2020-2022 Priorities

Achieving Equity in Deaf Education

Priority Code: 2020-EDU-02

Problem to be addressed:

Schools with larger deaf and hard of hearing enrollments often have more access to resources. Schools with smaller enrollments or students in mainstream schools most likely do not have access to the same amount of resources. Resources and information and training on things such as bilingual education, recruiting/retaining employees, instruction methods and strategies and quality extracurricular programs should be shared to benefit more schools and programs equitably.

Proposed Solution: 

The NAD will partner with CEASD and NDEC and NAD Education Advocates to explore how schools with larger enrollment numbers of deaf and hard of hearing students can share resources with smaller schools of the deaf and mainstreamed programs that may need assistance by creating a one stop place where these sites can obtain resources developed by CEASD, NDEC and NAD Education Advocates on the NAD website.

Campaign to Spotlight the Adverse Impacts of Language Deprivation

Priority Code: 2020-PUB-01

Problem to be addressed:

Systemic barriers result in Deaf and hard of hearing infants and toddlers remaining at risk for language deprivation and having inadequate exposure to appropriate American Sign Language (ASL) language models and Deaf role models at a young age. Without appropriate measures in place and the NAD, to date, failing to take a public stance and hold those reprehensibly responsible for their transgressions, professionals and organizations primarily focused on restorative hearing and Deaf children’s ability to speak continue to pass along the burden of children’s failure to acquire language by iterating, “it’s the parent’s choice.”

Proposed Solution:

The goals of this motion are two-fold:

  1. Renew the NAD’s mandate from 2012 on language deprivation, as well as renew the 2014 re-mandate due to the NAD’s failure to make sufficient progress on the 2012 mandate. 
  2. Establish a clear and public timeline for implementing strategies to achieve this priority, including model bills to be used to introduce at the federal and state levels.

By January 1, 2021, the NAD shall:

  1. Establish an ad-hoc committee of individuals with expertise in various relevant areas including legal, educational and socio- and neuro-linguistic development to carry out the deliverables associated with this priority. This committee shall report to the NAD CEO or employee(s) designated by the NAD CEO.
  2. Create and widely distribute ASL- and English-based press releases describing the reasons for pursuing this priority.
  3. Create and widely distribute a timeline implementing strategies to achieve this priority.
  4. Send a public letter to the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) demanding that AG Bell disavow Alexander Graham Bell’s statements on Deaf people and sign language.
  5. Collaborate with the State Association/Affiliate Committee (SAAC) to establish an independent ad-hoc committee, one that will consist of a combination of NAD board members and members of SAAC, to oversee and report progress on this priority to NAD members on a regular basis.

Before the next NAD Conference, the NAD shall at a minimum:

  1. Develop model state and federal legislation that would hold entities and individuals responsible for actions causing harm to Deaf and hard of hearing infants/children by way of deprivation of ASL.
  2. Develop model state and federal legislation that would require medical and audiology personnel to refer Deaf and hard of hearing infants/children and their families to ASL instruction and education prior to undertaking any medical procedure that may presume to provide hearing.
  3. Develop an ASL resource kit to distribute nationwide to healthcare and early intervention providers working with Deaf and hard of hearing children and their families.
  4. Develop and distribute standardized ASL Development Benchmarks and/or Checklists to be used by early interventionists and classroom teachers in schools across the country in evaluating progress and Kindergarten Readiness among all Deaf and hard of hearing children.
  5. Develop training modules for outreach programs, schools for the deaf, and site programs for Deaf and hard of hearing students on language deprivation and how parents and teachers can be proactive in the recognition of language deprivation and utilize strategies to combat this.

Dismantling Racism in the Deaf Community

Priority Code: 2020-PUB-03

Problem to be addressed:

Throughout the country from deaf schools, to nonprofits to state associations and other service based entities, the longstanding problem of racism has been prevalent for a long time.  It is time for NAD to develop toolkits that would be utilized as mechanisms to address diversity equity and inclusion issues within entities serving deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing communities

Proposed Solution: 

NAD would set up a task force to develop virtual toolkits and continue anti racism efforts. These toolkits would be used for State Associations and other deaf entities to help them to build a diverse membership base and to provide safe space where diversity equity and inclusion strategies will help eradicate racism within the deaf community and strengthen the deaf ecosystem for all.

Eliminating Barriers to Quality Care for Deaf Seniors

Priority Code: 2020-PUB-06

Problem to be addressed:

The current iteration of the Deaf Seniors Task Force has worked very hard the past two years and still has much more to do. The current NAD structure requires all committees and task forces to wind down as conferences approach. But because of the progress the task force has made and the fact that they have much more to do – the task force should be able to continue past the 2020 COR.

Our survey/interview results found that most people struggle with finding facilities that are fully accessible and finding caregivers that are able to communicate with them. There is no centralized resource for the caregiving profession even though most people prefer to live independently with the assistance of a caregiver.

Proposed Solution:

I would like to see that DSA and NAD continue their work with the aging issues among the deaf and senior population beyond the 2020 COR, with its current membership intact, provided they are still interested in serving on the task force. The NAD will continue the NAD Senior Citizen Task Force for as long as deemed necessary, as they will be aligned with Deaf Seniors of America (DSA), as well as State Associations.

Foster Care Bill of Rights

Priority Code: 2020-PUB-07

Problem to be addressed:

Many studies have reported that one in 1,000 children experience hearing loss during childhood. For this priority, we will define childhood as birth to age 18. With the population of children in the United States expected to reach 74.1 million children in 2020, we can expect approximately 75,000 of these children to be diagnosed with varying levels of hearing. On another note, currently 440,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States. This number fluctuates on a yearly basis. In 2018, there were approximately 690,000 children in the foster care system. If we merge these two data systems together, we can assume that approximately 444 to 690 deaf or hard of hearing children enter the foster care system on a yearly basis. This is a significant number. An example of how significant this number is the fact that Texas School for the Deaf usually averages between 550 to 600 students.

There are many government agencies who work with many deaf and hard of hearing children in many different situations. Examples of these agencies include the Department of Human Services (DHS), which can house specific services such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Child Welfare (CW), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). WIC is a supplemental nutrition program to help gain healthy children. There are many names and acronyms for Child Welfare (CW), but this agency oversees the care of children in the foster care system. The proposer of this bill is from Oregon, where we call this system the Child Welfare system. The goal of this agency is to see children in a safe environment as their parents work towards reunification. In some cases, reunification cannot happen, and the child goes up for guardianship or adoption. TANF provides families with support to take care of children, prepare for jobs, and provide support for parents to support their children.

Proposed Solution: 

For this priority, we ask the following:

  1. The Foster Care Bill of Rights will be amended to include communication needs of the child. This communication needs will be assessed by screeners in the foster care system. The child will be provided with a cultural and language broker to ensure full communication for health and safety needs of the child.
  2. Each state will recruit, develop, and manage a plan to ensure that there is a listing of caregivers who can provide ASL language support and cultural needs to all deaf and hard of hearing children in the foster care system. Even if the child themselves may not understand sign language, it is still important to have a representative who understands the emotional and cultural ramifications of this disability.
  3. The agency will recognize the child’s communication needs, and provide the child with accommodations for communication, in line with the child’s ability to receive this communication. For example, if the child has additional needs other than deafness, the appropriate method would be to provide the child with a deaf interpreter, to ensure full access in a different way. If the child is deafblind, then the appropriate example may be a tactile interpreter.
  4. Any agency worker who will be working directly with deaf and hard of hearing children must undergo sign language proficiency interview using either a Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) or the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI). If there are no agency workers, then the agency must utilize a cultural broker to attend visits, participate in meetings, and interact with the child and parents to ensure safe and appropriate approaches are utilized.
  5. Each state needs to work with agencies to identify all children with disabilities appropriately, and to obtain appropriate services for these children with disabilities. Data needs to be collected and analyzed, to ensure equitable services are provided. Data should be collected on the following: language needs, success stories, provision of services, possible outcomes, and length of time needed to address complex needs. This data must be shared and published yearly.
  6. In the case of Child Welfare, if needed, the parents of the children must show sign language proficiency and understanding of language and cultural differences in their deaf and hard of hearing children before reunification can occur. This is imperative due to the safety of the child. If the child is unable to communicate with family, or communicate about abuse, then that will continue to jeopardize the health of the child.
  7. If the child is present, regardless of parental involvement, the child must be given access to their own interpreter, and in cases where it is applicable, the deaf mentor or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) must join to ensure optimal access is given to the child to state their needs. We have oftentimes seen parents speaking for their deaf child, and this must stop.
  8. When there is a task force and/or meeting concerning children with special needs, or cases concerning specific children, there must be a stakeholder from the deaf community or the deaf school (specifically school counselors/school psychologists) on this committee, in order to raise issues concerning these deaf and hard of hearing children.
  9. Children must receive emotional/physical/mental health services separate from the parents or other caregivers, with providers and appropriate communication brokers, to ensure full access to this specific support.
  10. Provide children with legal advocates, in order for them to get their needs met.