ASHA-CED Committee Leaves Policy Document Legacy The Joint Committee of ASHA and the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED) recently disbanded, marking the conclusion of a 30-year relationship that produced seven practice documents and improved the quality of professional services and education for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. The ASHA Board of ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   November 01, 2010
ASHA-CED Committee Leaves Policy Document Legacy
Author Notes
  • Susan Lenihan, is associate professor of communication disorders and deaf education and director of deaf education at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Mo. Contact her at slenihan@fontbonne.edu.
    Susan Lenihan, is associate professor of communication disorders and deaf education and director of deaf education at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Mo. Contact her at slenihan@fontbonne.edu.×
  • Nancy Sager, is a consultant in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs in the California Department of Education. Contact her at nsager@cde.ca.gov.
    Nancy Sager, is a consultant in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs in the California Department of Education. Contact her at nsager@cde.ca.gov.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   November 01, 2010
ASHA-CED Committee Leaves Policy Document Legacy
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 31-38. doi:10.1044/leader.AN3.15142010.31
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 31-38. doi:10.1044/leader.AN3.15142010.31
The Joint Committee of ASHA and the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED) recently disbanded, marking the conclusion of a 30-year relationship that produced seven practice documents and improved the quality of professional services and education for students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
The ASHA Board of Directors voted July 2 to discontinue the committee after deciding that the committee’s purposes were being met through other well-established committees, including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance (DHHA) and the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH). The DHHA is a 14-member coalition that serves “as a bridge among interested organizations, the general public, and the community of people with disabilities on matters concerning deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired individuals”; JCIH addresses “issues that are important to the early identification, intervention, and follow-up care of infants and young children with hearing loss.”
Natural Environments
During the past three decades, the Joint Committee produced many documents that continue to guide clinical practice. To clarify the concept of and make recommendations on “natural environments,” for example, the committee approved a fact sheet on the topic. The 2006 document, Natural Environments for Infants and Toddlers Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and Their Families, addresses effective advocacy for appropriate environments, services, and resources for this population.
“We prepared the fact sheet because many professionals reported that center-based programs were closing because of ‘natural environments,’” said Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, committee member. “There was a misinterpretation that services delivered in natural environments were limited to the home.”
Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that early intervention services, “to the maximum extent appropriate, are provided in natural environments, including the home, and community settings in which children without disabilities participate; and are provided in conformity with an individualized family service plan adopted in accordance with section 636” [Sec. 632(4) (G) (H)].
The legislation permits services in other settings, as determined by the individualized family service plan team, only when early intervention cannot be achieved satisfactorily for the infant or toddler in a natural environment. Sass-Lehrer emphasized the need for family support. “Professionals recognized how important it was to have services in settings where families could get support from other families, and have access to a number of different professionals including early interventionists, audiologists, physical therapists, and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing,” she said.
Gayla Hutsell-Guignard, a member of the Joint Committee in 2006, noted that although families may benefit from receiving services in the home, the needs of some children and families are best served in other venues. Center-based settings may offer a better listening environment for infants and toddlers who use assistive listening technology, Hutsell-Guignard said.
“Children who are deaf or hard of hearing and who use spoken language need regular access to diagnostic tools, such as hearing aid measurement or cochlear implant mapping equipment, along with a team of professionals who can meet their needs,” she said.
Service Delivery Settings
The fact sheet describes the components of a natural environment, which includes family members and caregivers, is developmentally appropriate, and provides direct communication for the infant-to-toddler with peers and adults. This environment should provide opportunities for families to meet with professionals who are knowledgeable about communication development in children with hearing loss and to interact with other families. Natural environments include the home, child care center, or school, and should be easily accessible to families.
Sass-Lehrer believes that many infants and toddlers now receive appropriate services through programs that combine home-based intervention with center-based services, but some programs still limit services to the home. “The fact sheet reminds all members of the care team to focus on the child’s needs,” she said.
More information about the ASHA-CED Joint Committee recommendations on selecting service delivery settings, web resources related to natural environments, and a list of the committee’s documents are available on The ASHA Leader Online (search “natural environments”).
ASHA-CED Joint Committee Recommendations in Selecting Service Settings for Families and Children
  • Consider home, community, and program settings (including center-based programs) that provide full support for language and communication development for the child and family

  • Base recommendations on a comprehensive assessment of the child and the family’s priorities, resources, and concerns

  • Provide families with comprehensive information about all programs and providers

  • Encourage families to visit all programs providing services to young children with hearing loss and their families

  • Support families in selecting the programs, providers, settings, and services that best meet the needs of the child and family

  • Recommend programs and services that employ qualified providers who are fluent users of the language(s) and communication modality (or modalities) of the child

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November 2010
Volume 15, Issue 14