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November 10, 2004

Victory for AG Bell Children's Legal Advocacy Program

From: AG Bell - Nov 10, 2004

Garrett Yates
Phone: (202) 337-5220, ext. 121
TTY: (202) 337-5221
Fax: (202) 337-5220

Victory for AG Bell Children's Legal Advocacy Program

Ruling Orders Reimbursement for Educational-Related Expenses

Washington, DC, November 10, 2004 - The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) Children's Legal Advocacy Program scored another victory on behalf of children who are deaf or hard of hearing seeking spoken language education in the public schools. In E.N. vs. St. Johns County School Board (FL), the State of Florida Division of Administrative Hearings ordered reimbursement of educational-related expenses for the family of a three-year old girl born profoundly deaf.

In the October 27 decision, the judge ruled that a varying exceptionalities classroom, which contains children with a variety of special needs, offered by the St. Johns County School Board did not meet the requirements for a child with hearing loss using spoken language communication. The girl uses a cochlear implant to process sound and learned to listen and talk at the Clarke-Jacksonville Auditory Oral Center for Deaf Children.

In the decision, the judge ruled that, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirement for free and appropriate education (FAPE), the evidence indicated that none of the County's programs offered an educational setting designed specifically for pre-schoolers with cochlear implants using spoken communication. The evidence also showed that the programs lacked professionals with the necessary knowledge, training and experience, as well as parent training and on-going mapping services for the cochlear implant. Furthermore, the judge found that the proposed placement would likely cause the child's language skills to regress, acknowledging the "narrow window of opportunity" to acquire language during the pre-school years.

"AG Bell's goal is to ensure that all children who are deaf or hard of hearing and use spoken language as their primary mode of communication have access to appropriate educational placements and related services," said K. Todd Houston, Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO, AG Bell. "This ruling sends a clear message about the specific elements that should be in place to support any child with hearing loss who is learning to listen and talk."

Launched in 2001, AG Bell's Children's Legal Advocacy Program has successfully advocated for appropriate spoken language services in several cases, including The Matter of D.D. vs. Foothill Selpa (CA) and Megan C. vs. ECI LifePath Systems (Texas). The program also provides information and resource referrals to families of children with hearing loss through parent advocacy services. 


The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is a lifelong resource, support network, and advocate for listening, learning, talking, and living independently with hearing loss. Through publications, outreach, training, scholarships, and financial aid, AG Bell promotes the use of spoken language and hearing technology. Headquartered in Washington, DC with chapters located in the United States and Canada and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell's global presence provides its members and the public with the support they need-close to home. With over a century of service, AG Bell supports its mission: Advocating Independence through Listening and Talking! For more information, contact AG Bell at (202) 337- 5220 or visit the AG Bell website at