Effective Communication is a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In November of 2014 the Department of Justice (DOJ) and US Department of Education (DOE) came out with a joint FAQ to clarify that schools are responsible for following the ADA, in addition to IDEA and Section 504. As we begin the discussion of what does school look like in Post-COVID-19 settings we are proactively sharing anticipated accessibility barriers, in hope that districts, SELPAs and the DHH students and families can work together collaboratively to educate and find solutions.
If masks become a requirement when schools resume in person teaching, some items for consideration are:
- Does the mask allow for Deaf and Hard of Students to see facial expressions, non manual markers (ASL), and lips of the people they are communicating with?
- Are there enough specialty masks for all staff and students who interact with the DHH student?
- For Itinerant Teachers and related service providers, when considering health and safety of students are multiple specialty masks provided per professional based on itinerant support across multiple classrooms, campuses etc.?
- Is the speaker's voice distorted from mask wearing? If so, what additional accommodations may be necessary to ensure effective communication? Ex. CART/Captions
- Ask your DHH students to see what they have discovered is working or not working for them, accessibility solutions are not one size fits all and having these conversations now can save time, energy, and resources.