Outreach services to parents and families of deaf and hard of hearing children are handled by the Indiana School for the Deaf, or ISD. The legislation would transfer those duties — and the funds that go with them — to a new center for deaf and hard of hearing education.
The bill’s sponsors say they want to establish a place without a bias between two significant groups within the deaf community – those who support oral learning using cochlear implants and those who support American Sign Language, or ASL, education. Christopher Mann is the father of a deaf child who has cochlear implants. He says ASL supporters have not been welcoming since he and his wife opted to give their child the implants.
“Since that time, we have been referred to by some in the ASL community as child abusers,” Mann says.
Mann says the Indiana School for the Deaf does not give equal representation to oral education and ASL learning. But ISD senior Margaret Katter says the new center will hurt, not help, students, adding she questions the motives behind the bill.
“This is about redirecting the taxpayers’ money from experts at the deaf and hard of hearing education at outreach and ISD to private contracts, likely those who helped craft this bill,” she says.
The bill is up for a vote in a Senate committee this week.