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Communication Planning Guide for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Frequently Asked Questions and Guidance for Completing the Communication Plan

For whom does the Communication Plan need to be completed?

The Communication Plan should be completed for any student who is receiving special education services through an IEP and has a documented hearing loss, including Deafblind, Deaf Plus any additional disability. This includes an auditory processing disorder and conductive, sensorineural, unilateral, bilateral, or mixed hearing loss.

How is the Communication Plan developed?

The IEP team completes the Communication Plan at the IEP meeting. All team members, including parents, student, general education teacher, teacher of the deaf, educational audiologist, educational interpreter, etc., should be present and ready to share pertinent information regarding the student’s language and communication. If the student’s team does not include a teacher of the deaf or other professional with significant experience working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, it is highly recommended that such a high qualified professional be included. The Communication Plan is not a checklist, but rather a tool to promote meaningful discussions of each component, resulting in any necessary action plans to address relevant needs. The team must also ensure that there is meaningful correlation between the Communication Plan, the student’s IEP goals, and how the student functions in his/her educational environment.

How often should the Communication Plan be reviewed?

Along with the student’s IEP, the Communication Plan should be reviewed at least annually.

What if the student’s family does not use the same mode of communication as their child?

Parents and families make communication choices for their deaf or hard of hearing child; these choices do not always align with the parents’ native language. In such cases, parents and families should be given appropriate training and counseling, such as American Sign Language instruction, in order to enable them to assist in implementation of the child’s IEP. § 300.34 (c)(8)(i-iii) Students cannot be denied instructional opportunities based on their family’s ability to communicate or their language choices.

What if the student uses a different mode of communication than the one emphasized in our program?

A student’s experience with other communication modes cannot be the basis for denial of instructional opportunity. The amount of residual hearing a student has cannot be used as the basis for denial of instructional services within the parameters of eligibility guidelines per the Ohio Operating Standards. IEP teams should match students’ and families’ communication/language choices through IEP supports and services. Schools must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services so that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, the services, programs, and activities of the public school district. This means a school must match the child’s and family’s language choice (DOJ-DOE FAQ, p. 19).

The U.S Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education issued the document Frequently Asked Questions on Effective Communication for Students With Hearing, Vision, or Speech Disabilities in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools. Click here for more info.