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Free Appropriate Education for Students with Hearing Impairments

written by: Barbara•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 5/30/2009

Federal funding under IDEA requires that states provide provisions for “free appropriate education” for students with disabilities. Students with hearing impairments must be provided with resources and services that are specifically designed in the IEP.

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    What is Free Appropriate Education?

    We all know that public education is free for all students. However, for students with disabilities, a free education doesn’t necessarily mean an “appropriate” one. For students with a hearing impairment disability, under IDEA, a free appropriate education must be designed to fit the educational needs of the student. A student's specially designed IEP which is a legal contract can provide specific needs that must be implemented under IDEA.

    Hearing impaired students may need FM (frequency modulation) devices in the classroom to amplify sound, hearing aids, or even a sign language interpreter who can translate learning objectives into an equal playing field for them. Equality could mean having an additional specialized interpreter in classes where a lot of dialogue and transfer of information are being provided to students. There are other defined resources that may be individualized to support the learning acquisition of students with hearing difficulties. Providing hearing impaired students with a free appropriate education is not a philosophical debate, but a mandate to insure that school districts and school communities are in legal compliance with IDEA.

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    Specially Designed Instruction

    The definition of special education in most school communities refers to specially designed instruction that is individualized in a student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Not every special education student needs 300 hours of reading, 300 hours of math and 150 hours of behavioral modification. Students with hearing impairments may not need hours of additional academic and behavioral support, but could need related services and accommodations to help them reach their academic potential.

    Free Appropriate Education for students with disabilities is IDEAs' (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) personalized approach to insuring that students with hearing impairments have appropriate related services and accommodations that will meet their educational needs and increase their learning success. If a student with a hearing impairment needs a sign language interpreter to provide additional academic support, then under IDEA, the student should have the interpreter at a District’s expense as part of his/her IEP.