Schools Must Offer Communication Supports, Feds Say
By MICHELLE DIAMENT
November 13, 2014
The Obama administration is reminding schools of their wide-ranging responsibilities to students with disabilities who struggle with speech and other communication difficulties.
In guidance issued Wednesday, federal officials said the nation’s public schools have obligations under three separate laws to “ensure that communication with students with hearing, vision and speech disabilities is as effective as communication with all other students.”
While requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act vary, schools must comply with all three laws to meet individual needs. That can mean providing assistance ranging from communication boards or Braille materials to sign-language interpreter services and portable speech-generating devices, according to documents sent jointly from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice.
In cases where assistance is needed, schools should give “primary consideration to students and parents in determining which auxiliary aids and services are necessary to provide such effective communication,” the federal guidance said.