Laws, Rules, and Regulations

Various state and federal laws impact education for students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Some laws, rules, and regulations specifically address students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Many of the relevant rules and regulations are listed and explained below.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing as a Disability

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability

The IDEA Sec. 300.8(a)(1) specifically identifies a hearing impairment as a disability. The IDEA Sec. 300.8(c)(3) defines the term "deafness." The IDEA Sec. 300.8(c)(5) defines the term "hearing impairment."

Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE)

Part 1: General Provisions

R 340.1707 Hearing impairment explained; determination

The MARSE states the term "hearing impairment" is the disability category for both students who are Deaf and for students who are Hard of Hearing. The MARSE also states that the determination of a hearing impairment must be based on an initial evaluation that includes an evaluation from an audiologist and an otolaryngologist or otologist.

R 340.1710 "Speech and language impairment" defined; determination

The MARSE defines the term "speech and language." Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing could potentially be eligible for special education services under this disability category in addition to, or instead of, hearing impairment.

R 340.1714 Severe multiple impairment; determination

The MARSE outlines what types of impairments are included in the disability category of severe multiple impairment. Students with two or more of the impairments could be eligible for special education services under this disability category. Severe hearing impairment is one of the impairments listed.

R 340.1717 Deaf-blindness defined; determination

The MARSE defines the disability category "deaf-blindness," which includes the presence of a hearing impairment. Students who are determined to have deaf-blindness are eligible for special education services under this category rather than hearing impairment.

Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Sec. 300.5 Assistive technology device

The IDEA defines assistive technology device as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability." The definition includes hearing aids, but not cochlear implants.

Sec. 300.6 Assistive technology service

The IDEA defines assistive technology service as "any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device."

Sec. 300.105 Assistive technology

The IDEA states that assistive technology and assistive technology services must be provided to a student if it is part of the student's special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services.

Sec. 300.113 Routine checking of hearing aids and external components of surgically implanted medical devices

The IDEA states that public agencies are responsible for ensuring that hearing aids worn in school and the external components of a surgically implanted medical device are properly functioning.

Communication Needs

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Sec. 300.29 Native language

The IDEA clarifies that sign language can be considered the native language for a student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Sec. 300.324 Development, review, and revision of IEP

The IDEA Sec. 300.324(2)(iv) outlines requirements for the development of the IEP, which includes consideration of special factors. The IDEA specifies special factors for a student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, such as the student's language and communication needs.

Programs and Related Services

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Sec. 300.34 Related services

The IDEA identifies audiology and interpreting services as related services that, if determined necessary by the IEP team, are required to be provided. The IDEA clarifies that related services do not include the medical services for or maintenance of cochlear implants. However, students with cochlear implants are still entitled to the related services necessary for a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), as determined by the IEP team.

Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE)

Part 3: Administration of Programs and Services

R 340.1742 Programs for students with hearing impairment

The MARSE outlines some of the required parameters for programs and services for students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Sec. 300.101 Free appropriate public education

A significant issue for many students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing is when an eligible student is determined ineligible for special education because of the student's academic success. The IDEA explicitly states in Sec. 300.101(c)(1) that: "Each State must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade." A student must remain eligible if the supports and services enable the student to make progress in the general education curriculum.

Sec. 300.114 LRE requirements

The IDEA states that students should only be placed in special classes or separate schools if their disability prevents them from obtaining full access to the general education curriculum, even when using supplementary aids and services. For students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, this regulation can relate to decisions regarding placement in DHH programs or the Michigan School for the Deaf.

Sec. 300.115 Continuum of alternative placements

The IDEA requires public agencies to provide a continuum of alternative placements to meet the needs of the student for a FAPE. For students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, this includes providing aids and services that enable students to participate in the regular classroom, DHH programs, and the Michigan School for the Deaf.

U.S. Department of Education Guidance on Provision of a FAPE and LRE

The U.S. Department of Education provides guidance for state and local educational agencies to:

(1) clarify the free appropriate public education provisions of IDEA for children who are Deaf, including important factors in the determination of appropriate education for such children and the requirement that education be provided in the least restrictive environment, and (2) clarify the applicability of the procedural safeguards in placement decisions.

Stern and Bosso Letters

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) clarified the definition of least restrictive environment (LRE), and its relation to a FAPE, regarding children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in responsive letters to education agencies. The OSEP states: "Any setting that does not meet the communication and related needs of a child who is deaf does not allow for the provision of FAPE and cannot be considered the LRE for that child. Just as the IDEA requires placement in the regular educational setting when it is appropriate for the unique needs of a child who is deaf, it also requires placement outside of the regular educational setting when the child's needs cannot be met in that setting."

Evaluations

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Sec. 300.304 Evaluation procedures

Sec. 300.304(c)(1)(ii) of the IDEA requires that evaluations are administered in the student's native language. Sign language can be considered a native language for a student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Sec. 300.304(c)(4) of the IDEA requires that evaluations assess all areas related to the suspected disability, including communicative status, which is usually an appropriate area to assess for students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Personnel

Deaf Persons' Interpreters Act of 1982

The Deaf Persons' Interpreters Act of 1982 (Michigan Public Act 204) regulates the standards and use of interpreters in Michigan, including in educational settings.

Qualified Interpreter - General Rules

These rules further clarify the regulations from the Michigan Public Act 204 and other legislation.

Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE)

Part 5: Qualifications of Teachers and Other Personnel

R 340.1793a Interpreters for the Deaf

The MARSE refers to the requirements outlined in the Deaf Persons Interpreters Act of 1982 that are needed to become an interpreter for students with disabilities.

R 340.1799c Teachers of students with hearing impairment; special requirements

The MARSE outlines the requirements to become a qualified teacher to teach students with a hearing impairment.