ASHA Asks for Education, Hearing Screening Funding In testimony before a House subcommittee, 2011 ASHA President Paul Rao called attention to three issues important to audiologists and speech-language pathologists: funding for Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI programs), and the role of audiologists and SLPs in federally funded literacy programs. ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   May 01, 2012
ASHA Asks for Education, Hearing Screening Funding
Author Notes
  • Neil Snyder, director of federal advocacy, can be reached at nsnyder@asha.org.
    Neil Snyder, director of federal advocacy, can be reached at nsnyder@asha.org.×
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Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   May 01, 2012
ASHA Asks for Education, Hearing Screening Funding
The ASHA Leader, May 2012, Vol. 17, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.AN5.17062012.np
The ASHA Leader, May 2012, Vol. 17, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.AN5.17062012.np
In testimony before a House subcommittee, 2011 ASHA President Paul Rao called attention to three issues important to audiologists and speech-language pathologists: funding for Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI programs), and the role of audiologists and SLPs in federally funded literacy programs.
Rao, chief operating officer for inpatient services at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., testified on behalf of ASHA at the March 29 hearing before the Labor–Health and Human Services–Education Appropriations Subcommittee. This subcommittee will develop a fiscal year 2013 funding proposal for federal education and health and human service programs, and other programs that affect services for individuals with communication disorders.
IDEA
Rao emphasized that federal funding of IDEA is authorized to be 40% of the funds required to administer the regulations of the act, but that federal funding has never reached that level. The administration’s 2013 budget proposal (see The ASHA Leader, April 3) “would freeze funding for the program and decrease the federal contribution from 16.2% to 15.8% of the national per pupil average expenditure for FY2013, well below the original target of 40%,” he said.
Rao also indicated that the effects of “sequestration,” as called for under deficit-reduction efforts, will cut IDEA Part B funds by at least $903 million.
“Limiting funding for IDEA places school-based speech-language pathologists, audiologists, schools, and school districts in an unsustainable position,” Rao said. “If this request is enacted, they will face serious struggles to meet their obligations” to serve children and youth with disabilities.
“I ask for this committee to provide the maximum funding available to IDEA,” Rao said, “to revitalize what has become one of our nation’s core educational programs for students.”
EHDI
EHDI programs have significantly increased the number of infants screened for hearing loss at birth, but substantial work remains to ensure that infants diagnosed with hearing loss receive timely and appropriate services. The national figure for those infants who did not receive follow-up services or whose follow-up was not documented was 38% in 2010, with wide variation in individual state rates.
Rao indicated ASHA’s support for appropriate funding for EHDI screening programs and for state programs to link screening programs with diagnosis and early intervention supports.
Literacy and Reading
Under current law, school-based SLPs and audiologists are omitted from initiatives designed to improve literacy. Rao noted that young children at risk of failure in acquiring literacy skills often have a speech, language, processing, or hearing disorder, and that failure to identify these disorders early can interfere with academic success.
“SLPs and audiologists play important roles in ensuring that all children gain access to appropriate instruction in reading, writing, and spelling,” Rao said, but administrators often don’t use the expertise of these professionals when implementing their literacy programs.
Rao urged the committee to avoid limiting the reach of SLPs and audiologists to children already identified with a disability, and to allow states and school districts that receive federal funds to allow—not mandate—school-based SLPs and audiologists on school literacy teams and state advisory boards.
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May 2012
Volume 17, Issue 6