House panel approves legislation seeking to end language deprivation
The House Families, Children and Seniors Committee today unanimously approved state Rep. Kathy Crawford’s plan promoting language equality and acquisition for children who are deaf and hard of hearing in Michigan.
Crawford’s measure is in response to high rates of delayed language acquisition and language deprivation among the deaf and hard-of-hearing community – particularly children who are American Sign Language (ASL) users. Despite being a recognized language in Michigan, there is currently no formal statewide system to monitor, track and report a child’s language benchmarks in ASL, nor is there any statewide ASL language assessment for children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing from birth to age five.
Crawford, who chairs the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, said the lack of language acquisition and early intervention resources for deaf or hard-of-hearing children who use ASL is resulting in a high number of children who are not prepared for Kindergarten in English literacy, reading and writing.
“When it comes to acquiring language and English literacy, children who are deaf or hard of hearing are already at a disadvantage as compared to their hearing peers,” said Crawford of Novi. “And parents can’t access services because they don’t know how their child is progressing in their language acquisition. This has caused a delay in language acquisition for these children during their most critical years, and has often resulted in language deprivation. Language deprivation can have irreparable consequences that last a lifetime, especially when it comes to future success in the workplace. We need to close the gap and resolve this decades-long issue, get parents the information they need and help provide these kids with the same opportunities as their hearing peers.”
The plan would establish a 15-member advisory committee within the Michigan Department of Education that is made up of parents, educators and advocates who will consult with the department on creating ASL language milestones and assessment tools for children age five or younger. The milestones and assessments would be included in a resource for parents to be able to monitor and track their child’s expressive and receptive language acquisition and developmental stages toward English literacy using ASL, English or both, and may also be used when developing a child’s individualized education plan.
Crawford’s measure will also require the department to distribute the language milestones and assessment tools to intermediate school districts, public school academies and the Michigan School for the Deaf. Each year, the department will report the literacy development of children who are deaf or hard of hearingwho are age five or younger as compared to their peers.
“These poor kids have been forgotten about for too long by our state’s education system, and it’s time we start putting as much energy into their success in the classroom as we do everyone else,” Crawford said. “I look forward to continuing conversations with the department and the governor’s office in ensuring deaf and hard-of-hearing children have equal opportunities to achieve all of their dreams – and that starts with having access to a strong language foundation.”
House Bill 5836 now moves to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
“These are unprecedented times we are facing and we needed a real plan to keep Michigan moving forward in a safe and sensible fashion,” Crawford said. “The Legislature has spent months hearing from concerned residents and we’ve received those concerns and developed a better course of action that will protect people and their families.”
State Rep. Kathy Crawford, chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, issued the following statement after the governor vetoed the Legislature’s plan to improve COVID safety measures for Michigan’s nursing home residents: “The governor has shown time and time again that she cares more about her own optics than she does about […]
State Rep. Kathy Crawford, of Novi, today said the recommendations outlined in the state’s nursing home task force’s report illustrate the need for big changes to the governor’s dangerous COVID-19 nursing home policies.
After nearly 50 years of being forced to purchase what became the most expensive car insurance in the nation, Michigan drivers will finally be delivered the long-overdue rate relief they deserve after the state’s new no-fault law takes effect July 1, Rep. Kathy Crawford announced today. Crawford, of Novi, helped approve a major overhaul to […]