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New laws aim to improve education for students with hearing disabilities

Sign language teacher in a extra tutoring class with a deaf child girl using American Sign Language

Trenton, NJ –  With the goal to improve education in New Jersey schools for children who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deaf-blind, two pieces of legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Raj Mukherji, Ralph Caputo, Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano and Pamela Lampitt were signed into law Aug. 5 by acting Gov. Sheila Oliver.

“No longer will we treat children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing  as second-class students or with expectations separate from that which we would have for any of our children,” said Benson, who represents parts of Mercer and Middlesex counties. “These laws help both parents and students to ensure they are receiving the best education and given the best opportunities using multi-modal means of communication at school.”

The first law, formerly A-1893, establishes a Working Group on Deaf Education to make recommendations on issues related to early linguistic developments of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This group, established within the Department of Education, would consist of 12 members appointed by the commissioner of education.

“Around 96 percent of children with hearing loss are born to parents with intact hearing, who may initially know little about deafness or sign language,” said Quijano, who represents parts of Union County. “This Bill of Rights would give parents a sense of both knowledge and security when it comes to the education their children should be receiving at school.”

The measure passed the full Assembly in June by a vote of 77-0, and the Senate in January, 37-0.

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