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Student Eligibility Requirements

Students are defined as infants, children, and youth from birth to age 21 years old. There are two parts to special education eligibility for students who are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing. 

  • Part C includes infants and toddlers from birth through age two years old. 
  • Part B includes students aged 3 to 21 years old. 

These eligibility criteria are also used to identify children who have combined hearing and vision loss (deafblind) because hearing loss is part of the criteria for deafblind (Minnesota Administrative Rules 3525.1327).

Who this impacts

  • Students who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing, from birth to age 21 years old
  • Parents of children who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing
  • Teachers of deaf/hard of hearing, including children who are deafblind


Under Part C, an infant or toddler with a disability who has a physical condition is automatically eligible for early intervention services. Because of the potential impacts of hearing loss on a young child’s language development and learning, hearing loss is considered one of the physical conditions that may result in developmental delays if supports are not provided to the child and family. The criteria for developmental delay were updated to include clarification and definition about hearing loss as a “diagnosed physical or mental condition or disorder that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay, regardless of whether the child has a demonstrated need or delay”. 

For more information, refer to the Determining Eligibility for IDEA Part C Infant and Toddler Intervention Services for Young Children with Hearing Differences (July 2019) (PDF).

A student age 3 to 21 years old must meet categorical eligibility deaf/hard of hearing as defined under Part B in the Minnesota Rules Chapter 3525.1331 Deaf and Hard of Hearing in order to receive special education services provided through an Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, for those children who were identified under Part C, special education services may continue. Students who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing have unique needs related to communication which impacts language, academic, and social-emotional development. MNCDHH’s school-age group collaborative team created the Language and Communication Focused IEP Discussion Guide to help teams consider all aspects of development when writing IEPs.

In order to ensure that all students who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing from birth to age 21 years old receive appropriate special education services, the Minnesota Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing continues to monitor any changes that are proposed.

Who was involved?

  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing Advisory Committee - Minnesota Department of Education
  • Kathy Anderson, Statewide Low Incidence Specialist - Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI)
  • Mary Cashman-Bakken, Minnesota Department of Education (Deaf/Hard of Hearing)
  • Cat Tamminga, Minnesota Department of Education (Early Childhood Special Education)
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • School-Age Collaborative Plan Groups - Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH)
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