearing loss who need an educational interpreter to access the curriculum will continue to have an unqualified interpreter...and very likely for their entire K-12 experience. Until a "qualified interpreter" and "appropriate service" is clearly defined and mandated (interpreter certification exams and on-going supervision by an administrator who is an experienced, certified and highly qualified educational interpreter as well), that really nice person standing in the front of the room and moving his/her hands (in a way that makes little if any meaningful sense to the student but mesmerizes faculty and staff for being so beautiful, intriguing and mystical) will continue to have a job for many years to come...Especially if they are a union member. Nice try. It's not enough. I understand the value of slow and steady, but I don't see this joint guidance impacting the dozens of ineffective educational interpreters in my area - many of whom although they are not currently qualified, could drastically improve if required to do so and not protected by the hegemony of their unions.

  3. Anon and Anon,

    Thanks for your comments.