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School is back in session! Two new laws make a difference for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

If you have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, you know how difficult it is to ensure that your child is given all of the same opportunities as a child with normal hearing. Research has shown that in addition to the effects hearing loss has on a child’s social life, hearing loss also contributes to developmental delays.

Children who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind may be delayed in developing language and speech skills and may experience learning problems that contribute to reduced academic achievement. Furthermore, the impact on a child’s social interactions may lead to lower self-esteem and greater social isolation.

If you are the parent or guardian of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, you are likely doing all you can to advocate for your child and his or her needs. However, state programs are also available to assist you and your child in their education and academic performance. In 2019, the state of New Jersey passed two new laws aimed at improving education for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. These laws mark great progress in advancing the education of all children, regardless of their hearing ability.

The first law has two parts. It created a Working Group on Deaf Education that will work to make recommendations on early linguistic development for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. This group is within the Department of Education and consists of 12 members appointed by the commissioner of education.

The second part of this law directs the Department of Education to create a parent resource guide. This resource guide will be used with children who are deaf or hard of hearing from birth to the age of five. The parent resource guide is aimed at helping parents advocate for their children and make decisions for their child’s wellbeing.

The second law passed in 2019 is focused on establishing a “Deaf Student’s Bill of Rights.” This Bill of Rights requires school districts to recognize the rights of students who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Examples of these rights include opportunities to meet with role models who are also deaf or deaf-blind to learn advocacy skills, individualized early intervention to support the acquisition of solid language bases developed at the earliest possible age, and opportunities to meet with their peers in the classroom and during school-sponsored activities.

Together, these laws are part of an effort to provide the resources necessary to support the communications needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The addition of the parent resource guide also helps to provide children and their families with the support they need, from the earliest age possible. When families and educators work together, children can experience better results and greater success in academics, social situations, and later in life.

Legislators hope that these two laws will improve the performance and development of deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind children. Children grow both academically and socially at school, and children who are deaf or hard of hearing should not fall behind due to a lack of support or resources.

To learn more about these laws and other measures that help support the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing children, we welcome you to contact our audiologist practice today.

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