Iowa kids need language equality bill

Did you know there are approximately 430,000 individuals in Iowa who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (D/HOH) and Iowa’s D/HOH children ages 0-5 are not showing up as kindergarten-ready due to lack of language acquisition?

The Language Equality & Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) bill is in legislation (SF 2076, HF 2140) because a majority of D/HOH children are academically behind. This is a serious national education concern and some states like Iowa are beginning to address this. The Department of Education has a long way to go.

We want to clarify a couple of misperceptions. This bill does not require American Sign Language (ASL). It provides language milestone information and assessments for kids who use one or both: ASL and English (includes spoken English, written English, or English with the use of visual supplements).The bill focuses on D/HOH kids because it is the only group that has limited or no access to language growing up. The majority of them begin kindergarten way behind their pre-school peers. Thus this bill addresses language deprivation that is exceptional among D/HOH children.

This bill will encourage assessments, provide data, and supply parents resources. This will help parents make informed choices and improve the chances D/HOH children will be kindergarten ready.

The window of language development is crucial. This bill’s sitting in the education committee and needs to be passed by Friday, Feb. 16. Encourage your legislator to tell the committee to support and pass this bill as soon as possible.

LEAD-K for Iowa

Dirk Hillard

Davenport

Carly Armour

Iowa City

Robert Vizzini

Cedar Rapids

Vania Kassouf

Cedar Rapids

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