IDEA Part B: Interpreting Services for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing

What IDEA Says

Interpreting Services are addressed under Related Services §300.34(c)(4) of the IDEA Part B Regulations.

This section is very specific in stating that these services are intended for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and not for limited English proficient (LEP) children. Note: In the Analysis of Comments and Changes discussion section of the regulations, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) clarified the requirements to provide interpreting services to students who are limited English proficient by citing other relevant references.

The regulations are written broadly by intention to encompass the many different types of services. The regulations specify oral transliteration (oral interpreting) and cued language (speech) transliteration, as well as sign language transliteration and interpreting services.
The critical components in this section are transcription services and services for children who are deaf-blind. Several examples of transcription services to include CART, C-Print, and Type Well were provided. ED referred only to "special interpreting services" for a child who is deaf and blind because of the many and varied methods.

ED, in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of the regulations declined the opportunity to specifically list American Sign Language (ASL), indicating that the general term "interpreting services" is broad enough in scope to include it. There was a discussion regarding the qualifications of interpreters. ED declined to add anything to the section citing that §300.156 provides states the opportunity to establish personnel qualifications (refer to the IDEA Part B resource on Personnel Preparation).

Implications for ASHA Members

This section broadens the more typical thinking that interpreting is the provision of sign language only. It provides the child with options based on their specific communication needs. ASHA memberss will need to have the skills, abilities, and tools to adequately assess the child's receptive communication skills and abilities in several modalities (e.g., speech reading, use of residual audition) to best advocate for the child based on their abilities. This should allow the child the most appropriate interpreting or transliteration services.

Transcription systems require the child to take advantage of the printed word in an almost real-time environment. Speech-language pathologists can assist access to this type of service as they work with children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind to improve their reading skills, vocabulary development, and language.

What ASHA Members Can Do

ASHA members need to expand their assessment protocols for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to determine their ability to use different modalities for receptive communication. Cued speech, speech reading, and the auditory recognition of running speech, as found in the classroom, become critical determinants in the provision of the optimal interpreting services. Typically, these decisions have been left to teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing. Now, the Part B regulations offer ASHA members a great opportunity for input.

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists should familiarize themselves with the different transcription systems to help determine if the child who is deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind can access them. Each system has its own benefits, and limitations, which could impact the child's success.

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