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Deaf children: the right to be heard.

New Mexico joined 10 other states when it enacted an educational bill of rights for deaf and hard-of-hearing children this spring.

The new law gives deaf youngsters specific rights: services based on their needs, trained teachers and service providers, peers and adults with whom they can easily communicate, deaf and hard-of-hearing role models, and access to equal education, including extracurricular, social and athletic activities.

A New Mexico task force reported last year that deaf and hard-of-hearing children were not developing effective communication and language skills and that the education system tended to isolate rather than include them.

The law, which went into effect in May, also stipulates that families are entitled to information about their children's education and communication needs, as well as available options and support services.

There are about 500 deaf or hard-of-hearing students in the state, according to the task force.

Representative Daniel Silva, one of the sponsors of the new law, attended the signing ceremony at the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe. He was accompanied by his 4-year-old grandson, Thomas, who attends a preschool run by the New Mexico School for the Deaf.

Silva said his grandson helped him recognize the need for such an educational bill of rights.

STATES WITH A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR DEAF CHILDREN

Eleven states recognize the specific needs of deaf children such as trained teachers, role models and equal education including extra curricular activities.

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Source: National Association of the Deaf
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Trends And Transitions, specific rights for the deaf
Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U8NM
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:246
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