Florida Senate - 2013 SB 150 By Senator Altman 16-00145-13 2013150__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to deaf and hard-of-hearing children; 3 providing a short title; providing legislative 4 findings and purpose; encouraging certain state 5 agencies, institutions, and political subdivisions to 6 develop recommendations ensuring that the language and 7 communication needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing 8 children are addressed; requiring the purposes of the 9 act to be expeditiously implemented; requiring the 10 Department of Education to develop a communication 11 model addressing communication considerations to be 12 included in the individual education plan for deaf and 13 hard-of-hearing students; requiring the department to 14 disseminate the model to each school district and 15 provide training as it determines necessary; providing 16 an effective date. 17 18 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 19 20 Section 1. (1) SHORT TITLE.—This act may be cited as the 21 “Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children’s Educational Bill of 22 Rights.” 23 (2) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.— 24 (a) The Legislature finds that: 25 1. Hearing loss affects basic human needs, which are 26 language and communication. Without language and quality 27 communication, a child is isolated from other human beings and 28 from the exchange of knowledge essential for educational growth 29 and, therefore, cannot develop the skills required to become a 30 productive, capable adult and a full participant of society. 31 2. Children who have a hearing loss possess the same innate 32 capabilities to acquire language as any other children. They 33 communicate through a visual language/American Sign Language or 34 a spoken-written language/English. Manual systems, which do not 35 include American Sign Language, are not languages and shall be 36 used only as a tool to teach spoken English, not as a language 37 model in the classroom. American Sign Language is a formal 38 language as well as the preferred language of the signing Deaf 39 community as spoken English is the preferred language of the 40 oral deaf community. 41 3. It is this state’s policy to ensure that: 42 a. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children, like all children, 43 have quality, ongoing, and accessible communication in their 44 preferred language, both in and out of the classroom. 45 b. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children be placed in the least 46 restrictive educational environment that is appropriate for 47 their language needs and receive services based on their unique 48 communication, language, and educational needs, consistent with 49 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv) of the Individuals with 50 Disabilities Education Act. 51 c. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children be given an education 52 in which teachers, related service providers, and assessors 53 understand the unique nature of deafness; are specifically 54 trained to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing students; and can 55 communicate spontaneously and fluidly with these children in a 56 spoken-written language/English, listening and spoken 57 language/auditory-oral, or a visual language/American Sign 58 Language, which are accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing 59 children. 60 d. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children, like all children, 61 have the benefit of an education in which there is a sufficient 62 number of age-appropriate peers and adults with whom they can 63 interact and communicate in a spontaneous and fluid way. 64 e. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children receive an education 65 in which they are exposed to deaf and hard-of-hearing role 66 models in their preferred language. 67 f. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children, like all children, 68 have direct and appropriate access to all components of the 69 educational process, including recess, lunch, and 70 extracurricular, social, and athletic activities. 71 g. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children, like all children, be 72 provided with programs in which transition planning, as required 73 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, focuses 74 on their unique vocational needs. 75 h. Families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing 76 receive accurate, balanced, and complete information regarding 77 their children’s educational, language, and communication needs 78 and the available programmatic, placement, and resource options, 79 as well as access to support services and advocacy resources 80 from public and private agencies, departments, and all other 81 institutions and resources knowledgeable about hearing loss and 82 the needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. 83 (b) Given the central importance of communication to all 84 human beings, the purpose of this act is to encourage the 85 development of an educational delivery system, which is 86 language-driven and communication-driven, for children who are 87 deaf or hard of hearing in the state. 88 (3) EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS OF DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING 89 CHILDREN; DUTY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.— 90 (a) The Legislature recognizes the unique language and 91 communication needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing 92 and encourages the development of specific recommendations by 93 all state agencies, institutions, and political subdivisions 94 concerned with the early intervention, early childhood, and the 95 education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students who are in 96 kindergarten through grade 12, including the Department of 97 Education, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, and 98 the Department of Health, to ensure that: 99 1. These children have access to the same educational 100 environment that other children have in which their language and 101 communication needs are fully addressed and developed and in 102 which they have early, ongoing, and quality access to planned 103 and incidental communication opportunities. 104 2. The purposes of this act are expeditiously implemented. 105 (b) Pursuant to 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv) of the 106 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires that 107 the individual education plan team consider the unique 108 communication needs of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing 109 and the preferred language of the child, the Department of 110 Education shall develop a model addressing communication 111 considerations for students who are deaf or hard of hearing as 112 part of the individual education plan process. The department 113 shall also disseminate the model to each school district and 114 provide training as it determines necessary. 115 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013.