It is International Week of the Deaf! First launched in 1958, it is an annual celebration of the global Deaf Community. This worldwide celebration is held yearly during the last full week of September, the same month that the first World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf was held. This year, the theme is “Reaffirming Deaf People’s Human Rights.”
Today, we are going to highlight some of the laws and rights that apply to deaf children, particularly those of school age.
Did you know that there is a Bill of Rights for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children? Several states have provided a bill of rights for deaf children. It is a state law that recognizes the unique communication and language needs of deaf and hard of hearing children. Even though this seems like it should be without question, the law ensures that children have access to education, the ability to learn with both American Sign Language and English, and that they can fully participate in school – not just classes and education, but also social and extra-curricular activities.
If the state you live in doesn’t have a bill of rights, and you would like that to change, you can contact the National Association of the Deaf.
While only some states have the Bill of Rights, there is federal legislation for deaf or hard of hearing children in regards to their rights to education. IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act makes available free, appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is more federal legislation that requires public elementary and secondary schools provide regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is important because it has a broader definition of a disability than IDEA, thereby covering more students and making sure they get the education they deserve.
The American with Disabilities Act ensures children have access to state and local governments, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications.
Finally, LEAD-K – Language Equality & Acquisition for Deaf Kids is a newer initiative that focuses on younger deaf and hard of hearing children and making sure they are kindergarten ready by promoting access to both American Sign Language and English. Please look forward to another blog post later this week for more information about the LEAD-K initiative.
If you’d like more information about rights and laws of children, or need support, please visit the sites of these advocacy groups:
- World Federation of the Deaf
- National Association of the Deaf
- American Society for Deaf Children
- BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf
- National Cued Speech Association
- The SEE Center
- Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing