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Reviewing the Placement

This information is part of an online guide, Resources for Mainstream Programs

There are many factors in determining the most appropriate educational environment for a deaf or hard of hearing child. IDEA encourages all children with disabilities to be educated in the least restrictive environment. The law defines this as:

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities must be educated with children who are not disabled.  Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment can occur only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.   

However, the LRE for a deaf child may be different from the LRE for a child who is not deaf. The U.S. Department of Education has provided guidance as to what LRE means for a deaf child.  It said “[R]egular educational settings are appropriate and adaptable to meet the unique needs of particular children who are deaf. For others, a center or special school may be the least restrictive environment in which the child's unique needs can be met.” Center or special schools include county based regional programs and schools for the deaf.

The Department also said that there are cases when the nature of the disability and the individual child's needs dictate a specialized setting.  A specialized setting can provide a structured curriculum or special methods of teaching. The Department noted, “Just as placement in the regular educational setting is required when it is appropriate for the unique needs of a child who is deaf, so is removal from the regular educational setting required when the child's needs cannot be met in that setting with the use of supplementary aids and services.”

After the decision to place a child in a regular education classroom-as opposed to a school or program for deaf students-for all or part of each day  has been made, it is important to review it regularly. The placement decision, and the type of services needed to make it a successful one, must be evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine whether the placement is working for the child and, if not, what must be changed.

These pages may be helpful in the process of evaluating the success of the placement:

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American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: IDEA action center.

Bodner-Johnson, B., & Sass-Lehrer, M. (Eds.). (2003). The young deaf or hard of hearing child: A family-centered approach to early education. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co.

Building the Legacy: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004

Children's Hospital Boston: Children with cochlear implants who sign: Transitioning to oral education or a mainstream setting.

Info to Go (2008): Placement Issues. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.


Info to Go. (2009): Schools and Programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.

NASDSE (National Association of State Directors of Special Education). (2007). Meeting the needs of students who are deaf and hard of hearing: Educational services guidelines. (Product number PNA-0603) http://www.nasdse.org

Steinberg, A., Bain, L., Li, Y., Montoya, L., & Ruperto, V. (2002). A look at the decisions Hispanic families make after the diagnosis of deafness. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.