Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K)

ASHA and the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (known as LEAD-K) support efforts to ensure that children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) have a strong language foundation for success in school. While LEAD-K supports establishing advisory committees to gather existing resources and advise the state on educating children who are D/HH, ASHA supports requiring the state lead agency (or agencies) to develop a parent resource that is widely distributed and that empowers parents to be impactful members of their child’s individualized family service plan (IFSP) and individualized education program (IEP) teams required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Impact on Audiologists and SLPs

Audiologists and SLPs play critical roles in the assessment and treatment provided to young children who are D/HH. Here are some ways that LEAD-K legislation can impact you and the children you serve.

  • Most LEAD-K legislation calls for the creation of a new “advisory committee” composed primarily of individuals who are D/HH to develop resources for parents. The proposed committee makeup may or may not include audiologists or SLPs.
  • ASHA is concerned that an advisory committee such as this could impact the decision-making authority of the IFSP and IEP teams required under IDEA.
  • LEAD-K legislation often places an emphasis on American Sign Language (ASL) as the primary form of communication for children who are D/HH. ASHA supports a family’s right to decide the most appropriate language(s), communication mode(s), and education plan for their child. It is critical that the proposed advisory committee include audiologists and SLPs in order to share all possible options for parents to consider.

Stay Informed and Get Involved!

  • Read the issue brief [PDF] on ASHA’s position and advocacy strategy with decision makers.
  • Be an advocate! Review ASHA’s talking points so you know what to say on this issue.
  • Read this sample op-ed for ASHA members to submit to their local newspaper or other publication opposing LEAD-K legislation introduced in the states.
  • Review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hearing Loss in Children website.
  • Find support and resources for families with children who are D/HH on the Hands & Voices FL3 website.
  • Review ASHA's Model Bill [PDF] (Modified from LEAD-K/A.G. Bell Model Bill). ASHA’s model language, which emphasizes a parent’s right to choose the appropriate language/communication modality for their child and family, requires the state department of education or department of health (“lead agency”) to develop a comprehensive and unbiased parent resource that includes developmental milestones, appropriate assessments, and other information to assist families. The model language also requires the lead agency to distribute the resource to parents, resource centers, health centers, and education agencies and recommends that the lead agency utilize experts in the state to help develop the resource.

ASHA’s Advocacy on Lead-K

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.

See ASHA's full list of comments, letters, and testimonies.


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