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Bill Would Create Unified Deaf And Hearing Education Center

The General Assembly has passed a bill that transfers services from the Indiana School For the Deaf to an independent education center.

Statehouse

Photo: Dan Goldblatt (WFIU News)

Opponents say the bill doesn't account for deaf students who need special education.

The bill has been particularly controversial because of the differences in deaf learning styles. Proponents of the bill say the Indiana School for the Deaf, or ISD, has a bias toward teaching American Sign Language. They say the state should push to mainstream more deaf students so they can better adapt to an environment where oral communication is dominate.

Opponents of the bill say these claims are unfounded and worry that the new center will force students into the mainstream when they would be better off in a more specialized learning environment.

Speaking through a sign language translator, ISD Director of Instruction Kim Kause says the school doesn’t advocate for one learning style over the other.

“We have to make sure that our service provision is meeting the students’ individual needs. We look at their individual learning styles as well as their communication and language needs,” she says.

Bill co-sponsor Cindy Noe (R-Indianapolis) says the bill will provide more unbiased services to students around the state.

“What I see happening is creating a new entity where all languages, oral or visual will be given a level playing field,” Noe says.

The bill has been sent to Governor Mitch Daniels for his signature.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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