Children; services for deaf or hard of hearing. (HB676)

Introduced By

Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg) with support from co-patron Del. Dickie Bell (R-Staunton)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Children who are deaf or hard of hearing; services; advisory subcommittee. Declares it the goal of the Commonwealth that each child who is deaf or hard of hearing is (i) as linguistically ready for kindergarten as his peers who are not deaf or hard of hearing and (ii) receptively and expressively literate in English and literate in written English by the end of third grade. The bill requires each agency of the Commonwealth that is responsible for providing services to children who are deaf or hard of hearing to collaborate to provide unified and seamless services for each such child from the onset of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention process through the end of his elementary and secondary school career. The bill also establishes a 14-member Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children's Advisory Subcommittee within the Disability Commission to advise the Commission on the provision of services in the Commonwealth for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Read the Bill »


02/14/2018: In Committee


01/09/2018Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18101906D
01/09/2018Referred to Committee on Education
01/19/2018Assigned Education sub: Subcommittee #2
01/23/2018Impact statement from DPB (HB676)
02/02/2018Subcommittee recommends reporting with substitute (9-Y 1-N)
02/07/2018Reported from Education with substitute (18-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2018Committee substitute printed 18106363D-H1
02/08/2018Impact statement from DPB (HB676H1)
02/09/2018Read first time
02/12/2018Read second time
02/12/2018Committee substitute agreed to 18106363D-H1
02/12/2018Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB676H1
02/13/2018Read third time and passed House (70-Y 30-N)
02/13/2018VOTE: PASSAGE (70-Y 30-N) (see vote tally)
02/14/2018Constitutional reading dispensed
02/14/2018Referred to Committee on Education and Health
02/22/2018Continued to 2019 in Education and Health (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)


Kristie Wells writes:

I strongly urge you to Vote NO!

* There is no line item for data collection regarding language acquisition specifically for deaf/hoh children- how can recommendations be made without adequate data?

* There is NO native ASL representation on the sub-committee - THEREFORE THE BILL IS NOT UNBIASED

Lisa Fletcher writes:

I strongly to vote NO- HB676!!!!

I don't support that!!

Emily Haynes McGee writes:

I ask that you vote NO on HB676.

The summaries of these bills look the same, but they are not.

HB676 says, "It is the goal of the Commonwealth that each child who is deaf or hard of hearing is ....(ii) receptively and expressively literate in English and literate in written English by the end of third grade."

The differentiation between "English" and "written English" implies that the former is spoken English. So it is the goal of the Commonwealth that each child who is deaf or hard of hearing is RECEPTIVELY and expressively able to communicate in spoken English? That's unrealistic and discriminatory. Please vote no!

Patricia Harris writes:

This bill will not benefit Deaf children at ALL. The current system is broken. DOE reported on November 2017 in front of the Disability Commission that 52% of deaf and Hard of Hearing children are arriving to kindergarten language deprived. This bill has the same people that are currently in this broken system!! There is a better bill being carried over next year that actually has teachers of the Deaf, linguist who focus on language development in preschool children and parents from all sides that raise their Deaf child in strictly American Sign Language (ASL), ASL AND spoken English, spoken English only and Cued Speech. THAT bill is unbiased. HB676 is the same broken system!! Deaf children need MORE!! Vote NO! To HB676

Robert McGee writes:

This bill does not make sense to me. I don't understand what medical professionals have to do with learning language.

Alice Lowery writes:

This bill forces people to choose ASL or English. If my child were Deaf, I would want them to have access to both! Why limit the resources?

Vote NO on HB676.

Mary Haynes writes:

I am an R.N. with forty years of experience. Even I know that this medical view of deafness is limited. All resources should be available for Deaf and hard of hearing children. Please vote NO on HB676.

Rita Hickey writes:

Please please vote NO NO NO TO HB 676!!!!!

Doctors and nurses have no saying in language deprivation because it is not MEDICIAL issues - more of EDUCATION issuses!!

Again NO NO NO TO HB676!!!

Thank you!!!

Deborah McKague writes:

Please vote NO to HB 676 I don't support this bill. Thank you

Christine Eubanks writes:

This bill is actually truly bipartisan -- it is all about parental choice. Children start out in the medical realm of newborn screening because they are generally born in and screened in a hospital. 90% of children with hearing loss are born to parents who hear, and do not have deafness in their family. If parents elect for their child to have hearing aids, a medical clearance by a physician is mandated by the state. There can also be health issues related to congenital hearing loss. Once those are ruled out, audiologists and therapists provide the services that can be provided within their expertise. When a family wants something that is not offered in a medical setting, a referral is made to someone who can help them. Learning sign language is an educational choice, so the family is referred to an educator. If the family wants their child to hear and speak, the audiologist can provide hearing aids/implants and a speech-language pathologist provides speech and language and auditory therapy. The Early Intervention (EI) provider can also provide some of that therapy.

The biggest problem in Virginia is that there are potholes in the path from diagnosis to Kindergarten. Many EI providers and teachers don't have training specific to deaf children. So they do what they know how to do but that often isn't enough. HB 676 just wants parents to get what they need to help their children. It should help a child learn ASL as much as it helps a child learn to talk. The parents get to choose what works for their family, not have any communication method mandated.

Sheena Cobb writes:

I strong don’t support NO HB 676. I am myself person as Deaf woman. I born and raised in Richmond, Va. I have been Language deprived. I learn how to read/write late age but learn ASL when I was 18 months old.



Bernice McCormack writes:

I strongly urge you to vote no on this bill. It's biased and discriminatory.

Elizabeth Abeyounis writes:

Please take the time to read this bill. Its intent is to help provide resources for all modes of communication available to hearing impaired/deaf children so their families can make an informed choice. The earlier the decision is made, the better for the child. Due to this, education is needed from the pediatrician, to the Early Interventionist, to schools and private therapists. Changes in technology have afforded more options to teaching language to the hearing impaired/deaf child. The advisory board will be charged with educating and providing support to all involved so that everyone knows their choices and the potential for the child. Please vote YES and support this bill.

Kristie Wells writes:

Re: Christine Eubanks- I respectfully disagree...see below as to why:

"This bill is actually truly bipartisan -- it is all about parental choice."
--> Where is the Native ASL user representation?. Choice includes having ALL sides sufficiently represented. This bill does NOT have adequate ASL representation. Additionally, how can recommendations be made without data regarding language acquisition specifically for deaf and hard of hearing children? This bill does NOT address data collection for an accurate assessment of where language and literacy acquisition stands for deaf and hard of hearing children in Virginia.

" 90% of children with hearing loss are born to parents who hear, and do not have deafness in their family."
--> Recent data indicates that about 95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Therefore it is even *more imperative* that families be presented with *all* options *equally* (again, where is the Deaf and Native ASL representation?) Also, how can recommendations be made without data speaking to language acquisition specifically for deaf and hard of hearing children? Virginia does not currently have this available.

"If parents elect for their child to have hearing aids, a medical clearance by a physician is mandated by the state. There can also be health issues related to congenital hearing loss. Once those are ruled out, audiologists and therapists provide the services that can be provided within their expertise. When a family wants something that is not offered in a medical setting, a referral is made to someone who can help them. "
--> The problem is not hearing aids, CI's, speech therapy, or audiology...there is nothing wrong with any of this. The PROBLEM is that the families are not being presented with ALL options including the option to use aids AND ASL if they so choose.

--> Virginia currently requires a family to pick English modality OR ASL modality- why not BOTH?

"The biggest problem in Virginia is that there are potholes in the path from diagnosis to Kindergarten. Many EI providers and teachers don't have training specific to deaf children. So they do what they know how to do but that often isn't enough."
--> AMEN! Absolutely. How can they learn whats best without Deaf Professionals, ASL Experts, Native ASL Users, etc??

"HB 676 just wants parents to get what they need to help their children. It should help a child learn ASL as much as it helps a child learn to talk. The parents get to choose what works for their family, not have any communication method mandated."
--> By NOT having NATIVE ASL representation on the proposed sub-committee NOR any Deaf Community collaboration, how can this be offering all choices so parents get what they need to help their child?

Kristie Wells writes:

Re: Elizabeth Abeyounis

- Choice seems to be the common ground. Empowering families to make whatever is the best choice for their family is a common thread in these conversations. I continue to ask, though....*How is this bill offering choice if Native ASL users and the Deaf community are not included on the proposed sub-committee?* And, how can recommendations be made if we don't have adequate (or any) data specifically speaking to the literacy needs of deaf and hard of hearing children in Virginia?

Karen Brimm writes:

I urge you to vote no. This bill does not ensure accountability, data gathering, or language choice. We need language milestones for DHH kids so that they reach kindergarten with language - spoken or visual - so that they can learn. HB676 does none of that.
Please vote no!

Shannon Mueller writes:

HB 676 is long over due. It is time that children with hearing loss stop falling through the cracks in Virginia. HB 676 will bring everyone to the table to start having conversations of how the Commonwealth can better support children with hearing loss and their families. All modes of communication are represented on the advisory committee. There is a parent who uses ASL, a parent who uses listening and spoken English and a parent who uses cued speech.

Regarding the medical component to the advisory committee, The Commonwealth does a great job of screening babies. Every child born in a hospital in Virginia has a newborn screening test done before they leave the hospital. When a family is told that their child has not passed this test, it is important that the medical professionals who are the first point of contact with that family, let the parents know that this child must be rescreened for further evaluation. This is vital; otherwise, that child may not get another hearing screening done until kindergarten.

In Virginia, there is a rule known as 1 - 3- 6 to ensure a child’s full potential. A baby that does not pass its newborn hearing screening must be rescreened by 1 month. If there is an issue, parents should have a diagnosis by 3 months. By 6 months, a child with hearing loss is enrolled in early intervention. When this happens, a child with hearing loss can meet all milestones for appropriate development. Families need to know this important information. Right now, too many families are leaving the hospital thinking that their child has “fluid” in their ears or the newborn hearing screening is no big deal. That is unacceptable.

Also, we must train our early intervention service professionals to know all aspects of hearing loss so that they can share with families unbiased and comprehensive information. When families are given all the infomation on all aspects of hearing loss, they can make a decision for their child that best fits their family. In turn, our children can reach their fullest potential. That is why we must pass HB 676.

John Martikainen writes:

Please vote NO!! hb676

Christine Eubanks writes:

There is definitely a need to create benchmarks, but SIX BILLS that tried to mandate that were too expensive to pass through committee. There are other ways to go about it, and if we have a committee that evaluates the need, we can figure out how to get it done.

Christine Eubanks writes:

Kristie, I don't think that "Virginia currently requires a family to pick English modality OR ASL modality". What happens is that the school districts determine what they want to focus on, and that's all you get. If you live in one district there are only signing classrooms, and if you live in another there are NO signing classrooms. And that's *wrong*.

As for the "medical community not telling families about ASL" EVERY CHILD that is diagnosed with a hearing loss in Virginia gets the exact same booklet that lays out all communication choices -- even the ones like Cued Speech that you currently can't access in Richmond. The link is here if anyone wants to download it and read it.

Lynn Dunn writes:

I vote No. Please don't oppress our rights

TishRandolph writes:

I vote NO!!

Robert Burnett writes:

I vote No.

Lee Hartman writes:

I support this bill. It has zero fiscal impact, it is bipartisan (including 2 co-patrons who dropped their own bills for deaf children knowing this one was better), and it will help get children from detection (required of all children born in hospitals under IDEA. Hospitals: where medical professionals work) to intervention as quickly as possible. If you wants to get better resources, if you want data and assessments, this committee can work with the Disability Commission and DO THAT!

Why aren't there spots for ASL users? There are actually two seats, one for a parent and one for a professional. Which is the same number as for cued speech and for listening and spoken language. This doesn't limit resources to one modality. This is a bill crafted by someone who once carried legislation biased toward ASL and after working with professionals, the deaf and their families has made a COMPROMISE bill that will serve everyone. To be a family that desires to communicate with ASL and oppose this bill is to fight against ones own self interest. If your child is found to be deaf at birth, wouldn't it be better to get the child and the family to learn ASL as fast as possible? This does that.

If you are concerned with language deprivation in our classrooms, then this bill should have your support. If you want the committee to be better, then get involved with the Disability Commission and grab a seat. The only reasons to oppose this bill is ignorance or spite.

Kristie Wells writes:

Lee Hartman-

"Why aren't there spots for ASL users? There are actually two seats, one for a parent and one for a professional."
--> 95% of deaf children have hearing parents. The likelihood that a Deaf, signing parent is chosen for the committee is VERY small. Hearing parents with a deaf child, even if they have chosen ASL, is not automatically qualified to speak to the language, linguistic needs, etc. Many parents are learning right along with their child and are not considered qualified in ASL.

--> Professional in the Deaf/HOH field "one professional individual who possesses the highest skill level in the development of American Sign Language competence" --> a hearing professional who is a fluent ASL user does not provide the depth of knowledge and insight that a Deaf professional who is fluent in ASL.

Equal representation is part of the formula for an unbiased and balanced committee.

Kristie Wells writes:


* That may be true in SOME counties, but in others, you have Spoken English classrooms, ASL classrooms, Total Communication classrooms, Cued Speech classrooms, combined classrooms. That IS available around the state and if parents had access to all of their options from the time of Early Intervention Services they would be better prepared to make the case for their child to have their needs met no matter where they are. If the county cannot meet the child's needs, there are other avenues. Stating "thats what you get" is misleading and wrong.

* There are families who have verified that they have been told by Doctors in Virginia NOT to use ASL with their child because it will cause delay in their ability to use speech. That is not appropriate. That is was creates distrust.

Lee Hartman writes:


This committee also does not require a member who has been implanted with a cochlear device, but I'm not complaining that my son is not represented.

Corey Moran writes:

I voted NO to hb676

Brittany writes:

Yes to HB 676!
Mother of a deaf CI child.

Bonnie Person writes:

I STRONGLY urge you to vote NO to HB676! Any legislation that seeks to provide options and guidance to parents of a deaf or hard of hearing child WITHOUT including input from Native ASL users is flawed from the start!

Christine Eubanks writes:

Kristie, not everyone can move their family from one county to another. If you can't move, and your school district has no "choices", then yes, that's what you get.

And I have no doubt that some doctors have told some families not to sign. Some signing Deaf people think that you are not "real Deaf" if you have a CI. I hope that we don't paint everyone with the same brush.

Alison King writes:

Yes to HB 676! A few thoughts - IDEA (2004) requires outcome data on language outcomes for children as they exit Part C services. We have data, but we are able to look at only the language data for children with hearing loss as it would no longer be de-identified data due to the small sample size. Simply put, if you pull out only the children with hearing loss and look by region or locale, you run the risk of identifying who the child is based on their hearing loss alone. This goes against the rights of the child and the family. Yes, we do need a better data collection system within the guidelines set forth in IDEA and the regulations written by the state. We know that we have a HUGE loss to follow-up from identification of a hearing loss through Universal Newborn Hearing Screening to Early Intervention. The VDH stats from 2015 that are reported to the CDC show that 40% of kids identified are not making it to EI services. So, we need to train our medical professionals to help with this. Build the bridge between the medical and educational communities in order to help ALL the families. Also, I just completed 18 months of research on the EI providers in Virginia. Half of the providers working with children who have a hearing loss identify themselves as Developmental Specialists. They also report NEVER having taken a course in audiology, aural habilitation, or sign. They do not know about communication or language choices and we have one very small graduate program in Virginia. My view - there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed that don't have an easy fix. I understand that there is a lot of anger and believe me when I tell you that the bill was put together in good faith. I intend on attending the OPEN committee meetings if this is passed and making sure that my concerns are shared. It is unfortunate that some people have turned this into an "us" vs. "them" when I know that the wonderful group of parents and professionals that worked on this bill simply want to help families.

Rhonda Jennings-Arey writes:

VOTE NO! This is backwards! Audiologists and doctors are NOT language specialists! Research that was used for this bill is not valid! VOTE NO! Not represented by the DEAF! Where are the DEAF????

MJ Lightbody writes:

This bill is about using oral skills, lip reading and 'hearing' skills.
Why is it alright and beneficial to use sign language for hearing children who are learning to speak but not to use sign language for deaf or hard of hearing children?
Giving a child as many options as possible to improve communication is the best way to educate a child. Then, the child will be ready to enter Kindergarten on the same level and hearing peers.

Alissa Conover writes:

Please vote NO to the HB 676. There is omitted Native American Sign Language representative on the advisory committee rather too limited to parents, education and medical professionals.

Brittany writes:

Please explaine how this isn't represented via the daughter is deaf and we fully support. This bill is balanced.

"Where are the deaf?" < Re: Right here and fully supporting a well balanced bill that is within the best interest of deaf children and families of the deaf!

We support HB 676!

Mother of deaf CI child

Katherine Malady writes:

I ask that you vote NO to HB 676.

The problem with HB 676 is that language is not learned at the doctors or taught by medical professionals. Language is taught by educators. HB 676 continues to maintain the medical model that focuses almost exclusively on listening and speaking - but "listening and speaking" is not a language, it is a modality. Whether or not a child can hear and speak does not determine if they have a true language. The proposed voting members of the HB 676 committee contain no experts on language acquisition or language deprivation.

HB 676 does not call for any data collection. The purpose of their proposed committee is to make recommendations to the Disability Commission regarding best practices for language acquisition for Deaf children, but this is to be done without any hard data to show what the true best practices are! To date, Deaf/HOH children from birth to age 5 are not assessed to ensure their language acquisition and there is no statewide tracking of language acquisition assessments.

HB 1410 has been carried over until 2019 and is the right solution to ensure language equality and acquisition for Deaf Children. HB 1410 aims to develop a balanced committee that includes language specialists and experts in education that will collect available resources and language assessments/milestones and post them on the state website for parents to access. HB 1410's advisory committee will collect data on language acquisition of Deaf children in Virginia and post this data so that parents can see which resources are effective and make educated and unbiased decisions for their Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.

Liz Leitch writes:

No... This bill does nothing to change the status quo. Agencies are supposed to provide a coordinated approach already. This is admitting that they are and have been one sided and unable to address a full range of options. And in 2 years when this proposed committee work ends all that there will be to show is a lot of navel gazing. The bill and supporters are confusing hearing with language.

I believe we all want deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing children to thrive. That means providing ALL the options to parents- not just a handbook. Currently Virginia is not living up to its responsibility and the medical community is complicit making money hand over fist. $100,000 for a CI start to finish that is covered by insurance or medicaid. And while that is a fine choice- why is the medical and EI community dissuading and blatantly telling parents to not let their children learn ASL? I taught my kids ASL before they could speak and their language skills are off the charts. Why deprive your children of that gift?

The committee proposed here is not language or child focused. What skills or training do cochlear implant specialists or audiologists or nurse practitioners have in assessing language? More than knowing if the child can say or discriminate a word? Where are the education specialists? Where are the language specialists? Why are no Deaf or Hard of Hearing Virginians included? What suggestions can be made without data collection which is "too expensive".. no fiscal impact because no one wants spend any money on deaf/ deaf blind/ hard of hearing students.. status quo.

The "us vs. them" is only perpetuated by the stacking the committee with medical professionals (30% of the voting members). When the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

If you really want to make a change then do something different. Be inclusive.

lucy Hovinga writes:

I strongly don't support HR.676. I had 6 Deaf and Hard of Hearing children without using CI instead using hearing aids or not.. children s education is higher.. and normal person... perfect.. however I veto H.R. 676. NO!

Elaine writes:



I vote NO HB676! That bill does not accept.

David Nesmith writes:

I vote NO HB676

Gail Wilson writes:

Something is wrong with this website, I can't vote.

David Murphy writes:

Something wrong with website I can't vote which use iPad 4th gen tablet.
Vote no hb676 bill

Alan writes:

I have been a teacher of the Deaf for 18 years, with degrees and certifications in Deaf Education, Literacy, Bilingual Education, English, Journalism, and Writing. I am also Deaf. I urge you not to support this bill. This bill does not cover the spectrum of approaches available to Deaf children and does not realistically provide support for those same children. In addition to this, this bill is cleverly designed to push oralism on Deaf children, which has been shown to be detrimental to Deaf children's academic, social, emotional, and mental (health) growth. In the very least, American Sign Language needs to be included in this bill explicitly and shown as a viable option. (Research shows that Deaf children who receive full access to language--most often through ASL--thrive in all aspects of life, including written English and even spoken English).

Brandi Nolte writes:

PLEASE vote NO HB676!!!!!!

Lauren Good writes:

Pursuing American Sign Language is NOT an educational choice only. It is access to life, to what is going on around you. It provides the individual equal access to language, whether it be in an educational setting (mind you, many interpreters in the school setting are NOT qualified... Virginia only gives out certifications to interpreters, and they are not tracked for CEU hours- not required as well. Many teachers of the deaf do not sign well aka would you have a teacher in a regular classroom speak to students in broken english? same difference), mental health setting, every day life and so forth. It impacts a deaf and hard of hearing individual in all aspects of his life. If language is not provided in a way that that individual thrives in, it can have severe consequences. In my field of work, I often treat clients who have dealt with language deprivation. It makes a huge impact on their self-esteem, thrive to live, and career choices. Some turn to drugs to cope, or become depressed, to the point where they feel dis-empowered. Speaking and listening only caters to a select few, who succeed in this. Training someone to listen and speak is not something new. it has existed for hundreds of years, and the success rate is low. Many fall through the cracks. We need better accountability in tracking these students, what works for them and what does not. Include deaf professionals and native American Sign Language users in this bill. This bill omits them, whether or not it was an oversight. Imagine going to another country, and claiming that English is the best language there, and that that native language has to be revised to best fit the English speaking people. The native language was fine, and people were thriving. That's called colonialism. It's called oppression and discrimination. This has to stop. We all must learn to co-exist, and respect one another. to begin this, please respect that American Sign Language is a valid language, and it is to be ONE of the options provided and offered by a fluent ASL professional.

It really does make my job difficult. I have to filter out what is the issue, when I meet with a new client. Is it misunderstanding what is happening the issue, due to language deprivation, causing frustration and anger (and depression)? Or is it a mental health issue that needs to be addressed? Psychoeducation occurs first in many cases before I can really get to the root of the issue in therapy. by ending language deprivation, it would allow many deaf and hard of hearing people to pursue their lives, the way they are meant to be. They would be able to handle oppression and discrimination, and stand up assertively when these cases occur. Many have difficulty standing up because of their years of being oppressed and told that they were not good enough, because they did not have access to language.

Candance writes:

Inclusive bill for all deaf/hoh children is critical. Since majority of deaf and hard of people do not sign, most use other form of communication such as signing in exact English, or they utilizes Listening and Spoken Language or Cued Speech or Cued English.

ASL signing people in America represents only 2 to 5% of deaf and hard of hearing population. They are the most loudest group, ergo, the votes are based on their contacting their people to vote (on this page).

We need to respect all languages and all forms of communication, especially when it comes to parents making decision for their children upon being informed. Parental choices needs to be respected.

Kristine Rule writes:

Please support this bill. It’s every parents’ right to choose the mode of communication for their children. No child should be language deprived and this bill supports this in an unbiased way. Less than 1% of the population uses/knows ASL. With early intervention and the technology available today, deaf and hard of hearing children can be on par with hearing peers by kindergarten. No one should be forced to learn a language that their family is not fluent in. This bill supports family choice.

Babs writes:

Please support this bill. Our family chose both ASL and written and spoken language. We've been following similar legislative attempts across the states for some time and find this to be one of the best bills proposed. The bill is unbiased, inclusive, and supports the children first...not an agenda.

Lori Bobsin writes:



•Develops a subcommittee under the guidance of the Disability Commission.;
•Vetted by the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (EHDI), Infant-Toddler Connection, and VA Department of Education (VA DOE).

•Develops an all-volunteer advisory committee of qualified individuals;
•Works within already-existing systems of service provision;
•No additional expenses to public schools and early intervention programs.

•Works within the federal and state guidelines of the IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) and the IEP (Individualized Education Program);
•Maintains the rights of children and their families and requiring highly-qualified professionals, as put forth by the federally mandated guidelines of IDEA.

•Includes all communication choices;
•Advisory committee contains both familial and professional representatives from each option;
•Maintains the rights of parents to make these choices for their child.

•Develops a committee to review all systems for service provision and provide suggestions for improvement to the Disability Commission;
•Reviews with the intent to improve our current system of data collection and outcome measurement.

Katherine McMullen writes:

Vote NO Any Bill that doesn't specifically recognize the critical role of ASL as critical foundational visual language for many Deaf children in the Commonwealth of Virginia is biased towards an oral only approach.

Terry Dean writes:

Our family lives on Main St, 23336, Virginia and deaf and we vote yes. Why are all these people from out of state on here? Hopefully, our elected officials will disregard the opinions of people from away.

Jennifer C Witteborg writes:

How so funny HB676 Has NO FISCAL IMPACT

ohhhhh boy! That means obviously the sole TWO POSITIONS for ASL are NOT for Deaf people?

ADA provides the RIGHT - not the FUNDS!!!!

LEADK tried 4 times to work out our LEADK Bill HB1410 2018 Session carry over Patron again 2019

READ OUR BILL - We have LANGUAGE EXPERTS - not medical folks.

My son is in his last semester at Medical school, and they've spent a total of 15 minutes in all the years in this Medical LONG JOURNEY -on Deaf.

Sorry - but medical folks nope.

ALSO - THE CURRENT Vurgina Dept of Ed (handles ages 3 - 5 years old) and CURRENT BHDS (who handles Deaf babies to age 3) ADMITTED November 28, 2017 to Del Pogge Chair of Disability Commission - that BHDS has ZERO data on language acquisition of Deaf babies to age 3 year sold in their program.

VA's DOE John Eisenberg admitted the same day to the same body to Delegate Pogge that 52% of Deaf kids are leaving the Preschool Program ALREADY LANGUAGE DELAYED.

ALSO HALF of VA Deaf kids leave high school without a diploma - and most of these 18 year olds read at 3rd or 4th grade reading level.

THIS FEDERAL policy that Bobsin mentioned- YEAH it's been in effect for years..

NO FISCAL IMPACT? WHY Cuz DOE and BHDS LOOOOOVES HB 676 - it doesn't change the broken system.

IN contrast our LEADK Bill 2017 Session HB 1873 Patron by Delegate Pogge - had a fiscal impact of $145K

Our LEADK Bill 2018 Session HB1410 - the SAME BILL's fiscal impact JUMPED 600% to $1million

The same LEADK Bill jumped from $145k one yearlater to $1 million.

Me think that smacks of political move by DOE and BHDS to KILL our LEADK BILL

Our LEADK BILL would have provided EXISTING Language acquisition (for ASL and English!!!) screening to be made available to Parents of Deaf kids to opt in. (No forcing of languge - just tracking milestones in language acquisition of Deaf babies/kids so we know where they are at.. and how!)

POST these LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DATA on the State level website (already required by IDEA Fed policy - but never abided by DOE/BHDS.. Broken ssytem remember.... )

ALSO to POST ON STATE LEVEL WEBSITE: provide EXISTING PARENTAL for American Sign Language and English (with or without visual supplements such as Cued Speech, Listening and Spoken Language, AVT, etc) UNBIASED.

HB676 is totally biased to speaking and listening option.

I am Deaf and live/work in Virginia.

I am language deprived - My husband is Deaf but people call him hard of hearing cuz he works without interpreters, and he works around hearing people who do not sign alll day long. he speaks, and he uses a hearing aid.

My husband literally COULD NOT READ until he finally learned signs at age 12/13. I have been married to him for 35 years and I finally asked him a few weeks ago - what was 'that learning reading and writing for the very first time at age 12 years old -

He said: Finally I could SEE visually the words that I was saying/and expressing or seeing another person clearly sign out- and connecting that to the words on the paper... it was tangible" (ASL translated into English).

Please for the sake of generations under the ilk of HB676 mindset - Medical approach to Deaf kids.... It's been happening for generations and generations..

The 20 year olds Deaf people I see are so often language deprived to the point where they cannot drive/read/understand the DMV tests....

It's worse now than when I was a child (born 1959)

The system is broken - we all know that - listen to Stakeholders in LEADK (Parents of Deaf, Deaf Adults, Professionals in the Deaf field)

Jen Witty writes:

My response:
(again to all 100 Delegates)

Delegate Pogge,

I respectfully disagree and the vast Stakeholders who are also Survivors of AGBell's tight hold on Education system across USA since 1880s.

Technology of Cochlear Implants have been in existence since 1980s and still last year DOE John Eisenberg told you 52% of Deaf kids are leaving the Preschool program. BHDS Catherine Hancock on that same day presenting to Disability Commission, November 28, 2017 admitted there was ZERO Data on Deaf kids' language acquisition between Ages birth to three years old under their system.

Both DOE and BHDS receive Federal $$ from IDEA and EHDI and others - whose policy already demands for State Data.

HB 676 perpetuates the current broken system. No wonder DOE BHDS loves HB676 - they don't have to change.

You don't go to the hospital for language. Your advisory committee is full of current 'experts' and medical credentialed people who may never have experienced trying to learn a language while wearing a hearing aid, a cochlear implant, or being 'failed at all auditory stimuli' aka DEAF.

Please your bill is no good. You patroned our bill HB1893 (2017 Session) which had fiscal impact of $145k. The same bill this session (Carry Over) HB1410 had a 600% to $1million dollars. SAME BILL!

That constitutes a political act to deliberately kill our bill.

We are David fighting Goliath. Please be the Agent and drop your bill.

LEADK has FIRM PATRONS from Delegate Helsel (HB 1410) and Senator Edwards (SB160) both carried to 2019 Session.

Thank you kindly and I do wish you all well! This flu season is a bear!

Be well

Jenny Witteborg

Mom to 5 bilingual adult children
Artist at life
Advocate for Virginia Association of the Deaf and
Member of Deaf Grassroots Movement.

Email all 100 Delegate "NO to HB 676 I put Don't be Deaf to Deaf Babies!,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Daniel Woods writes:

I do not agree with HB 676. No to HB 676. I was born hearing till 18 months old was caught high fever with pneumonia. That what cause me deaf. I was send to Public School by my parent. For whole 2 years in Public School was forced me to learn oral speak and not allow sign language that something I don't know what they were talking about. I saw parent got in big fight over me. I later learned that my mother forbidden me using sign language and use oral speech but my father found someone deaf man in which his friend's son. His friend told my father that he learned everything in sign language and read and write at Deaf School where all professional teachers for deaf children who learned from.

My parent got in fight again. My father decided what is right thing to do. He took me to Deaf School. I went to school and picking up sign language is where I learned fast. And I was able to learned how to read and write through sign language where they were taught. When I came home with my family. I wrote it to my mother. My father told her this is a proof where I can learned. My mother still can't accept me who I was and can't accept me using sign language. Hurt my feeling for long time. Because she showed no love for me. My father is so happy for me.

According to language deprivation is waste my time in late age but I catch up good. Sadly I saw many Deaf students enter Deaf School at age 11 to 13 and all have been language deprivation. I can understand why. Due hearing parent think what the best for their Deaf child. They have no better than that. This cued speech and oral speak is mind abusive to Deaf children. Please allow Deaf children to be fulfill with sign language that they won't get language deprivation. If you love Deaf child. Please provide them sign language. Parents should accept involve learning sign language for your Deaf child most need to communicate would be very helpfully to Deaf children benefit education.

We Deaf people know what is the best way for Deaf children in the future. We stay on LEAD-k. Earlier education to Deaf children with sign language that will learn faster in future. Hearing parents tend to oppression and discrimination on Deaf people who know what the best way for our Deaf children. That AGBell is abusive power because he showed no love for Deaf children by forced them to do oral speech. They can't hear and therefore they need to start learn sign language. Don't be selfish yourself. Openly for Deaf children most need in sign language.

I have met deaf boy who using cued speech. I don't understand what he was saying. I using sign language as he looked at me and trying to communicate each other. First time in his life he learned some sign language. That is where hearing parents tend to separated us both side of Deaf society when we learned different way. I offered him to go to Gallaudet University. He went there. Year later he came back home. I happened to met him again. Wow! He learned fast with sign language. He told me he was so angry with his own mother who she forbidden him using sign language because of language deprivation too long. He is very happy to learned sign language completely his education in his late age. He wish that he had learn sign language long time ago. Hearing parents, you all need to think about it. Don't hurt your Deaf child. Give them great opportunity to learn sign language. Please understand! Let it go! Support LEAD-K. No HB 676

Annie Whitlock writes:

The words that stands out to me is. Seamless Service.
Public Schools are uneducated how to help
Our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.
Options are available to help our children, but yet you have to drag it out of them and put up a huge fight to get accommodations. Then even when you get accommodations they don’t properly know how to go about using them.
Mandating help is a benefit. A lot of our children are passed through the grade levels just because they are on an I.E.P and can’t be held back, yet I add again it’s because the educators are not taught how to properly use the FM systems or think just because a sound field is added to the classroom and it amplifies all is good.
Of course reading is harder because how do you sound out a word you can’t hear. Yes more time should be spent on reading.
ASL isn’t being taken away if that is the chosen form of communication. IDEA and ADA federally protect that.
Before you vote No ask any parent with a deaf or hard of hearing child how hard it was to get what they need at school. Better yet ask them if they have what is needed for them to successfully go to school.
If you can find two parents that say there child has been given the best access to education then maybe you have a ground to stand on. But in my experience you won’t find one!!!!!

Kevin writes:

Being a mother of Deaf child doesn't primarily make you a representative of our communities, and Daniel Woods is one of many who are living proof. Rhonda (whom you previously were dismissive of) and her husband on other hand are both Deaf, and her husband also happens to be leading national director of many state representatives of Deaf Grassroots Movement. I could be mistaken, but I don't think your baby chose to have the Cochlear Implant. You let audiologists and doctors made those decisions for your baby without researching and considering other options, however my parents had took a careful measurements before making the first decision for me. One thing that my mother had insisted was that they always fully support my decisions as I was making them growing up. I was pretty young when I had decided for myself to get a CI, then I later regretted making that choice for several reasons. However it was my own mistake to learn from, and none were to be blamed on my parents. I've socialized with lot of Deaf friends whom I've noticed to be very resentful of their non-deaf parents for forcing decisions upon them without consent, and I also had known some friend's parents whom are more supportive alike my parents. The point being is that I am obviously more wiser to the differences from the lying that the audiologists, doctors, educators, and including the AGBAD have been telling about us for over hundredth years. This bill is not balanced nor is any of it truthfully represented by the Deafs, it's nothing if not other phonocentrism discrimination against the civil right of Deaf Americans throughout the histories. I met a retired ASL teacher and also my mentor who experienced oralism oppression through his childhood, and he was the first one who warned me about the Alexander Graham Bell's conspiracy against the Deaf established academies in the past. He shared with me a quote that he had made up himself, and I'd never forget those words to live by. "Fit the methods to the kids, not the kids to the methods."

Margie English writes:

When we have the constant problem of Deaf people reach adulthood language deprived and angry, there is a clear and serious problem. Many of those people are not able to speak/listen, sign, interact with people in meaningful ways, hold jobs, understand what’s happening around them. That’s why we need to look at this from the language aspect. If speaking/listening works for them, great! If not, they need to start trying a different language long before that language window closes at age 5.

We need to stop looking at Deaf children as needing medical support to restore them to hopefully achieve benchmarks used by professionals who work with children who can hear. We need to look at them with language support. If they’re not learning to read and write with their peers there is a problem.

When we have medical view of a Deaf child we pigeonhole the Deaf child into the approach of having to fix them. That then justifies not teaching them in a different language or how to read/write until long after the language window closes at age 5. This begins the process of language deprivation. The other tabled bill asks that we change that system to looking at the Deaf child from the language view.

HB 676 shows a low fiscal impact because it keeps the fiscal impact squarely on the shoulders of Deaf children themselves and allows them to suffer a reduced quality of life throughout their adult lives. Changing any system often requires a fiscal investment especially to make it right. Let’s go back to HB1410/SB160 and redesign the system to make sure we have all the resources available to every deaf child and prepare them to be thriving citizens contributing to our local and national communities and economies.

Even if there are Deaf native speakers of American Sign Language represented on the advisory council under HB676 their input would drown among the self-serving votes from medical professionals placed on the board. How does medical expertise overrule the experience of a Deaf adult? The medical consideration should be a guide and NOT the majority rule! We need language experts on the board along with parents of Deaf children and Deaf/HH adults providing guidance also.

Stop the medical view! Let the deaf children live and thrive on the language that comes naturally to them! That’s why we must VOTE NO TO HB676!!

A Deaf Woman VA Business Owner

Barbara Blevins writes:

YES!!!! Definite yes!!

Laura writes:

I have a deaf child and live in Virginia and I vote Yes. It is critical to have all the options explained to you by the people who do this for a living. I was frustrated that no one even mentioned cochlear implants until the third hearing screen. It also fills in gaps in an older system to catch up with the advances in biotechnology and childhood development. ASL may work for some but not everyone. Your child cannot choose a cochlear implant because the it is best when placed in the first year of life before the brain remodels the auditory center and it becomes minimally useful. My child lives in my world now; singing, pointing out bird songs and enjoying TV shows. We are not withholding language, we are giving it to her.

Meghan Guethe writes:

YES to having a choice. My daughter received Cochlear Implants (CI) and had we been mandated to learn ASL at the time, especially in the beginning, it would have been detrimental to her learning spoken language. We actually started with baby sign language and stopped because when you have CI's you need sound/spoken language. When I sign, not being a deaf person myself, I do not speak. That cuts off her hearing the spoken language she needs to develop and rely on CI's. When she signed, she did not speak. That cuts off her use of spoken language. ASL is detrimental to a CI child in the beginning of therapy especially at that targeted age before kindergarten. I know it, I lived it.

CI technology, along with our stellar medical professionals from her surgeon to her audiologist to her speech therapist have served my daughter very well. Until you see her CI's people don't even know she is deaf. I am proud that she is deaf and doing so well with her CI's. She is getting A's and B's in school and can interact with friends easily. CI's gave her more choices for communication. Anyone against having a choice is biased against CI kids. We chose spoken language and CI's as our path and our voices should be equally heard.

She is 10 and I said, "Well, I had to make this choice for you as your were a baby." I always try to explain both sides so I told her, "You could have used ASL only (and I explained why people choose that in an unbiased way, that is your family's choice) or you could have had CI's (which was our choice and explained why.) What do you think? She said she wouldn't have it any other way. She is held up as an example of how CI technology and therapy works and we regularly meet with other families going through this same choice. We just need to mandate that we have access to any path for our kids, a choice. We should not mandate ASL for everyone before kindergarten, that is going way overboard and wouldn't work in our situation and would be detrimental for other CI kids. I am FOR the other families who choose Cochlear Implants and so I am FOR this bill so they have maximum support for their children.

Brittany writes:

You have my journey all wrong! My daughter started with learning sign language at 6 weeks old, the only option that we were told of at that time. After my husband and I started digging for resources and exploring other options, we found CI AND DECIDED it was the best fit for our family (family choice is important). ASL is where we started and continued for quite some time. The information wasn't provided for us and all information should be given to parents. My daughter is right where she should be and testing above in some areas as her hearing peers.
As for you saying having a deaf child doesn't make me a representative for your communities. That may be true. However, the statement asked where are the representative of the deaf. My daughter is deaf, she is a minor, I am her advocate. We support her in any direction. So she excluded as a deaf representative because she chooses to use her voice??? Who are you to say who stands as a representative to deaf communities??
I feel that you see a one sided story. You stated that this was probably my choice and not my daughters...not sure if you have children, but that's what parenting is about....making the best decisions for your own family and in the best interest of your child. Not all children will share the same choice as the best interest. My daughter is right where she should be.

MaryRose Gonzalez writes:

I am strongly against HB676. It is focus is about medical technology. The key is to focus on language from birth to 5 years. I am, myself, have been deaf since infancy after a bout of spinal meningitis. I am thankful my wonderful hearing parents enrolled me into deaf school. They knew what was best for me in time when a lack of ASL was the norm. I love what fellow Jenny said
"You don't go to the hospital to learn the language. "This bill pretends that this is about technology rather than language Don't get confused by the tricks of big dollar donors and their sycophants Vote NO on HB676

MaryRose Gonzalez
Vice President Virginia Association Deaf
chair of LEADK-VA

Elizabeth Spiers writes:

This bill takes a medical approach to children who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind, instead of looking at children as a whole. Parents need to have all options for language, not just listening and spoken language. The bill refers to English and written English, but makes no mention of ASL. I am also concerned that the bill assumes that technology such as cochlear implants and hearing aids will solve everything. Deafblind children in particular need access to all language options as they may not hear or see well enough to rely completely on spoken language. Also, the bill provides no requirements on data collection for children on how they acquire language of any kind. Vote no on HB 676.

Katherine Shenoy writes:

I vote no to HB676!

wesley arey writes:

I dont support HB676 my son is hearing and he have two language asl and english ,that benefit my son know two language, deaf= ear not work but eyes work therefore ASL MUST

wesley arey writes:

I dont support HB676

wesley arey writes:

sorry,i hit send before i finish.i mean ASL helps my hearing children too not just deaf. BUT the bill HB676 is medical. where is language. vote NO

Tim Bobsin writes:

VOTE YES-HB676 It is an all-inclusive bill and it lists all languages/communication modalities--Read the Bill!!!

1. Nine voting members, consisting of one parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing who has chosen American Sign Language as the primary language for his child; one parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing who has chosen Listening and Spoken Language as the communication mode for spoken English for his child; one parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing who has chosen Cued Speech as the communication mode for spoken English for his child; one professional individual who possesses the highest skill level in the development of American Sign Language competence; one professional individual who possesses the highest skill level in the development of Listening and Spoken Language competence; one professional individual who possesses the highest skill level in the development of Cued Speech/Language competence; one pediatric audiologist with at least five years of experience treating children who are deaf or hard of hearing; one nurse with at least five years of experience in a neonatal intensive care unit; and one pediatric otologist, neuro-otologist, or otolaryngologist; and

2. Five nonvoting members, consisting of one member of the Virginia Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program Advisory Committee, one member of the Board of Visitors of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, one representative of the Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia, one representative of the Virginia Department of Education, and one representative of the Center for Family Involvement at the Virginia Commonwealth University Partnership for People with Disabilities.

B. Non-legislative citizen members of the Subcommittee shall be citizens of the Commonwealth.

Bryan Jones writes:

I vote NO to HB676!!!!!!!!!!! Period....

Valerie Wardlow writes:

I vote NO HB 676

I’m a deaf mother of four Deaf children. We never once prevented them have the access to audio resources.
Deaf children should have all resources to access. I BELIEVE we (everyone of us) shall be EMPOWERING the children all the resources. They will see that they can feel comfortable to be aware of themselves with our support and encouragement. Not FORCED. DEAF CULTURE is like the other cultures that HEARING PEOPLE should not speak for, but do offer resources not make it law. No thank you. I VOTE NO.

One Deaf girl is in gifted program because she have the all access to asl, written English and speech therapies.
Two profoundly Deaf boys asked to wear hearing aids and want attend speech class, I did not prevent them.
One boy wears on/off hearing aids and is really attentive in class, top of his class.
So HB 676 is invalid.

Jen Witty writes:

To see the bills discussed below - see website

LEADK VA is not against speech - but it is against CONDITIONAL LOVE.

Celebrate the Deaf child! Speech is fine - but GIVE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (meaning however the Deaf child NEEDS_ GIVE no matter what the doctors, audiologist, or the despited AGBell or the Demonic Karl White Tells unwitting hearing parents (95% of Deaf babies born to Hearing parents of whom 95% never met a Deaf person before.) to NOT SIGN.

Over and over 2017/2018 Hearing parents are told to PICK either Speech OR SIGNS - FALSE Binary-

ASL/and other Sign languages (LSM, LSF, LSQ and many others Native Indigenous Sign Languages of the Land ) Are visual /tactile languages and as Deaf beings (some of us are Deaf Blind - so tactile Sign language (by touch) - Sign Languages are GOD-SENT, A BLESSING, AN EASY 100% Accessible Language

UNLIKE Speech - I lipread some people some of the time- and always tell people English is only around 30% visable on the lips... while Spanish is over 70 % visible on the lips....

Signs actually help Speech skills for many many Deaf and DeafBlind and DeafDisabled children BECAUSE it gives a bonafide language.

Can you imagine learning a language that you might get 10- 30% on the lips?

Can you imagine how relieved it would be for both Mom/Dad and Deaf child when everyone just accepts and SIGNS as well as offer Speech?

When I learned American Sign Language as a 18 1/2 year old - I had survived a suicidal attemp (huge amount of oral only Deaf kids do try suicide - it's horribly lonely world for many of us. There ARE OUTLIERS - those who succeed and are very happy/content and successfull Deaf in hearing world who are oral - But for the VAST MAJORITY of us Deaf - we're survivors of the AGBELL and oral only option various modalities: Cued Speech, AVT, LSL (AGBELL's brand).

LEADK Offers
1)Parental Resources on State website including Language milestones for Deaf children in American Sign Language and Spoken English.
2) Offer these language acquisition tests to parents who opts in.
3) Post the datas of those participants so new Parents of Deaf kids can see what is working and where..

LEADK includes Oral Only Option folks: AGBELL and CUed Speech, and OUR LEADK Bill 2018 Session HB 1410 and SB160 had EDUCATORS of the Deaf children on the advisory committee to pull together the EXISTING parental resources and EXISTING ASL and Spoken English Milestones for Deaf children to post together.

IN CONTRAST- ORAL ONLY OPTION Bill in Virginia General Assebmly for 2018 Session HB676 is clearly an advisory MEDICAL and CURRENTLY Service Providers.

Problem with HB676 is that it has no Deaf Sign Language Acquisition Expert...
Nor Representative from the Stakeholders.

The two departments that handles Deaf children in VA from birth to 5 years old - both ADORE HB 676.

These two Departments (DOE and DBHDS) killed LEADK Bill (HB1410 2018 Session) with a 600% jump in Fiscal impact: $145k to $1 Million.

Political sabotage?

Federal policy IDEA ETC all HAD THE STATE DATA COLLECTION on Deaf children already FOR YEARS.


LEADK Bills in Senate and House of Delegate have PATRONS ready to re-introduce LEADK Bill in 2019.

VOTE NO HB676 because it's just cements the status quo.

November 28, 2017 John Eisenberg of DOE admitted that the previous year 52% of Deaf kids left the Preschool program already language delayed.

Catherine of the other Dept BHDS admitted they had no state data on Deaf children's language acquisition.

VOTE NO on HB 676 - it's a horrible medical bill that does nothing but cements the ongoing (since 1880) AGBELL trying to 'make Deaf forget they are Deaf'

Cochlear implants have been around for 30 years...

HALF OF Virginia Deaf Kids leave High School without a diploma.

MOST of the Virginia Deaf 18-year-olds read around 3rd - 4th grade reading Level.

DOE handles ages 3 - 21 years old
BHDS handles ages birth to 3 years old.

VOTE NO on 676

Thank you kindly

Jenny a Deaf Virginian survivor of Oral ONLY Option...

Laura Sutton writes:

Vote Yes for HB 676!

Dirk Hillard writes:

Vote NO on HB676

Sara writes:

Vote Big NO! Many Deaf fail to learn their education because they deprive their time by focusing on oral skills. Think children from other countries or even in this country are struggling to learn their education because the parents don’t know how to teach them through lip reading or oral methods. Best for parents and children learn sign language to help to boost their intellectual languages. They deprive their language and it has not improved since 1880 in Milan

Elizabeth Allen, M.Ed, CI/CT writes:

I strongly urge you to vote NO on this bill.
The bill offers no accountability nor means to implement much needed services to parents with deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) children. To be linguistically ready for Kindergarten is a realistic yet challenging goal for deaf and hard of hearing children. The VA EDHI program works hard to identify and track families whose children are deaf or hard of hearing. These families need improved access to education about communication choices. The linguistic development of their children needs to be assessed and evaluated regularly. Communication choices can change and the support and recognition of the need for a change need to be in place. Aside from a committee (which has no positions specifically for deaf adults - either those who sign or those who use speech and lip reading) to make recommendations, there are no funds or guidelines in this bill to do so.
We all are visual learners, especially the deaf and hard of hearing. The advancements in technology have been remarkable allowing more children to be sucessful in learning spoken English than those in my early days of teaching in the 1970s. However, MANY D/HH children are not successful in acquiring listening or spoken English. Language learning begins at birth. A deaf child has the right to have access to a visual language. 90% of their parents are hearing. The resources for them to learn ASL are severely lacking in the state of VA. .
While teaching a D/HH 3rd - 5th grade classroom in New Mexico I had only one student in that class who read at 3rd grade level. She was the youngest in the class. Why was she successful? She had deaf parents and grew up learning a complete, rich language from birth. She had no trouble learning English because she had a strong foundation of a language, ASL.
The potential is there for all D/HH children to succeed academically. I ask that you vote NO on this bill in order that a bill that appropriately addresses the needs of all D/HH children can be submitted and passed.

Jenny Witty writes:

Clarify my previous post 15 minutes - cannot edit once submitted.

- Language deprivation does a number on Deaf Survivors of AGBell and Oral Only Option groups>>>LANGUAGE deprivation hurts the ability to express and to understand.

LEADK does not FORCE anyone to learn signs.

It's about LANGUAGE MILESTONES/ACQUISITION for ASL and English, both or the language the Deaf child uses. This will LEAD TO ENGLISH LITERACY - WIN WIN


HB 676 is all about medical : Fix the ears, fix the speech.... It's not about OBTAINING A LANGUAGE.

YOu don't go to the hospital for language.

Gotta wonder why AGBELL /DOE and BHDS are so afraid of LEADK BILL cuz it'll show in DATA that their ORAL ONLY Approach for over 70 years is actually a failure.

OH WAIT!! The Congressional Report of 1965 actually said "ORAL (only) EDUCATION for DEAF is FAILURE"

yup yup yup.

VOTE NO on HB 676

Rachel Friedman writes:

No. Keep ASL

M Gallagher writes:

i am Deaf and my doctor said i am as healthy as horse. i do not have congenital hearing loss at all. yes i was born with encoded deafness. i was meant to be Deaf and healthy. i never lost any hearing. so hearing loss is wrong term for me and many other babies who are deaf. keep that in mind that all babies born deaf are healthy unless affected by other things. hearing loss applies ONLY to those who had hearing before being strickened.

my language acquisition since birth to school age was in asl format with my deaf sister and deaf brother. we had trouble communicating with our hearing parents and hearing brother and hearing sister. because of Deaf sibling communication, i was able to learn how to read and write in english at normal child development. eventually learned how to talk.

now my argument:
i voted no to bill because it exclude the reality and promote Utopian fantasies. Deaf adults can tell you all the reality and are able to share resources and experience on to improve the lives of Deaf babies. why would you exclude Deaf adults who are experts in educational field?

Data needed:
research team comprised of qualified people (with doctorates in deaf education) without any bias and without any connections to organizations as AGBell and NAD shall work toward realistic results.

To all senators and delegates, please give a fair support to Jenny and Renay and other Deaf who tried to explain the real issues on hand to you.

Patricia Raswant writes:

As a matter of fact, sadly, the majority of Pre-K children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing are invariably NOT ready for Kindergarten. Hands and Voices organization published an article on preschoolers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH). The article recommends,”Make sure that a thorough language assessment has been made and completed so that current skills, strengths, and weakness are clear. This should minimally include an in-depth language assessment looking at ALL aspect of language and speech development a cognitive assessment.” (Paragraph 2, lines 1-6).

HB 676 neither includes language acquisition benchmark NOR assessment, much needed tools at the state level. The language acquistion benchmark and assessment would greatly benefit ALL pre-K children who are DHH and their families to ensure that they are on course with their language and speech development. This way they would be fully ready for Kindergarten. Based on the facts as explained above, all delegates ought to vote NAY on HB 676.

Jeanne Lavelle writes:

This is Jeanne Lavelle from Fairfax, VA and President of Virginia Association of the Deaf.

Please VOTE NO on HB 676. It is not helping Deaf Children. It is a medical view which is totally fallacious with no language experts. HB 676 perpetuates the status quo of the medical system of 70 years of AGBELL. We beg you to vote NO to HB 676. You don't go to the hospital for language. You go to language experts! Bills like this are exactly why we have more than half of Deaf preschoolers already language delayed in Virginia. There are no stakeholders from Deaf experts on the advisory committee as prescribed in HB 676.

This bill is to spite us when we tried to propose our LEAD K Bills, HB 848, now dropped, and HB1410 and SB160, both carried over to 2019 session. Partons Del. Brenda Pogge also chairman of State Disability Commission and Del. Dickie Bell shockingly siding with AGBELL stole some of the wordings from LEAD K bill and twisted to develop 676 bill. Bell ironically sits on Virginia Association of the Deaf and Blind’s Board of Visitors for many years. Yet, sadly, he lacks an understanding the best approach for Deaf children nor has he the compassion to help. We the Deaf community are honest and know what is right for Deaf children because we went through it ourselves growing up with language deprivation.

Dept of Education (DOE) and BHDS should be responsible for Deaf kids ages birth to 5 years old. This HB 676 bill does not require them to gather data and forces accountability. Last year DOE admitted that more than half of the Deaf preschoolers are language delayed/language deprived. BHDS has no data on Deaf kids' languages from birth to 3.

We believe that Deaf children benefit from American Sign Language (ASL), a natural visual language. However, our goal is language acquisition regardless of the language used, whether ASL or English or both. Deaf children who have language are Kindergarten ready. LEAD K never asked to require the use of ASL. The goal is to achieve language attainment regardless what language you use.

Please VOTE NO. For years people without disabilities have been trying to make decisions for marginalized disabled people. This is outright ableism! Please have compassion. We are the good group, LEAD K supporters.

Pete Mueller writes:

Please support HB676. This bill will bring much needed resources to families of deaf and HOH children, making sure that parents receive complete, unbiased information so they can make the choice that works best for their family.

Jamie writes:

I grew up in the time of "sink or swim" for deaf kids. That is, we were raised orally and had to sink or swim. I swam, but I met deaf kids and teens who had sunk. In college I met a deaf teen who had not had any language til age six when her family finally tried ASL. I could very easily have been one of the kids who sank. The main problem I have with this bill HB 676 is that the proposed subcommittee does not have any native American Sign Language Users on it. No adults who grew up using sign language. Only one parent who chose to use American Sign Language with their child. And one "professional" who has skill in ASL. Not good enough. Put a native ASL user on the subcommittee or this bill does not deserve to be supported.

Jess writes:

Vote yes- more resources is a good thing!

SC writes:

Voted NO HB 676,language delayed or deprived.

Deaf cousin of deaf CI child

Wayne and Bobbie Dietz writes:

We both vote NO NO NO to this bill HB 676! Both of us are born Deaf. We went to Deaf residential Schools to get good education, thanks to our parents' choice! We graduated from colleges, Bachelors Science and Masters degree respectively. Wayne worked at Post Office where the majority of workers are hearing. He did not have problems communicating with hearing workers because of his two languages: ASL and English. Bobbie retired from teaching at Deaf school with over 30 years. Our parents got help from schools, not medical professionals. The language professionals explained the importance of learning ASL. We need ASL-language professionals to let parents of Deaf/Hard of Hearing children know what resources are available. Put ASL-LANGUAGE PROFESSIONALS ON THE COMMITTEE!! Medical professionals are lacking in that area.

Kim writes:

Vote YES. Parent information, choice ,and support is essential for a child's progress. Many here are posting based on experiences with old technology and methodologies and seem to only want to support ONE method. One size fits all has never worked, be is ASL OR LSL. What is wrong with giving parents unbiased information?

Katherine Malady writes:

Despite what proponents of HB 676 say, the original legislation proposed by LEAD-K, HB 1410, (which has been carried over until 2019 due to the efforts of the opposition) will not force families to use ASL, or any other language or language modality. HB 1410 does not oppose the use of CIs or Spoken English for deaf children. HB1410 will not threaten parent choice. HB1410 will
• collect available resources on language (ASL and English) acquisition, including developmental milestone measures and language assessments, and post them on the state website for parents to access
• collect data regarding language acquisition of deaf children in VA and post this data on the state website so that parents can see which resources are effective and make educated and unbiased decisions regarding their child’s language development

Again, HB 676 does not call for any data collection. The purpose of the proposed committee is to make recommendations to the Disability Commission regarding best practices for language acquisition for deaf children, but this is to be done WITHOUT the inclusion of language educators or language specialists and WITHOUT any hard data to show what the true best practices are! To date, Deaf/HOH children from birth to age 5 are not assessed to ensure their language acquisition and there is no statewide tracking of language acquisition assessments.

Please vote NO to HB 676. It is not an effective solution to end the language deprivation that is pervasive among Deaf/HOH children.

Kim Rock writes:

Say NO to HB 676 and say Yes to stop listening to so-called hearing experts and start listening to Deaf experts!! I mean , COME ON!!

Annette Clark writes:

I vote NO to HB 676 parents needs to know other options. Not just cochlear implant but others as hearing aids or sign language and different deaf schools and learn sign language. Also deaf culture and deaf communities. Parents of deaf child need to know others information with all this. Please hospitals, doctors, counselors, should know other options what I just said.

Mark Bonnell writes:

Vote YES! It'll help the children to reach the full potentials. There are less than 100,000 ASL users in the nation today and they are not speaking for all 30+ million people with hearing losses.

Torii Deaner writes:

Vote NO to HB 676!

I'd like to share my personal story. I became profoundly deaf when I was 8 months old due to spinal meningitis. My hearing parent took the sign language class when I was 4 years old so they could communicate with me even through they weren't fluent in ASL - just basic communicate and yet the doctor advised them not to use ASL at all. So my parent thought maybe if I take the speech therapy that would help me to learn to read and write, then I'd be a normal girl like other normal hearing kids. I did wear the hearing aids just to help me hear a little but I was already delayed in my language. I went to a mainstream school for 11 years and I spent so much time in a speech therapy and so far behind in reading and writing. My amazing interpreter/teacher knew the mainstream school deprived my social and communicate, so she highly recommended my parent to send me to a deaf school and I'm glad they did! I met so many AMAZING Deaf mentors, deaf culture, social life, participated in many activities and sports, ASL and English that I never experienced before. ASL is the definitely best tool I have ever had. I am so thankful for my parent to be open minded and they just wanted me to access all resources. I graduated college and I have been a Mechanical Designer for about 13 years now. I have worked with the hearing Engineers and others, we prefer using instant messaging, emails, and texting so far I'm doing just fine. :)

I read someone's blog and it says "Language deprivation is almost like stealing a piece of your soul." I agree 100%. I do not support HB 676. This bill is no good. Please do a good research, contact National Association of Deaf, Nyle DiMarco Foundation, LEAD-K, join many groups with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on Facebook. I encourage you to vote NO.

Kevin writes:

I can agree that you decided where your daughter should fit in with your family, and that she is right where you want her to be. Thank you for agreeing that having a Deaf child doesn’t make one a representative for our communities, however I’ve never discredited your daughter as a Deaf representative. She will make that decision for herself one day, and I do know that there’ll be a moment when she will choose either to represent or become reluctant to. You’ve misinterpreted Rhonda’s statement asking where we are? Sign language natives like us understood well enough that she was getting our attention to call us out and take our stands against the oppression, so her statement wasn’t meant for everyone especially you. You asked me who am I to say who stands as a representative to Deaf communities, and my answer is simply my people and myself naturally. Who did you thought we’re representing after all? Whilst you believed that I only see a one sided story, you’ve neglected that I had lived by socializing with many who know both sides of these stories. Who are you to know what I’ve seen? I know from my experience that not all parents always made the right decisions. And you’re right, not all children will share the same choice as the best interest.

Sherri writes:

The concern of child’s language development should be condone in ASL. The child is too young to recognize sounds with little or no ability to hear with or without hearing aid (including cochlear implants). I am deaf adult, wore hearing aid for 30 years and I am native signer. With speech therapy, I was and still not fluent in speaking because I am deaf with moderate hearing loss. With hearing aid, it helps me to hear my surroundings and I still do not recognize many sounds. Many cochlear implant users can attest they experienced the same. With sign language, we have full access to communicate and to learn with our eyes that function better than our ears. Don’t be ignorant.

Tracy Grant writes:

My wife and I are certified ASL interpreters, Gallaudet University alumni, Advocates and Allies. But, first and foremost, we are mothers to our beautiful son, Oliver. He is 4 1/2 years old and Deaf (Deaf with a D, not deaf. Deaf and proud to be member of the Deaf community, Deaf history, Deaf culture, etc). He was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (Profound loss-right ear and moderate loss- left). Prior to our adoption, Oliver desperately wanted to understand those around him and to be understood. But that right, his right to his own language, was stolen from him because of ignorance and/or naivety. He was deprived of language until he was 2 1/2. He would become so frustrated and angry because he could not express or comprehend others, he began to self harm.

We adopted him about 1.5 years ago and ASL is his primary mode of communication/language and is flourishing. His L2 (English) is only benefiting from having an ASL language-rich environment at home (family involvement, younger sister (SODA) is almost 3 and is bilingual in ASL and English- has been since about 6 months old) and at school (total communication program, not ideal but options are limited and we also homeschool to provide extra support and exposure.

Since then, he has gone from absolutely no language whatsoever to now knowing all 26 letters in the alphabet in ASL and English (lowercase and uppercase, in order or not), can count to 15 independently in ASL or in written English and is able to read and identify them as well, he is able to write his name in "written English" (beautifully, I might add), spell his name (FS in ASL), read/recognize his name anywhere he sees it, able to read a few beginner level books- far surpasses his hearing peers in all areas. Would be considered Kindergarten ready.

But he is unable to speak or communicate in Spoken English, because he is Deaf, but also as a result of other medical issues.... HB676 says their goal for deaf or hard of hearing is to be "linguistically ready for kindgarten as his hearing peers" and "receptively and expressively literate in English and literate in written English by the end of third grade". Basically, they expect Deaf/HOH children to be able to listen and hear, despite their hearing loss, and use spoken English to communicate. Because, if one can't hear or speak English, they can't be successful and happy right?? (Catch my sarcasm?) Despite my sons amazing abilities, AG Bell is right there to say he "fails" again. He will never be able to satisfy their "goal".... So now what happens? Something else left out of this bill. This bill offers no alternatives, if a child is unable.

Even though my son is unable to use spoken language to communicate, his expressive and receptive skills, in HIS language, comparable to his hearing peers and not impacted or hindered in the slightest. He is "linguistically ready for Kindergarten" without English as his L1. As his parents, it is our right to decide the best method of communication for our child. And more importantly, it is my son's right to have access to any and all languages and his right to determine which one he is most comfortable with. I strongly believe that HB676 contradicts/violates current legislation under VDOE, VA's Deaf/HOH children Bill of Rights, multiple facets within my child's IFSPs and IEPs, Virginia school districts guidelines for working with Deaf/HOH, IDEA, Section 504, FAPE, LRE, US DOE, etc. The US DOE states in "Deaf Students Education Services",

- "Meeting the unique commutation and related needs of a student who is deaf is a fundamental part of providing a free appropriate public education to the child".

- "The Secretary believes it is important that State and local education agencies, in developing an IEP for a child who is deaf, take into consideration such factors as: 1. Communication needs and the child's and family's preferred mode of communication, 2. Linguistic needs, ... “

Furthermore, the US DOE even states, " The disability of deafness often results in significant and unique educational needs for the individual child. The major barriers to learning associated with deafness relate to language and communication, which, in turn profoundly affect most aspects of the educational process... Acquiring basic English language skills is a tremendous challenge for students who are deaf".

Some children and their families may benefit and thrive under AG Bell and their philosophy, with cochlear implants (when taken off, they are still deaf), or communicating through Listening and Spoken Language (and for some reason people believe this nonsense... Listening and Spoken Language is a term coined by AG Bell, the all mighty dollar and their desire to cash in on you and your child's disability. There is no money in ASL or the community of those who use it. Linguistics 101 refresher course, Listening and Speaking is NOT a language.

While AG Bell may have the money to corrupt politics, it pales in comparison to the fury that is brought by the Deaf community and parents of Deaf children. My son has not, is not and will not fall prey to their sick and twisted lies to earn a buck. I refuse to allow such a biased, backward thinking, discriminatory organization decide what is best for my child and his future. I also refuse to allow them to impose their definition of success on my son or dictate to me how to raise my child. My child is not broken and does not need to be fixed. AG Bell has already corrupted the medical field. Please don't let them do the same to our children's education. Please don't allow them to steal our son's education and right to ASL. AG Bell, their philosophy and approach, this bill is not the end all, cure all. Who is really intended to benefit from this bill? Surely, it is not my son. AG Bell, Let the parents be parents.


Mark Valimont writes:

I am so proud of being Deaf and from ASL/Deaf community where my current 4th generation of Deaf is. ag bell and we never get along. they are very strong with lies , twist, and destroy ASL/Deaf communities. they are not your parents. they are not our parents. they are not Real DEAF and not Real ASL. they are just orally imaginary people to use fairy tales and waste your money and time for nothing. We still have a hard time communicating with orally people. they have a hard time communicating with us. Due to their close minded. they do not want ASL at all. they just want to FIX Deaf into a hearing person. they hardly identify themselves for years years and years. they should be moved to Deaf Schools to recognize themselves and realize what Deaf is about. Deaf is so special and smart. ag bell should leave ASL/ DEAF alone. they STILL meddles our communities which violates civil rights. ag bell shall no longer be founded. Excuse my thoughts. Thank you.

Mark Valimont writes:

We do not support the bill, HB 676.

Rebecca Napier writes:

Please vote for HB 676. I am a parent of a profoundly deaf child. My husband and I are in full support of Parental Choice and this Bill.

Scott writes:

I do not support HB676.

D. writes:

I am a retired Teacher of the Deaf originally from New Jersey and presently in Virginia since 1993. I taught in an oral/aural day school for the Deaf starting in 1972 until we moved to Virginia in 1993. I am a product of Oral/Aural Training from Kean University in New Jersey where I was a strong supporter of the AGBell Association. Being brand new in the field of Deaf Education I had nothing to compare with.
All of my 4 year undergraduate training and then the first four years of classroom teaching in the school for the Deaf reinforced my belief that my students needed an oral education in order to be successful and productive members of society. I see now how wrong I was and what a disservice we at that school did to our kids.

My school was opened originally by a group of parents whose children were born in the 1960s as a result of the Rubella Epidemic. We had between 125 to 150 deaf students enrolled because the parents did not want to send them to our residential school in Trenton, NJ. So started the Millburn Avenue School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Fast forward to 1975. The Oral/Aural method was failing our students who were now 8, 9, 10 years old and struggling to communicate. After much soul searching and visitations to schools in and out of state who had started using the Total Communication approach ( Oral/Aural AND signing at the same time with equal emphasis on both) we connected with the New York University Deafness and Research Training Team to train two day schools to begin using Total Communication in all classrooms. This changed the lives of our students who had struggled both in school and at home to be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings as well as to make academic progress. Although our students made great progress in school, many of them going on to MSSD and later Gallaudet and NTID, we still failed to reach their parents.

I think there is a great misunderstanding of what LEAD K represents. It is NOT the exclusion of the Oral/Aural that AGBell so strictly adhered to but the inclusion of any and all attempts to assure our deaf children are Kindergarten ready with equal access to language from birth to five years old, whether it be Oral/Aural, ASL, Total Communication and/ or any sign system in use today. The focus is on Language equality! Our kids need to have something to say before they attempt to say it. People must listen to WHAT they say rather than how they sound when they say it! Sign Language promotes a deaf child’s articulation and desire to communicate effectively with hearing people. When a child signs a word but struggles to articulate orally that word it takes the guesswork out of figuring out what is trying to be said. Right at least hat moment a speech lesson can begin!

I could go on and on sharing my personal experiences over my 43 years of involvement with deaf children and the deaf community. I remain in contact today with many of those first students of mine and with whom I have had numerous conversations and who share with me how OralAural only failed them. AGBell should be grateful to join together with supporters of LEAD K in their efforts to assure that deaf children are ready for Kindergarten. I speak from experience.... waiting until a child is eight or nine years old to introduce sign language because the other way failed is already eight or nine years too late! The deaf student will always be behind in school and will forever having to play” catch up” as they have missed the critical years for language development and years of being excluded from the everyday communication in their homes.

Please, please give the same attention, respect, and time to the supporters of LEADK as you have to AGBell. Both groups want the same end result. Our deaf children and their parents deserve it!

Shannon Mueller writes:

HB 676 is about bringing resources to families to support ALL children who are deaf and/or hard of hearing. HB 676 is not about mode of communication. Families are free to decide what works best for them. Please read the bill.

HB 676 is an opportunity to bring everyone to the table to discuss issues facing these children and make recommendations for change.

HB 676 is a chance to access the proper channels for making improvements to our existing processes and procedures in the Commonwealth.

Regarding the medical community, ALL babies must be screened in the Commonwealth for hearing loss at birth. This is done by a medical professional. Families need to know if their child has a hearing loss in the first place. If a baby does not pass the newborn screening, the hearing loss needs to be confirmed. That is a fact. So, no you do not go to the hospital for language but families do need to know if their baby has a hearing loss or not. Right now, too many BABIES are not getting rescreened to confirm that hearing loss and they are falling through the cracks. Then those children are showing up to kindergarten without language. This is not about ASL, Cued Language or Listening and Spoken Language.

HB 676 is about making sure families get the hearing loss confirmed and then accessing the resources that they need regardless of the path the families chooses to take regarding mode of communication.

If you care about children with hearing loss, HB 676 is a bill that we should all be supporting. Say, YES to HB 676

ReBecca writes:

Vote NO For HB 676. This bill represents speaking/listening, not deaf babies/children! Gallaudet already has done all of the research (a DEAF University-meaning they have the Deaf in