Support Indiana HB 1367: All Options for Children with Hearing Loss – UPDATED

January 16th, 2012 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Some important new legislation is coming to the House of the Indiana State Legislature this session: HB 1367.  This bill proposes the creation of local, independent, non-biased resource center to provide children identified with hearing loss and their parents with ALL communication options.  This is a crucial, positive change for children and families in Indiana, and we need your help to get it passed!

Currently, in Indiana, the responsibility for this initial contact with children with hearing loss resides with the Indiana School for the Deaf, a Bilingual-Bicultural institution that does NOT provide a full spectrum of communication options for children with hearing loss and their parents.  How much of a “choice” do parents have when the state is saying, “This [ISD] is what’s free, and if you want anything else (e.g. cued speech, listening and spoken language, Signed Exact English, etc.)… well, you can choose that, but you’re on your own!”  Essentially what that means is that, for all but the most well-connected and financially well-off parents, “free choice” is really no choice at all.  In addition, HB 1367 proposes some sorely needed accountability measures for ISD, a taxpayer-funded institution that, in 2009, had an abysmal 11.5% ISTEP (state standardized test) English Language Arts and Math pass rate (data HERE) and a 51.7% graduation rate in (data HERE).  Taxpayers deserve better, and, more imporantly, parents and children with hearing loss deserve better, too.


Parents know their children best, and deserve access to free, appropriate public services in their communication mode of choice.  Ultimately, this bill helps ALL children with hearing loss and their families, regardless of communication mode, by providing non-biased support, access to all options, and standards in place to improve the quality of ISD for parents who choose to send their children to that school.


How can you help?  Support HB 1367 by contacting members of the Indiana House Committee on Education.  It’s easy to do!  Click HERE for a page with their phone numbers and email addresses, as well as a sample letter that you can email or send to them, with space to add your personal story.  It will take just a few minutes of your time, and the potential impact for generations of children in Indiana is HUGE.


UPDATE (1/23/2012): Here is a quick and simple solution to contact the members of the House Education Committee.  It takes just ONE MINUTE to make a difference in a child’s life.  Just copy and paste the following email addresses:


h91@in.gov, h70@in.gov, h83@in.gov, h41@in.gov, h72@in.gov, h93@in.gov, h87@in.gov, h28@in.gov, h96@in.gov, h14@in.gov, h69@in.gov, h19@in.gov, h43@in.gov


And use the following sample email:

Dear Representative,

I am writing to encourage your SUPPORT for HB 1367.

Indiana’s status quo concerning deaf and hard of hearing education does not work effectively.  Parents must navigate multiple state agencies to get information.


Many children fail to receive the appropriate early intervention services they need, thus they enter elementary school lacking the language skills necessary to learn.  Placing professionals under one roof will prevent these students from falling through the cracks.  The independent center would be unbiased toward any particular mode of communication, and therefore serve all deaf and hard of hearing families regardless of the communication methods chosen.

HB 1367 is the result of an extensive study by the Office of Management and Budget which examined operations at the Indiana School for the Deaf and collected input from numerous stakeholders.  The existing law governing the Indiana School for the Deaf has not been updated since the 1990′s. In the last twenty years there have been significant changes in deaf education.  Earlier identification and more advanced technologies allow parents a wide variety of communication and education options. Unfortunately, under the current system, Hoosier parents do NOT have equal access to all communication options.

HB 1367 offers the opportunity to align state government to today’s environment.  I will be very disappointed if we do not take advantage of this opportunity to move Indiana forward.

Thank you very much for your consideration of HB 1367.



How important is this?  Well, if you take the time to contact the House Committee on Education, we’d like to thank you by having a giveaway of a Cochlear Implant Awareness t-shirt from our shop.  Once you’ve contacted the legislators, please leave a comment below this post.  Here’s how to enter:

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Contact the House Committee on Education to let them know that you SUPPORT HB 1367.
  2. Visit the SHOP.  Check out the Cochlear Implant Awareness t-shirt designs and pick your favorite.
  3. Leave a comment beneath this post letting us know that you contacted the legislators and which CI Awareness design you would like.
  4. You can earn an extra entry by tweeting about SUPPORT HB 1367 and make sure you include @CochlearImplant in your tweet.  Please add a comment if you tweeted about the bill.
  5. You can add another entry by blogging about this SUPPORT HB 1367.  Please add a comment if you blogged about this bill and link to the blog.
  6. You can earn an extra entry by posting about SUPPORT HB 1367 on Facebook.  Make sure you put @Cochlear Implant Online in the status and set the post to be seen by everyone.  Please add a comment if you posted on Facbeook.
  7. The winner will be announced by random number generator on Sunday, February 19th at 3PM EST.

Call, send an email, tweet, blog, and do your part.  Together, we can make a brighter future for children with hearing loss!

Written by

Elizabeth Rosenzweig MS CCC-SLP LSLS Cert. AVT is a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist. She provides auditory verbal therapy, aural rehabilitation, IEP advocacy, consultation, and LSLS mentoring for clients around the world via teletherapy. You can learn more about Elizabeth's services on her Website or Facebook.


January 17, 2012 at 4:56 am

[...] « Support Indiana HB 1367: All Options for Children with Hearing Loss [...]

January 24, 2012 at 1:41 am

I contacted the reps by email, and included our personal story.

I like the “world’s best therapist” bag :)


January 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Elizabeth, there needs to be a distinction made between the school and the outreach center. I am reviewing the center’s Outreach Resources PDF at http://www.deafhoosiers.com/Outreach/documents/OutreachResourcesManual2011-2012.pdf, and on page 6, it mentions items like audiology, developmental therapy oral deaf education specialist, and speech language pathologists. It seems that the center recognizes these accommodations among others, so I am wondering if you could please elaborate on what is really lacking. In addition, why does this require a whole new center? We are talking about up-ending the current infrastructure; can it not be improved? To reiterate, a distinction needs to be made between the school and the center. You are implying that the center’s performance is equivalent to the school’s performance when it should be measured differently.

January 29, 2012 at 12:33 am

[...] to help SUPPORT HB 1367, we’d like to enter you to win FREE CI Awareness gear.  Click HERE for details on how to enter. [...]

Grace Elizabeth

January 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I emailed the Indiana state reps as a deaf education major from St. Louis, MO because I believe that families should have the right to chose the best option for their deaf/hard-of-hearing child and be confident that they are getting the best education available :-)


January 30, 2012 at 1:41 am

SB — Though the outreach center may offer parents these services as “options,” there are no Listening and Spoken Language Specialists employed by ISD, and so, for a true Auditory-Verbal or Auditory-Oral option (not to mention Cued Speech or Signed English), parents have to go somewhere other than ISD for services. Just as I would not go to a Coca-Cola factory and expect to receive an honest opinion about Pepsi, it is similarly ludicrous to thinking that a school that is Bilingual-Bicultural in its mission could serve to offer parents equal access to all options. Data from ISD’s performance was included in this post because HB 1367 also includes accountability measures for ISD, which are sorely needed. I believe that parents and families have the right to all options, and to free, public services in those options, and I believe that those services should be excellent, as measured by accountability data. As for “upending the current infrastructure” — well, based on data, this is a broken system. Our children deserve better, and the status quo is simply unacceptable and fundamentally flawed in its ability to be unbiased for the reasons described above. Thank you for your comment.


January 30, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Options on language? I fail to see how cued or SEE would be something that a parent would know about since it is a bit outdated and not really recognized anymore. If a parent has decided to use those methods, they need to recognize that their child would need the use of an interpreter to help become successful. You have failed to mention that. No interpreter I know has studied or is fluent in any of those methods. I have yet to encounter any Deaf or H.H individual that uses those methods. In my opinion, I feel using those methods would only hurt that individual in the long run, both socially and professionally. Also, ISD shouldn’t be expected to pass with the same results on ISTEP as a hearing school should…..when English is not even their first language. (Most still don’t even understand it.) I don’t blame them either. We have some many rules that state one thing, then turn around and say the opposite. Idioms, high school students don’t even understand them. You have to understand the sign language is a visual language with its own set of rules…..quite different than English.


January 31, 2012 at 12:15 am

NA – Actually, there are still many families who use Signed English systems and Cued Speech. I’d be happy to provide you with links if you so desire. Despite your evaluation of those communication methods, parents still deserve to know ALL of their options.

If proponents of Bilingual-Bicultural education claim that students can be equally fluent in signed ASL and written English, as is the intention of Bi-Bi programs (of which ISD is one, per their website), then yes, their students should be able to pass standardized tests if Bi-Bi does what its promoters say it does. Additionally, while English certainly impacts a student’s understanding of all other subjects, it still does not account for ISD’s abysmal math scores and, even more so, does not account for its low graduation rate, as students are graduating from their Bi-Bi program, set by ISD, not the state. If “Deaf can do it, except hear” as the saying goes, I’m not seeing it in these numbers. I believe all children with hearing loss can succeed, and the organizations that serve them should be held accountable.


January 31, 2012 at 1:26 am

Im a teacher at ISD and I just want to say that while I believe a parent have every right to make choices for their young children, it is equally important that every parent has access to professionals and experts in each mode of communication and is fully informed when making those decisions. One of the biggest impacts this bill could have is a loss of many highly educated professionals in the field of Bilingual education. That is an education based on equal representation of ASL and English. Based on a history of being oppressed and controlled by a hearing government, it is very easy to fear the Deaf prospective and professionals being edged out of a government run center that houses professionals from so many organizations opposing the use of ASL as a Deaf child’s first language. This is the greatest fear. That parents will no longer hear the voice telling them that giving your child the gift of a language they can access fully from day one, is the best and most crucial step in giving them a future with confidence, opportunities and success.
As for our test scores, I know they don’t look good. But before you judge our methods, our teachers, or worst, our students, look at the statistics of how many parents don’t give their Deaf child language from day one. Many of our students had no access to true language until they arrived at our school. Some (the lucky ones) at the age of 18months, but others not until they failed in public schools using various “modes of communication” that left them missing out on academics, social opportunities, and even fluent communication with their families. I believe we do wonderful work, but it is hard to prepare a 10 year old 3rd grader for the ISTEP, when he arrived at our school as a 7 year old kindergartner that could not even communicate fluently enough with his parents to explain how he was feeling or what he did at school that day. On the other side, I have had students with both Deaf and hearing parents that have done their best to provide access to language through ASL for their children from infancy and they are achieving at rates equal to or above that of their hearing peers.
It seems crazy to me that so many parents pay money for classes or videos to teach their hearing infants ASL so they can communicate at an earlier age and with less frustration, yet many parents whose children have a hearing loss will hide sign language from their babies and force them to struggle and be frustrated all for the hope that their child might be “normal” or “just like them”.
Whatever happens with this bill, I only hope all parents with Deaf or hard-of-hearing children get every option, hear every argument and choose full access to language for their child.


January 31, 2012 at 3:06 am

Elizabeth, if what you say is true about bi-bi, then the same principals should apply to ESL students as well. A student given the choice language first (we’ll say Spanish), then introduced to English. That in turn should catch them up with the rest of the class? Ensure they pass ISTEP? Why isn’t that working very well? From my perspective, I see students that learn English later than the rest struggle to keep up and struggle to pass ISTEP as well. There are special programs to help students achieve high score and test their English abilities. Yet, I really don’t see passing numbers from them. I know there are students that work hard to get through high school and achieve, but they usually have something the rest sometimes do not get…..support at home. So, instead of attacking the schools, attack the real problem…..educating the parents. Like Stephanie said, most of the kids do not get language until they are older. At that point, its a fight to get a child in 3rd,4rth,5th grade who is still at a k level to catch up. I respect ISD and the work they have done. I believe that given the right circumstances (language, parents who is educated about the situation, support at home, and supported staff at school).


February 1, 2012 at 2:43 am

I emailed the legislators (and included my own story). I like the “Hear in all languages” shirt!

February 1, 2012 at 3:30 am

[...] enter you in a drawing for FREE CI Awareness gear (tshirts, mugs, totebags, etc.).  Click HERE to enter. What is HB 1367?  Watch this video or click HERE for more info from Hear [...]


February 1, 2012 at 3:48 am

Stephanie — thank you for sharing your perspective. Saying that moving to an unbiased outreach center will affect adults’ jobs illustrates to me a real problem in the motivation of those opposing HB 1367. HB 1367 is not about what is best for adults, or protecting the status quo of a system that is inherently unfair (I wouldn’t go to a Pepsi factory for an unbiased review of Coca Cola), it is about children. If you are confident in your school and your approach (as you should be, obviously, we should all be proud of our work and doing work we think is ethically sound), then you have nothing to fear from freedom of information and access to all options.

I agree that having students show up at your doorstep with virtually no language foundation is an incredibly difficult situation. However, I think there are real problems with selling parents on the idea of ASL when they (the parents) are far past the optimal age for language acquisition and are most likely to never acquire the fluency or depth of vocabulary they need to communicate fully with their children, and, if they do, will most certainly not learn it sufficiently AHEAD of their children, providing the advanced language model that all of us had to help us acquire language as children. For more research on parents’ sign language fluency, see HERE). How does ISD address this? As someone who is, I’m assuming, a fluent signer, you know full well that the signs in those heavily promoted DVDs are not complete language. To claim that would be claiming that English speakers communicate by saying “BALL…YELLOW…MORE…DOG.”

I resent your assertion that parents who choose a listening and spoken language approach want their children to be “normal” or “just like them.” To say that parents, who you do not even know, make choices for their children out of anything but love, REGARDLESS of the choice they choose, is incredibly hurtful. Parents are not “hiding” sign language, they are choosing a different path, as is their right. Hurtful, inflammatory statements that disrespect parents’ right to choose from ISD faculty such as yourself are extremely illustrative of the need for an unbiased outreach center unconnected to the school. Just as I refrain from assigning motivations to parents who chose a Bi-Bi approach, I ask that you are equally respectful of parents who choose otherwise. Each parent and each family has the right to choose the approach that works best for them without any outside forces condemning them or slurring their intentions.


February 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm

“As someone who is, I’m assuming, a fluent signer, you know full well that the signs in those heavily promoted DVDs are not complete language. To claim that would be claiming that English speakers communicate by saying “BALL…YELLOW…MORE…DOG.”

Please explain more on this. Not a complete language?


February 2, 2012 at 3:01 am

NA – Popular baby sign DVDs such as the “Signing Time” series are mostly single word nouns presented without any of the facial grammar, spatial orientation, or syntax (word order) that are hallmarks of actual ASL, which is a language. The DVDs teach single signs, the equivalent of someone learning English by yelling noun labels and saying they “know English.” Claiming that the popularity of these heavily advertised tapes is in any way, shape, or form a measure of success of the approach they espouse is ludicrous. The depth and breadth of these tapes are not nearly enough to provide a full language foundation to a child, let alone teach his/her parent(s) and caregiver(s) enough ASL to be an advanced model for the child.


February 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Elizabeth- While I agree that yes, it is not enough to watch those videos and say that someone has mastered that language. It is a good building block for language. It can’t be shoved down their throats. They could watch the videos, learn their ABC’s , learn some signs and with the right support (Deaf community, other signers) they can improve tremendously. Like any language you learn, DVDs alone can not teach you everything you need to know…..you have to experience it. That is what I feel ISD provides. Look at students learning French, Spanish, German in H.S. They take it for 4 years. Watch videos and work through workbooks for their building block. Those with the passion will continue. They will go to the country, talk to the locals, build and broaden their language from hands on experience. ASL courses in college do the same thing. Provide vocab first and build off of it.