I have a child entering a public school, what do I need to know? (IEPs, 504s and more)
If you have, or will soon have, a child who is entering public school and has hearing loss then you need to understand the terms
IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) and 504 which is another type of plan intended to provide students with a disability with an
equal educational opportunity.
In brief, the 504 plan is Civil Rights Law requiring schools to make the accommodations necessary to not discriminate against
students with disabilities. The IEP is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and has many more structured
procedures and requirements for both the student and the school. Both programs are written documents which outline which
accommodations will be made for the student and both programs give parents the right to an impartial review if they disagree with
the accommodations being made.
Typically, an IEP is used when the accommodations required are more extensive. As mentioned, the process for qualifying for an
IEP is more complex as are the procedures for maintaining the IEP. Additional Federal funds are available to schools with IEP
A 504 Plan has fewer guidelines and requirements and is therefore typically easier for a school to follow. Unfortunately, this does
allow some schools the flexibility to determine that certain accommodations are not necessary. 504 Plans do not require Federal
funds to be provided to the school.
In most chat rooms you will find very strong opinions about which plan you should be on and what should be included in your
plan. Clearly, the strong opinions are driven by individual needs in combination with the unique positions of the local school. I
think it is important that one is careful to not go into the first meeting expecting a “battle” with the school. It is smart to be informed,
know your rights and know what you want to achieve. You can always appeal a decision and it is always better to have a
cooperative relationship when possible. We have been fortunate and able to get all the accommodations we feel are necessary
for our son from a 504 Plan but we are clearly prepared to defend our son’s rights should we ever feel the need.
Again, many people will tell you what you “must” include in your 504 or IEP. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of items people
have mentioned they have included in their plans, find those that seem most appropriate to you. You can always add more if
needed in the future. If you have other ideas or suggestions please send them to email@example.com so that they can be added to
this list for the benefit of others.
- Report all head bumps or head related injuries to parents immediately so that we can watch for hearing drops
- Because student’s hearing can, and will, fluctuate please let parents know if you believe that students hearing has dropped
(teachers often notice before the student or the parent)
- Preferential seating (for hearing and/or better viewing of the speakers face or to benefit a better hearing ear)
- Request that the teacher always face the student when talking (not talking to their white-board or blackboard)
- A functional listening evaluation conducted by a licensed audiologist at the beginning of the school year
- An FM system for the student
- A voice amplification system for the student
- Training in using sound systems (FM, amplification, other) for all people who will be working with student (coach, music,
- Hearing evaluations every ______. (up to you, we are still trying to establish a baseline on our son’s hearing so we try to
get a check every 3 or 4 months, others do once or twice a year)
- (If on a 504 Plan) Student will be evaluated for an IEP within 10 days of a significant loss of additional hearing.
- Minimizing talking when the student is expected to be working (most HOH people have to shift their concentration from what
they are doing to concentrate on the person speaking and then shift it back again)
- Support verbal instruction with as much visual instruction as possible (hand-outs, white-board etc)
- If you suspect that a comment made, or answer given, was difficult to hear please restate the comment (i.e. – Josh correctly
answered that 6 plus 6 is 12)
- Try to ensure group discussions include only one speaker at a time
- If you break up into groups please try to assign the students group to a quite location
- Acoustic room accommodations: acoustic ceiling tiles, wall coverings, seat away from air conditioners or noisy machines,
carpeted floors or pads on chairs feet
- Speech therapy
- Lesson plans in advance so that you can prepare student for the material to be covered (especially new words)
- Please make sure that when you introduce new words student has the opportunity to see them in writing as it may difficult
to understand the word verbally the first few times it is introduced (it has been suggested that it typically takes between 7
and 12 encounters with a new word to gain comprehension)
- Daily/weekly functional tests of sound equipment
- Give Student option to select a different seat if they feel it will help them hear better
- Check for comprehension using open ended questions
- Place a red/green indicator card on students desk which they can use to let the teacher know if they are having difficulty
hearing without disrupting the class
Other links and resources
Here is a letter that I provide to those who work with my son at his school: School Letter
This is the "Speech Banana" referred to in the School Letter: Speech Banana
If you need to get into the legal aspects of the law, or want additional training, this site has loads of information available, most of it
for sale. The site hosts are lawyers specializing in this part of the law www.wrightslaw.com
Good, but older, article on Learning Disability Online’s website explaining the difference between an IEP and a 504 http://www.
This site is dedicated to helping achieve better sound characteristics for ALL children in today’s classrooms. I honestly have not
spent much time on this site but it has been recommended by some parents and seems to have some good information: http:
I have also seen people recommend the book Educational Policy and the Law by Yudof, Krip, and Levin and the book The Law of
Disability Discrimination by Colker and Tucker.
Please help: if you notice any information that is incorrect, confusing, outdated or if you have something you can add please send
an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.