Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6 - A Vision for Regional Programs in KY

Those who know me are aware of my mission: to see the establishment of regional programs for the deaf and hard of hearing throughout Kentucky. This is not my idea; there have been several reports written over the past few decades that recommend the creation of such programs.

Yet, in 2015, only one such program exists in Kentucky. There was a second one in my town, but that no longer is considered a regional program.

Why do I advocate for such programs across Kentucky? I have blogged about this previously, but it comes down to a few main factors:

  1. There are numerous school districts in Kentucky that have DHH students but no DHH teacher and/or interpreter to serve those students. There is a serious shortage of DHH teachers and interpreters in Kentucky
  2. Many districts only have one or two DHH students in the entire district. This makes it extremely difficult to provide opportunities for that student to interact with other DHH students and DHH adults. This interaction is crucial for their language, social, emotional, and psychological development and well-being
  3. Those districts that have several DHH students tend to allow them to attend their neighborhood school despite legal decisions that permit clustering of students. This separation increases the financial burden of a school district. 
    • When I was in the classroom, I once did a cost analysis comparing the costs of having each of my students transported to my school where the interpreter, aide, and myself all worked with the students. I compared this to the cost if each student went to their neighborhood school where a sign language interpreter would need to be hired for each student, plus there would be travel expenses for me traveling to serve each student. The difference was astonishing!
  4. DHH students have the right to be educated with their peers, other DHH children! 
  5. They have the right to free exchange of information in their primary language whether with peers or adults. 
  6. They have the right to be educated by highly qualified certified teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing.
  7. They have the right to know they are not alone in this world. All DHH children, regardless of hearing loss, communication mode, or need for special education services deserve to know that there are other kids like themselves out there!
Now is the time to dust off those reports written 15 - 20 years ago but are still valid today and to take action.

Regionalized programs are able to provide the full continuum of services required under IDEA, with the exception of attending the school for the Deaf. I contend that these programs should be extensions of the Kentucky School for the Deaf since it is overseen by the Kentucky Department of Education. This will ensure consistency in the services offered at each regional program.

Here is how the continuum could be offered at a regional program. Note that I have turned the LRE upside down as per yesterday's post.

  • Full-time special education
    • Most of the day with DHH peers in a self contained classroom
    • All content in DHH classroom, attending special area classes (PE, music etc) with the DHH class and no general education students
    •  Interact with hearing peers during lunch and recess
  • Part-time special education, part-time general education
    • Most of the day with DHH peers in a self contained classroom
    • Homeroom is the DHH self contained classroom
    • All content in DHH classroom with mainstreaming to special area classes (PE, music, library), lunch and recess with a general education class, or
    • Most content in DHH classroom with mainstreaming into general education classes for 1 or 2 content areas in which they are in the average range and have the language foundation to access information through an interpreter
  • Part-time general education, part-time special education
    • Most of the day with hearing peers or without Supplementary Aides and Services(SAS) (FM system, interpreter)
    • Homeroom is a general education classroom
    • Part time in DHH resource/self contained classroom for Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) in content areas and/or language, listening, or
    • Part time in resource classroom (special ed) for SDI in content areas and/or language, listening, or
    • Weekly to daily support from itinerant teacher for SDI (times vary from 15 minutes to a few hours)
  • Full-Time general education – not including related services
    • 100% of the day with hearing peers with or without SAS (FM system, interpreter)
    • Can also include DHH students who are on a 504 plan or recieve no services but can benefit from being in the school school as other DHH students

I propose that regional programs be created throughout Kentucky now! Our children deserve it.


  1. Aren't the regional educational co-operatives supposed to support schools, teachers and students?

  2. Yes, they do, but not like this. This concept would have classrooms of DHH students in selected schools throughout Kentucky, ideally more than one per co-operative. These would be center-based programs that provide high quality education and the supports and services all DHH students need to succeed.