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National data says that kids who are deaf and hard of hearing have a mean reading level of 3 grade 8 months when they graduate and that outcomes have not improved significantly since the first special education laws passed in the 70’s. We work with stakeholders to make public policy changes to improve outcomes.

We have led many education efforts over the years. Since 2014, these efforts have been spearheaded by Anna Paulson, MNCDHH's Coordinator of Educational Advancements & Partnerships.


  • Distributed a 4-part video series on the laws and system in place for language acquisition and kindergarten-readiness for children in Minnesota who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing.
  • Released five videos in which 5 members of the Collaborative Plan shared stories about some of the work performed during the first 10 years.
  • Hosted a summit to develop a strategic plan for the next 5 years of the Collaborative Plan.


  • Added an online link to the Resources Binder for Families of Children Identified as Deaf or Hard of Hearing, which is in e-reader format to make it accessible for families who live in Greater Minnesota. Contributed by MNCDHH, Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Minnesota.
  • Reviewed JCIH Goals and Crosswalk with Minnesota Systems. Contributed by Kathy Anderson, Nicole Brown, Anna Paulson, and Kara Tempel.
  • Organized  VCSL training in Minnesota for Deaf Mentors and Early Interventionists. Contributed by Kathy Anderson, Joan Breslin-Larson, Danelle Gournaris, and Anna Paulson.
  • Successfully lobbied for funding increase for the Deaf Mentor Family Program. 
  • Reviewed Minnesota statute and compared to national initiatives about LEAD-K.
  • Produced a webinar for parents by parents about Developing a Communication and Language Focused IEP: A Discussion Guide. Contributed by MNCDHH, Minnesota Department of Education, Kelly Anderson, Digiterp Communications, Ann Mayes, Nanette McDevitt, Jody Waldo, Mai Lor, Adan Burke, Sunny Brysch and many individual community members.
  • Developed mini-lessons for professionals that are associated to Developing a Communication and Language Focused IEP: A Discussion Guide. Contributed by the Minnesota Department of Education and MNCDHH.
  • Snapshot survey requesting real-time information from students who are D/HH. Contributed by Brenda Ackerson, Joan Breslin-Larson, and Anna Paulson.
  • Tracked tiered licensure legislation.
  • Social skills checklist: reviewed for the Minnesota Department of Education. Contributed by Ann Mayes, Susan Rose, and Valerie Shirley. The checklist was authored by Julie MacRae and Sara Noble.
  • Pursued data from the State Longitudinal Education Data System. Contributed by Elise Knopf, Anna Paulson and Meredith Fergus (Office of Higher Education).
  • Updated and disseminated the Post-School Outcomes Survey (2nd year). Contributed by Mary Cashman-Bakken, Jay Fehrman, Elise Knopf, and Anna Paulson.
  • Hosted the 2017 Collaborative Experience Conference. The members of the conference planning committee were Brenda Ackerson, Mary Cashman-Bakken, Diane Dohnalik, Jay Fehrman, Debbie Golos, Michelle Isham, Katy Kelley, Elise Knopf, Susan Lane-Outlaw, Laura Godfrey, Ann Mayes, Chelsea Paulson, Deanne Rothbauer, and Terry Wilding.


  • Developed a mechanism for family access to all available resources and information that is accurate, well-balanced, comprehensive, and conveyed in an unbiased manner. 
  • Assisted in successful effort to secure funding for Adult Basic Education (ABE) at Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD)
  • Won passage of funding so that parents of deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing Pre-K students can choose to send them to the Metro Deaf School.
  • Introduced The Discussion Guide for Language and Communication Focused IEPs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners, a tool designed to assist professionals serving students with varying degrees of hearing loss. They will be able to use the discussion guide to developing language and communication-focused individualized education programs through the special education process.


  • Secured funding for improved technology for Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD).
  • Created a Portfolio of Suggested E.C.-Deaf/Hard of Hearing Interventionist Resources. Contributors: Kathy Anderson, Cassie Haga, and Kristi Townshend.
  • Continued an ongoing process of conducting a system-wide assessment of our progress of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) recommendations. The assessment tool was developed by Nicole Brown and Candace Lindow-Davies.
  • Conducted a pilot study on progress monitoring of deaf and hard of hearing academic students. The research lead is Susan Rose.
  • Developed a Discussion Guide for Developing a Communication and Language Focused IEP (Individualized Education Program). Contributed by Kelly Anderson, Melissa Buck, Deanne Curran, Mandy Fredrickson, Carla Larson, Emily Manson, Ann Mayes, Nanette McDevitt, Susan Meredith, Jody Olson, Susan Rose, Mark Schwartz, Valerie Shirley and Jody Waldo.
  • Coordinated an ASL family class. Collaborative partners: ASLBlend, Independent School District (ISD) 917, ISD 196 and MSAD. Instructors: Jessalyn Akerman-Frank and Kristin Engelhardt-Fischbein.
  • Instated an August administration date of the Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) in order to meet the needs of out-of-state teacher applicants. Collaborative partner: Amy Amundsen.
  • Created a transition age professional development webinars and professional guidelines. Contributors: Mary Cashman-Bakken, Jay Fehrman, Katie Huttmeier, Elise Knopf and Greta Palmberg.
  • Developed the Indicator 14 Post School Survey Tool of collaboration with Jayne Spain of Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Pepnet 2 Minnesota team.
  • Hosted the 2015 Education Symposium for over 300 participants. Professional Team planning committee: Mary Cashman-Bakken, Bart Clement, Diane Dohnalik, Jay Fehrman, Beth Hamilton, Kitri Kyllo-Larson, Cathy Lyle, Jody Olson, Susan Rose, Brooke Pedersen, Melissa Sweetmilk, Kristi Townshend and Ann Vaubel. In addition, we hosted a Parent Conference with the 2015 Education Symposium. Contributed by Kathy Anderson, Emily Burke, Mary Cashman-Bakken and Deanne Curran. We also thank the support staff for the symposium: Michele Isham, Emily Smith-Lundberg, and Brenda Ackerson.


  • Recruited and hired a Coordinator of Educational Advancements & Partnerships.
  • Hosted a successful statewide education summit.
  • Passage of funds for the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD): $700K for asset preservation and $10.5 million for a new dorm.


  • Conducted research through the Management Analysis Division on surveys of parents and a separate one for teachers that set baselines for goals and benchmark for the Minnesota Collaborative Plan. Solicited and received donations from two interpreting agencies to provide gift cards to parents and teachers to provide incentives to complete research surveys. The result was high participation rates and better data.
  • Successful statewide education conference for our Education Collaborative with a national facilitator. Received a 95% satisfaction rate.
  • Increased funds for Deaf Mentors and Parent Guides for children (birth to 6) who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. Funds will come from an increase in the blood spot fee. Increase from $470K for the biennium to $1.8 million a year for parent guides and from $200K for Deaf Mentors to $512K a year.
  • Restore continuing education clock hour requirements in ASL and deaf culture for teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Conducted a reliable and valid survey conducted by the Management Analysis Division paid for by interagency agreements and contributions by Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation and State Services for the Blind to obtain data that can be used to set benchmarks for goals to improve outcomes for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.


  • Engaged in special education re-licensure process with the Board of Teaching. Created a website that explained the history of deaf education law in Minnesota and created a website that describes the requirements needed to become a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing in Minnesota. Encouraged broad stakeholder engagement by publicizing comment periods. We now have an evidence-based set of standards that will help kids get the kind of teacher needed to help them succeed.


  • Mandated Outcome and Improvement Plan Report for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing that is sent to members of the House and Senate Education Committee- the state and the feds don’t require that the statewide testing results have disaggregated data on the 13 disability groups that are covered by IDEA. We advocated for deaf and hard of hearing data to be disaggregated so we could use the data to improve outcomes and used evidence-based research to make recommendations on improving outcomes.
  • Hosted the Minnesota Collaborative Outcome Plan for Children Who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. Cross-agency Steering committee with Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education, Department of Employment and Economic Development (Vocational Rehabilitation and State Services for the Blind) and yearly education summit. Over 30 school districts, nonprofits, parent and deaf and hard of hearing advocacy organizations have committed to using and collecting data to improve outcomes for kids birth to 21 who are deaf and hard of hearing.


  • Mandate that the state has a Coordinator of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention in the Minnesota Department of Education.


  • Adoption of National Access Board and American National Standard Institute Classroom Acoustic Standards by Minnesota Department of Education for new school construction. Research shows that 90% of all classrooms are so noisy students in the back of the room can’t hear their teacher. The new guidelines help planners incorporate good acoustics into their design.


  • Mandate that all sign language interpreters who work in schools have national certification. Prior to the law, only 5 interpreters had certification. Now over 300 do.
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