Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) is a national effort to pass state legislation ensuring that children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) have a strong language foundation and are kindergarten-ready when they start school. ASHA has raised concerns about legislation in some states that: 1) promote the acquisition of one language over another; and/or 2) establish state committees that impose additional costly and prescriptive assessment and data collection requirements that duplicate federal requirements.
ASHA supports state legislation that:
- ensures every child who is D/HH has a functional language for kindergarten readiness;
- informs all language and communication options including, but not limited to, signed language (e.g., American Sign Language [ASL]), spoken language, cued speech, augmentative/alternative communication, or any combination of the these;
- supports a parent’s right to decide the language(s) and communication mode(s) that are best for their child and family;
- strengthens existing federal IDEA legislation that requires a comprehensive assessment and the development of an intervention plan that utilizes the full complement of qualified providers to ensure that all children who are D/HH receive the services they need to develop a strong language foundation for future academic success;
- requires the state lead agency* to create a comprehensive and balanced parent/family resource that includes existing developmental milestones, assessment information and education options for children who are D/HH and encourages the lead agency to utilize experts in the state to advise them on the creation of the resource; and
- requires the state lead agency* to distribute the parent/family resource widely to families, medical specialists/facilities, parent resource centers, early intervention and preschool programs, as well as school districts throughout the state so that families have the tools and resources they need fully participate and impact decision-making in IFSP and IEP meetings.
ASHA cannot support state legislation that:
- endorses one language over another;
- restricts parent decision making authority;
- places additional costly and duplicative requirements on states and school districts; and
- creates additional requirements (e.g., assessments, data collection, funding) for one disability over others.
*The lead agency may be the Department of Education or the Department of Health.