IEPs - Confusion Lifted Transcript
[Title slide appears]
IEPs- Confusion Lifted
Jody Waldo; M.ED.
Parent and Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing
Student and small business owner
[Screen fades and Jody Waldo appears. She is facing the camera and smiling. She begins to voice and the interpreter next to her begins to sign.]
- As a parent of a son who is deaf, I still remember the frustrations of sitting at that IEP table, the individualized education plan. I remember the knots in my stomach and the redness creeping up on my face as we went into those meetings. We already had our daughter, Courtney, and so we felt like we knew how to raise a child. But we didn't how to raise a deaf son. The table was intimidating to us. It was something we never experienced before. We didn't know if we could ask the school district for things or if they would just decide and provide what was needed for our son. At that point we didn't know how to advocate for his needs, we didn't really even know what his needs were. There's no guide on how to raise or educate a deaf child. And there was no guide on how to navigate the school's IEP process. I really just wanted somebody to tell me what was right, what was best and that it was all going to be okay. Our son's future was at stake and we knew making the right decision was really important for him. At one point, the school district wanted to mainstream Logan in a hearing preschool and even at a really young age, he was not yet three, he was able to express that he wasn't happy there, that he didn't feel comfortable and he used ASL so he communicated in a different way than the other children. He was missing out on language, he was missing out on interactions and it just didn't seem right, at least not for him. He was a smart little guy, we knew that and we really just wanted him to be happy and to not have any limits in any way but we didn't know what our options were. So my husband and I, we did a lot of reading, we did a lot of research and luckily for us, we did find answers that fit for our son, Logan. But it wasn't easy. Now many years later, I am a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing, I'm still very passionate about helping my son Logan on his educational journey. He's now in college. But I'm also very passionate on helping the other students that I work with get the best education possible. Luckily, I am not alone on this journey. I'm proud to say I'm part of a team that realized the need for teachers, parents and students who are deaf and hard of hearing. We created a guide called Developing Language and Communication focused IEPs. Finally, we have a guide. I wish I would be able to go back and use a guide like that to help me feel more comfortable going into those meetings and just better be able to advocate for our son. Students like my son, Logan, and other students with hearing loss have different challenges than other kids with disabilities. Their hearing loss can impact their language throughout the day. The lack of access they have can affect their communication with their teachers as well as their peers. It can impact their academics, their language development as well as their social and emotional wellbeing. Teachers and parents need to understand these unique challenges and need to know how to ensure the students have the best education possible. This guide was created to help teams ensure that language and communication is focused on throughout all areas of the IEP. I use the prompts myself with my teams to ensure that the students that we work with have access to language throughout their day as well as that the support and the goals and objectives are unique to students who are deaf and hard of hearing. The parents that I work with use the guide as well as the webinars along with it to develop a better understanding of the IEP process as well as learning how their child's hearing loss can impact them and how to ensure that they get a good education. I really wish I had that. They can watch a mock IEP and actually see a team using the guide as well as get more in depth information to help them just understand the process better. Hopefully then parents can go into these IEP meetings with a sense of comfort and confidence that I didn't have when my son Logan was young. Hopefully they can go in with knowing that they do know what's best and what's right for their child. Although I didn't have a guide like that when Logan was little, luckily he had teachers that worked really hard to ensure he had access to language throughout his day. As a team, we focused on similar principles that are outlined in the discussion guide and Logan truly benefited from that. But who better to tell you that than Logan himself?
[Screen fades out and reappears. Logan is in front of the camera and smiling. He begins to sign.]
- Hello everyone, I'm Logan, Jody's son, and I'm currently a student at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. pursuing a career in law. I also am a small business owner. I look back on all the years of education and it's been a wild ride. I wouldn't be where I am today without my parents especially how much energy and effort they put into communicating with me using my natural language. I cannot emphasize enough how big of a deal that was. My education began in a mainstream environment but we cut that short because my mom noticed that I continually came home upset and unhappy. I couldn't socialize with my friends and my peers so my parents decided to explore other options to see what might work better for me. They went ahead and placed me into Metro Deaf School and even on my very first day, I felt so welcome and I still remember that day. I was a preschool child and that memory has stuck with me ever since. And it was the very first time that I was really ever surrounded by other people who understood what it was like to be deaf. People who could communicate with me using my natural language, American sign language. Other than my parents who learned ASL as I grew up. But as we went out, things were different. Being able to communicate with my parents and my teachers was so important to me because I could express myself and my emotions, explain my frustrations and struggles and that allowed people to help me problem solve and then I could focus on education. I also greatly appreciated that I was heavily involved in my own IEP meetings. I could discuss different goals that I had with my teachers and my parents and things that I personally wanted to pursue. But then also I could understand my parents and teachers set goals for me and what their rationales were for those goals. Being part of my own IEP meetings became a way for me to get independence and for a deaf child, there's so much that is needed for communication and language access so it's important to recognize what your child's natural language and communication tendencies are and then learn with them or learn from them, from your children, from your students. And I'm so happy that someone like my mom was a part of that IEP process. Being able to communicate allows children to think on their own and that alone is more important than any kind of education that they could have. The fact that a child feels understood and loved means that they can think independently. I'd like to close with a quote of one of my favorite people, Gandhi. "Those who know how to think need no teachers." To everyone who's watching and my mom, thank you for everything.
[Quote, “Those who know how to think need no teachers.” ~ Gandhi]
[Ending credits appear.]
The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing for supporting the development of the TED Talks.
Talent – Nicole Brown, Jay Fehrman, Danelle Gournaris, Elise Knopf, Jody and Logan Waldo.
Interpreters – Gina Alvarado, Emory David Dively, Quincy Craft Faber