CAD's Resources . . .

Deaf Child Bill of Rights Initiative

by Richard Morris, CAD Editor

Do you want to improve the quality of education for deaf and hard of hearing children in Connecticut? The perfect opportunity is now here! Read this now to find out how you can help us to make this goal a reality. . . .

Early evening on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, a special initiative event took place at the Governor's Mansion in Hartford where 125 parents, deaf and hard of hearing leaders and supporters of deaf and hard of hearing children were greeted by Governor Dannell Malloy.

This event, called the "Deaf Child Bill of Rights Initiative in Connecticut", was to kick off an important legislative proposal which could greatly benefit all current and future generations of deaf and hard of hearing children in CT. It is of significant worth and consequence because many different organizations serving the deaf and hard of hearing here in CT are throwing their full support behind this proposed legislation. This historic event was sponsored by HEAR Here Hartford - Chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), American School for the Deaf (ASD), and Jim & Terry Bedard, parents of a deaf son. This was also supported by Connecticut Association of the Deaf (CAD), AG Bell CT Chapter, CREC Soundbridge, Connecticut Council of Organizations Serving the Deaf (CCOSD), Hands & Voices CT Chapter, and New England Center of Hearing Rehabilitation (NECHEAR). Some of the recognizable faces seen at this event were Mr. Ed Pelletier, Executive Director of ASD, Dr. Elizabeth Cole, Director of Soundbridge, Dr. Diane Brackett, Director of NECHEAR and Mr. Chris Donovan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

At this function, attendees heard inspiring speeches given by five different presenters. They were Attorney Terry Bedard, President of Hear Here Hartford, Dr. Harvey Corson, a retired Executive Director of the American School for the Deaf, who is also the President of the Connecticut Association of the Deaf, Ms. Marion Radeen, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing students at CREC Soundbridge, Miss Caitlyn LaManna, a student with hearing loss at the Simsbury High School, and Mr. Joseph Grabarz, a former House Representative who now works for Betty Gallo & Company as a lobbyist. The major focus of their advocacy effort is to make the proposed Deaf Child Bill of Rights (DCBR) a law here in CT, thus making Connecticut the 12th state to pass it.

Analysis of 2011 Connecticut State Department of Education data for CMT and CAPT scores has shown that deaf and hard of hearing students "are significantly behind their hearing peers in reading, writing and math." To address this, the DCBR would require that "A Language & Communication Plan" be attached to every deaf and hard of hearing student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). This plan would make the IEP: (1) language & communication driven; (2) focused on deaf/hard of hearing child's unique language & communication needs, (3) effective by implementing an action plan to meet these needs. To see what a Language & Communication Plan looks like, click here DCBR Language_and_Communication_Plan*.

When asked what the Deaf Child Bill of Right means to her, Ms. Bedard said

"Even though my son is now in college and would not benefit from a Deaf Child Bill of Rights, what it means to me personally is connected to my role as a parent advocate. Time and time again, I see deaf and hard of hearing children's language and communication needs being overlooked. Deaf Child Bill of Rights would allow parents to advocate for their child's unique language and communication needs and meet those needs. I firmly believe that a Deaf Child Bill of Rights would close the wide achievement gap that currently exists for these children and pave the way for a brighter future."

Dr. Corson emphasized:

"... that we recognize the need to include children who are deaf and hard of hearing as they are often overlooked in terms of addressing their unique language and communication needs as well as recognize a wide educational achievement gap among these children compared to children who can hear.

Research and professional literature indicate that intellectual functioning of children who are deaf and hard of hearing parallels the normal distribution of intellectual functioning among children who can hear. This achievement gap is not a reflection of their intellectual ability but rather a reflection of the lack of language and communication access they experience in educational settings.

This is not a Connecticut problem; it is a national problem. Eleven states in the United States - California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas - address this issue by enacting 'Deaf Bill of Rights' legislation."

To learn more about the proposed CT Deaf Child Bill of Rights law, and understand why we badly need it here in Connecticut, please click here DCBR Deaf_Child_Bill_of_Rights_summary*.  Now is the best time for you to act because a CT legislative session will be starting on February 8th and according to one of the presenters, Terry Bedard, "Governor Malloy has recently announced the closing the achievement gap for children in Connecticut is the top priority for this legislative session" which will end on May 9th. In short, this is the perfect opportunity for us to get DCBR law passed so our deaf and hard of hearing children can have better education in the future. To take advantage of this window of opportunity, we have to act fast!

We have made it possible and easier for you to join this important educational initiative. All you have to do is to open the DCBR Instructions below and follow the steps to send/email a letter to your Senators and Representatives. For your convenience, a sample letter is provided however if you prefer to make a stronger case, you may add your own personal experience or story. Please send/email a copy to Connecticut Association of the Deaf (or one of the other organizations mentioned above) on all your letters. Also feel free to share this with your family, friends and organizations because the more the legislators hear from us, the better chance this initiative will be passed. Together we can make our deaf and hard of hearing children's lives brighter by providing them with equal communication accessibility, which they need to thrive at their schools and achieve academic excellence! Act now!

DCBR Instructions_for_Deaf_Child_Bill_of_Rights 2012*
DCBR_Sample_Letter_to_Legislators*

For more information about the proposed Deaf Child Bill of Rights or to learn more about how you can help, please contact Dr. Harvey Corson, Co-Chair at H.Corson@comcast.net or Terry Bedard, Co-Chair at tbedard40@aol.com.

*Attachments and Sample Letters provided by Ms. Terry Bedard



Organizations Serving and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

Services

Communication Advocacy Network Corporation

CAN's primary purpose is to advocate as a centralized statewide agency with auxiliary support services for deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, and persons with hearing losses, regardless of race, age, and gender and ensure those services most citizens take for granted are also accessible to those citizens who cannot hear.

Department of Rehabilitation Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

DORS serves deaf and hard of hearing persons regardless of hearing loss. Individuals, families, parents organizations, community groups, and schools will find a wealth of information about the deafness. The services are interpreting referral, counseling services and information referral.

Disabilities Network of Eastern Connecticut

DNEC provides advocacy, peer support, independent living skills training, and information and referral services to individuals with disabilities and their families living in eastern Connecticut, and works to enable individuals to live independently in the community.

LifeBridge Community Services

Individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing recognize LifeBridge Community Services as a leading provider of services such as education, case management, advocacy and sign.

Affiliations

Connecticut Council of Organizations Serving for the Deaf - Facebook

This organization represents over twenty-two (22) representatives who are delegates for their organizations, businesses, schools or state agencies. Its website is open to everyone about the activities, community events, and updates.

Social Life

Greater Hartford Club of the Deaf

To protect and promote the mutual of its members. To create a closer fellowship in order to promote the best interest of all deaf and hard of hearing person. To foster and improve recreational, social, and athletic activities.

Schools

American School for the Deaf

The ASD offers deaf and hard of hearing students ages 3-21 a full range of educational programming from pre-school through twelfth grade.

Collegiate Education for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program at Northwestern CT Community College

CEDHH assures that deaf and hard of hearing students have full access to the campus by providing a comprehensive array of support services including but not limited to: academic tutoring, advisement, placement testing, consultation and training by a staff communication specialist, sign language or oral interpreting for academic classes and co-curricular activities, notetakers for classes, live classroom captioning, counseling, and specialized remedial and developmental courses in English and mathematics. In addition, CEDHH also supports a popular student organization at NCCC: the Northwest Deaf Club.



Youth Ambassadors

Wanted: Deaf Youth Ambassadors for CT - Age between 18 and 30 years old.



Youth Leadership

CAD is proud to present the CAD Youth Leadership Program (YLP). The CAD YLP is dedicated to helping Deaf Youths to develop strong leadership skills in their community. The CAD YLP will work closely with Hear Here Hartford (HHH) and Jr. CAD on developing activities for Deaf Youths throughout the state.

The CAD YLP would like to sponsor at least 2 major events a year for Deaf Youths. More information will follow in the spring of 2012.

There are 2 national organizations called Junior NAD and Deaf Youth USA. Feel free to visit their websites: Junior NAD and Deaf Youth USA, Deaf Youth USA (Twitter).