February 19, 2016
Dear Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Members:
California Association of the Deaf would like to let you know that we support National Association of the Deaf’s (NAD) letter from June 22, 2015 urging the House of Representatives to make amendments to SB 2424, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act of 2015. There are good reasons why the ten-page list of proposed amendments should be accepted into the proposed H.R. 1344. The NAD letter outlined some of them such as the need to shift the focus from a medical perspective to an educational perspective to provide all Deaf children with language intervention services.
The current EHDI Act has negative ramifications on the Deaf children and their families that it proposed to serve. It likewise has caused generations of language–deprived Deaf children. The issues related to the EHDI Act and the grantee, National Center on Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) are multi-faceted that it is not possible to cover all of the essential issues in this letter. We shall briefly emphasize on the need to provide all of the Deaf children and their families with all language services, more specifically American Sign Language and English. Sometimes the family speaks a different home language, and it is possible to provide the family with a signed version of their home language!
The one and only purpose of EHDI is to “intervene” so that the Deaf children receive services to become Kindergarten-ready. The Act has been focused mostly on providing hearing interventional services which are not the major need of Deaf children. Those services could theoretically help some Deaf children, but not all. Thus it becomes an exclusionary policy in which it benefits only those children who can acquire a spoken language.
There’s one area that really needs attention, and that’s the name of the Act. If you will look up the definitions of “detection” and “intervention,” you will see that both names have negative definitions.
Detection = discovery, as of error or crime
Intervention (interventing) = to come between disputing people, groups, etc; to occur or be between two things; to interfere with force or a threat of force
Then, there’s the “Early” part of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention. It is as if the professionals are focused only on the “early” part of a Deaf child’s life, never mind how their interventions are doing harm to them in their later ages. The ASL Deaf community proposed: “Early Detection, Confirmation, and Language Acquisition for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children Act of 2015.” We are okay with that except for Early Detection. We would like to see “Family Support” in the name of the Act,
From just looking at the list of proposed amendments, you can see where the shifts need to happen.
If you need additional information, please let us know.