For years, the Indiana School for the Deaf or ISD was the sole state provider of counseling services for families with deaf and hard of hearing children. A new law moves those services out of the school and into a new center. But the move has also stirred a debate about the message the state should provide to parents of deaf children.
The author of the bill says it makes more sense to separate Indiana’s deaf services from the school for the deaf, which primary teaches using sign language. Rep. Cindy Noe says the state created a problem for itself when it put outreach services under the watch of ISD.
“We had them joined at the hip through a common board with a provider, the Deaf School. And that really is a conflict of interest when you have the overall conforming group having a special relationship with one of the providers,” Noe says.
Some people who support the law have also alleged the Indiana School for the Deaf advocates too heavily for sign language and does not do enough to incorporate children into the hearing community. Supporters of the school say that’s not true.
Amy Cornwell, a professor at Indiana University’s Department of Speech And Hearing Sciences says sign language should not be abandoned.
“One of the concerns was that if a child went to the school for the deaf that the School for the Deaf wouldn’t that doesn’t happen,” she says.
But Cornwell says the bill has passed and the next step is to make sure all parties are represented in the new center.