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Under section 504 of 34 CFR 104.33-36, disabled children, including deaf and hearing impaired children are entitled to a free education. Both state and local educational facilities comply with evaluation and placement requirements of 34 CFR 104.34.
The state and local education facilities, in developing an IEP for a deaf child, must take into consideration the communication needs of the child, including the child's preferred mode of communication, linguistic needs, the severity of the loss of hearing and the potential for using residual hearing, the academic level of the child and social, emotional and cultural needs of the child.
If needed, additional needs of an individual child must be taken into consideration. If the severity of a child's needs requires a change in curriculum, the curriculum must be changed to meet the child's needs. This includes evaluators who have knowledge of specific factors “as part of the multidisciplinary team evaluating the student.” This will help to make sure the deaf student's needs are identified.
More information regarding the educational rights of deaf and hearing impaired children can be found at the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OCR/contactus.cfm).
Assistance for the hearing impaired comes in many forms, from telephone equipment and audiovisual equipment to service dogs for the hearing impaired. Employers must provide assistance for the hearing impaired, so that the hearing impaired can get a job. An employer must provide TTY telephones or audio amplifiers if a hearing impaired employee needs that to complete a job. An employer must also allow the hearing impaired to bring an interpreter or a service dog on the job.
Assistance also comes in other forms that are used in everyday life. When speaking to a hearing impaired person, if that person does not have a hearing aid or other mechanical assistance, speak clearly and slowly, but not so slow that it is difficult to follow conversation. Many hearing impaired people can easily read lips. Also, keep in mind that because a person is hearing impaired, this does not automatically mean that person is also mute. Often, a person with a hearing impairment loses his or her hearing later in life and has already learned how to speak. Sometimes, a person that has been deaf or has had a hearing impairment from birth also learns how to speak, but he or she cannot hear him or herself speaking.
There are many deaf organizations containing material about deafness and hearing impairment. These organizations are listed on two pages:
The hearing impaired can do many jobs that a hearing person can do. If an employer does not have the equipment to assist a hearing impaired person to do his or her job, by law, the employer must provide that equipment. An employer must also provide assistance for job interviews, including allowing a hearing impaired person to bring an interpreter if an interpreter is needed.
In most cases, a hearing impaired person's hearing can be corrected to a point that he or she can hear enough to do any job. If a telephone is needed for the job and a hearing aid is not enough, the employer should provide hearing amplifiers for the telephone at the hearing impaired person's desk.
While any employer can hire a hearing impaired person, the federal government also has special hiring practices for the disabled. Most people apply directly to a federal agency or department, then federal employers use a variety of assessment tools to evaluate the applicants. The federal government selects its employees from a list of qualified applicants, and is more apt to hire people with disabilities.
Sometimes, hearing people think that a person with a hearing impairment cannot do everything that a hearing person can do. Most of the time, though, a hearing person does not even realize that person may have a hearing impairment because of hearing aids. Even without hearing aids, a hearing-impaired person can still do all of the things a hearing person can do, even talking on the telephone. With hearing aids and amplifiers, or even cochlear implants for the severely hearing impaired, it is difficult to tell that a person even has an impairment.
There are also support groups and resources for the hearing impaired. These support groups can help determine what kind of hearing aid works best (recommendations), discuss whether cochlear implants were worth it to someone who has them, talk about overcoming obstacles (such as learning how to hear with cochlear implants) and where to get financial aid for the hearing impaired. Financial aid can be used for college and to purchase any special equipment needed to help the hearing impaired attend college.
Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act states that employers must provide reasonable modifications to the workplace and workplace equipment to accommodate people with disabilities. It specifically outlines that employers must provide TTY devices, visual warning alarms (smoke alarms and other alarms) and CCTV, among other things to help a deaf or hearing impaired person do his or her job.
Also, for federal employees, Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 791 requires the federal government to “practice affirmative action to hire and to promote disabled workers.” This includes providing equal access to training and promotion opportunities.
The laws do not cover only someone who has already been in the work environment. An employer must also accommodate a deaf or hearing impaired person during an interview. The federal government must also provide interpreters for federal employees, if an interpreter is requested.
Private employers may deduct the cost of any accommodations made for the deaf or hearing impaired. They may also be eligible for special tax credits. If an employers is found to be noncompliant with regulations regarding hiring people with disabilities, it may be subject to liability.