Know Your Rights: A Guide to Education Services and Placement for Your D/HH Child


From the presentation, “Services and Placement for Children with Sensory Impairment,” by Dr. Frank Nesbit, one of Georgia Pathway’s Executive Committee members, and Dr. Elaine Thagard, both of whom work for the Georgia Department of Education.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) Eligibility: Criteria from State Rules

Eligibility is determined by “a hearing loss, whether permanent or fluctuating, that interferes with the acquisition or maintenance of auditory skills necessary for the normal development of speech, language, and academic achievement.”

What the school district requires to develop a D/HH eligibility:

  • Audiological report within one year old that includes unaided and aided pure tone testing, speech recognition levels, middle ear functioning, and a written report.
  • Otological clearance report from an MD for medical history related to the hearing loss. This is always required prior to the fitting of amplification.
  • Comprehensive educational and communication evaluation – done by the district.
  • A psychological is not REQUIRED for DHH eligibility. However, the district may suggest or recommend a psychological evaluation.

Eligibility Discussion

  • Results of evaluations for eligibility are reported and impact of disability is discussed.
  • Results guide the IEP team’s decision on any eligibility. The IEP team includes parents and educators.
  • Parents are a part of the eligibility and IEP team and have input, but they do not have the right to unilaterally make eligibility and placement decisions.

Continuum of Placements

  • The school district must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities.
  • Deficits and goals drive placement.
  • Placement is comprised of the services provided to a child and the environment in which they are delivered. It is not a school location.
  • Primary eligibility is often a factor that the team considers.

Sample Continuum of Alternative Placement Options

Start with the Child:

  • Consider the individual needs of the child.
  • Identify the least restrictive environments that enable child to access his or her education.
  1. General education setting with no accomodations
  2. General education setting with interventions (integrating motion into instruction to increase attention span)
  3. General education setting with related services accommodations (interpreter providing communication access)
  4. General education setting with supported instruction (a second adult assisting with instruction, behavior, individual needs, etc.)
  5. General education setting with co-teaching (station teaching with two teachers)
  6. General education setting with co-teaching (parallel teaching with two teachers)
  7. Special education setting (small group pull out)
  8. Special education setting (individual pull out)
  9. Community-based instruction
  10. Georgia Network for Education and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS): emotional and behavioral day program
  11. Other related services (any appropriate setting)
  12. Special education setting (special school – day school)
  13. Special education setting (special school – residential school)
  14. Special education setting (out-of-state residential treatment center)
  15. Home-based instruction

Expanded Core Curriculum

  • The body of knowledge and skills needed by students with sensory impairments due to unique disability-specific needs — the other skills needed to access the core skills.
  • The ECC should be used as a framework for assessing students, planning individual goals and providing instruction.

DHH Expanded Core Curriculum:

  • Audiology
  • Career Education
  • Communication
  • Family Education (#1 for predicting success)
  • Functional Skills for Educational Success
  • Social-Emotional Skills
  • Technology

All are focused on communication access.

IDEA’s Special Considerations for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing:

“In the development, review, and revision of an IEP…consideration of special factors:

(iv) Consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of the child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider

the language and communication needs,

opportunities for direct communication with peers and professionals in the child’s language and communication mode,

academic level,

and full range of needs including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode, and

(v) Consider whether the child requires assistive communication devices and services.” IDEA Sec. 614 (3) (B)

Assistive Devices

  • Amplification Options (hearing aids, FM systems…)
  • TTY, Flashing Fire Alarms

Communication Accommodations

  • Specialized seating arrangements
  • Obtain student’s attention prior to speaking
  • Reduce auditory distractions (background noise)
  • Reduce visual distractions
  • Enhanced speech reading conditions (avoid hands in front of face, mustaches well trimmed, no gum chewing)
  • Allow extra time for processing information
  • Repeat or rephrase information when necessary
  • Frequently check for understanding
  • Closed Captioning of films

Assistance Communication Services

  • Note taker and hard copy of classroom notes
  • Real-time Captioning

Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights

The “Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights Act” is a Georgia law requiring school systems to take into account the specific communication needs of deaf students, related services and program options in developing an IEP for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Includes considerations related to:

Communication mode, access to instruction, communication with peers, and adult role models.

Parents’ Rights:

Department of Education website with information – brochures and helpful videos

DHH Resources:

Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights

PARC – DHH Placement and Readiness Checklists

Georgia Hands and Voices

To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

6 thoughts on “Know Your Rights: A Guide to Education Services and Placement for Your D/HH Child

    • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations define “Related Services” as: “…transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. Related services also include school health services and school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training…”
      (4) Interpreting services includes—
      (i) The following, when used with respect to children who are deaf or hard of hearing: Oral transliteration services, cued language transliteration services, sign language transliteration and interpreting services, and transcription services, such as communication access real-time translation (CART), C-Print, and TypeWell; and
      (ii) Special interpreting services for children who are deaf-blind” (34 CFR § 300.34).
      The Individualized Education Program Team determines when and how related services are provided, including providing nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in the manner necessary to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in those services and activities. FN

    • When considering placement options for 3-year-olds, we should consider where most 3-year-olds are during the typical school day. A typical environment may be at a day-care center or within the home. For children who are deaf or hard of hearing, the placement Team should be very sensitive to providing communication access and language immersion. The most language-rich and language-accessible environment may not be a typical day-care center or the home. A few districts have enough students to create a class of 3 to 5 year olds who are all deaf or hard of hearing and enjoy accessible interaction with peers and adults for at least part of the school day. A more common option that we see is a non-categorical special needs preschool classroom. These classes often consist of students with any category of special education eligibility. It is common to have a variety of special needs represented in these classes (students with physical, cognitive, social-emotional and behavioral concerns, autism, some general developmental delay, etc). While this non-categorical setting is one of the most common, placement teams should consider the individual needs of each child when determining the placement and services that will enable the child to access and progress in school.

      Always feel free to contact your local administrators or me to discuss your individual circumstances and the options that are realistic. FN

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