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Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Deaf and hard of hearing children who get special education services have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). An IEP is a written document that explain exactly what services the student will get, and it is a very important part of a deaf or hard of hearing student's education.

Please browse through the questions below for an introduction to IEPs. You will find links to other websites that contain helpful information on IEPs at the bottom.

What is an IEP?
Who writes the IEP?
When and how is the IEP developed?
What is in an IEP?
What happens during the IEP meeting?

What is an IEP?
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document that describes what services the school will provide for a child who needs special education services. IEPs explain how deaf and hard of hearing students will be involved in three areas of school life:

  • The general education curriculum
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Non-academic activities


Who writes the IEP?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), our nation's special education law, requires that the following people are part of the IEP team:

  • the parents of the child;
  • not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
  • not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less then one special education provider of the child;
  • a representative of the public agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities; is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency;
  • an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;
  • other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate (invited at the discretion of the parent or the agency); and
  • the child with a disability (when appropriate).

For deaf and hard of hearing children, professionals such as audiologists and speech-language specialists are likely to be part of the IEP team. If the child has additional disabilities, other professionals may be involved. For example, an orientation and mobility specialist may attend the IEP meeting of a deaf-blind student, and a physical therapist may attend the IEP meeting of a deaf student with physical limitations.

When and how is an IEP developed?
Within 30 calendar days after a deaf or hard of hearing child is found to need special education services, an IEP must be developed. Every year after that, the IEP team meets to review the child's progress towards the learning goals and set new learning goals.

What is in an IEP?
IDEA requires that an IEP contains the following information:

  • Present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;
  • Measurable annual goals , including academic and functional goals;
  • How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and when periodic progress reports will be provided;
  • The special education and related services athat the child will receive;
  • Program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided so the child can make progress towards annual goals; make progress in the general curriculum; and participate in extracurricular and non-academic activities; and to be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children;
  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in extracurricular and nonacademic activities;
  • Individual accommodations that the student needs to measure the academic achievement and functional performance when the student takes State and districtwide assessments;
  • (Note: If the IEP team determines that the child must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular regular State or districtwide assessment of student achievement, the IEP must include a statement of why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child; and
  • The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications, and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services and modifications.

For a closer look at the contents of the IEP, visit the Web site of the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. They provide an in-depth look at each section of the IEP described above.
Contents of the IEP

What happens during an IEP meeting?
Each member of the IEP team shares their thoughts and concerns about the student. The team uses that discussion, along with data from evaluations and assessments, to decide what should be written in each of the areas of the IEP.

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has a detailed explanation of what happens during and after the IEP meeting.
When the IEP Team Meets

 Hands and Voices Advocacy Academy for Families: Course A05:2 “A is for Access: Providing Full & Effective Communication Access for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing


The IEP directly impacts the child’s development of linguistic competence. This 2 hour video/DVD is presented from the perspective of the parent sitting at the IEP table, with real-life examples from Hands & Voices advocacy cases that address the letter and spirit of the law as it relates to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Also emphasized are applications from state and federal case law, Supreme Court precedents, and other disability litigation. Participants walk away with the tools in their hands that can make them more effective advocates for their child/student's educational experience. It is designed for educators, special education directors, program administrators, parent advocates and parents. The evidence that supports this resource is beliefs and values and professional knowledge.

I need a more comprehensive resource. Where can I find one?
"The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for your Special Ed Child," by Lawrence Siegel, is a clear, up to date, and non-technical resource that covers every step of the IEP process. You can read reviews of this book and order it from Amazon.com. It may also be ordered either as an e-book or a hard copy through Nolo.com.


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