OPTION Announcement

The Common Ground Project

 The Common Ground Project is a joint effort involving leaders from OPTION Schools and the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD). Although we have different philosophies about deaf education, leaders from both organizations have come together to ensure that students who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) have appropriate educational opportunities and support services from initial identification through graduation from high school.

 The Common Ground Project has identified 12 areas of agreement --Shared Understandings--regarding services, supports and systems necessary to meet the needs of children who are D/HH and their families. The goal of this project is to work together to address these needs at the state and national levels, and to demonstrate a model of collaboration that is replicable in the field of deaf education.

The Common Ground Project

A Joint Project between CEASD and OPTION Schools

Vision Statement: All infants, children and youth who are D/HH should have the services supports and specialized providers they need to become successful as full-fledged human beings. As children and adults, they should thrive, not just survive.

Purpose: OPTION Schools and CEASD will identify areas for collaboration to help infants, children and youth who are D/HH succeed.

Goals:

A.   Become more familiar with each other’s national organization and the membership of each.

B.   Develop shared understandings leading to specific cooperative efforts based on our common interests.

C.   Advocate, educate and articulate at the federal, state and local level the shared understandings and the differences among our groups/constituents.

D.   Develop a model for working together.

E.   Identify models and strategies we can undertake to impact at the individual state levels where the need exists now.

F.    Promote family education and empowerment that is complete, accurate, and balanced, and supports parents being able to make the best decision for their child and family.

G.   Identify additional partners in this collaborative effort on behalf of all children who are D/HH and their families.

Shared Understandings

1)    One size does not fit all. The full continuum of communication choices and educational placements must exist so an appropriate program can be offered to meet each child’s needs.

2)    Children birth-to-3 and their families should have access to funded services in center-based settings where they have an opportunity to meet other families and other children who are D/HH and receive multidisciplinary services from specially qualified personnel.

3)    Children 3 – 5 and their families should have access to funded services in center-based      settings where they have an opportunity to meet other families and other children who are    D/HH and receive multidisciplinary services from specially qualified person.

4)    Qualitative and quantitative data are critical to understanding the efficacy of programs and/or services for children who are D/HH and must be collected at the program, state and national level.  Data needs to include but not be limited to demographics; language access and acquisition; literacy and academic benchmarks; cognitive ability; social/emotional development; post school outcomes; and developmental indicators.

 5)    Eligibility determinations for special education and 504 plans should take into consideration the supports the child has required (birth-3) and will require (3-21)  to develop age-appropriate language, pre-academic/academic and developmental skills, and to access the curriculum as an engaged learner/participant at the school.

 6)    IEP teams/service delivery models need to plan for the unique educational and access needs of a child/student who is D/HH, and address the whole child including academic, cognitive, social/emotional, communication, and language development components. 

 7)    It is critical to provide accurate information to federal, state and local policy makers about the diverse needs of children who are D/HH. Explore areas where we can collaborate in this effort.

8)    In order to prevent potentially lifelong developmental ramifications, a child identified as D/HH requires immediate and ongoing specialized, quality, family-centered early intervention/involvement designed to meet that child’s individual needs.

 9)    States must develop a system for empowering parents of newly-identified deaf/hard of hearing infants/toddlers/children to become informed decision-makers through provision of complete, balanced, unbiased information about their learning and whole person development needs, language acquisition, communication modalities, technology and the early intervention system. 

 10) Families with children who are D/HH need ongoing, quality opportunities to receive accurate information about  the range of language and communication needs, whole child development, educational approaches and placement options, the special education process, and the importance of the parents’ role and decision-making throughout.

 11) Children who are D/HH should not be made to fit into the program that happens to exist in their local area. The needs of the child, which are informed by the family’s desired outcomes for the child or other family circumstances, data, team input and evaluation, should drive program, services and placement. 

12) LRE has been misapplied by federal, state and local agencies.  D/HH children should receive their education and support in an environment that meets their individual needs.

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