One of the most frequent questions I receive is from
parents asking how to get their school to provide the AV Approach for their child.
Most of the time the child is already receiving AV services from a private
therapist; the parent just wants the school to pay for it. I'm not a lawyer,
just a parent who has won similar battles with the Insurance company & the Air
Force (whom we convinced to relocate us due to a lack of appropriate services
for our child). To some degree, we also won this battle with the school
district, but you can read about that further down. None of this is to be taken
as legal advice. For that, see a lawyer who specializes in Special Ed.
Above all else, remember that Auditory Verbal Therapy is just one component
of an Auditory Verbal Lifestyle... it is not just a method or a bunch of
techniques and strategies.
Here is basically the path I took, and what helped me. If you click on
underlined text, you'll be taken to that document, or the relevant parts of it.
First of all, I read my rights,
and some parts of the
I didn't just read it, read it again and again till I knew it and could understand
much of it. Another document which I classify as a Must Read is
How the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Applies To Deaf and
Hard of Hearing Students - on the the Clerc Center website. I credit the
author (or should I say blame?), with teaching me much of what I know and I was
delighted when she wrote it. Don't just read it once, it's too much to absorb in
one reading. Read it at least 2-3 times till you know it.
I read one other document:
OSEP Policy Guidance on the Placement of Children Who are Deaf.
OSEP is a sub-branch of the United States Department of Education and are
responsible for ensuring States' compliance with and implementation of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Normally, OSEP Policy Guidance is considered informal guidance and is not
legally binding, but this one is specifically mentioned in IDEA '97, and so it
virtually takes the force of statute. For more on OSEP Policy Statements, please
visit How much weight does an OSEP policy
Parents are an
equal member of
the IEP team and what we have to say must be seriously considered and
not just brushed aside. If they do turn down something we propose, we are
Prior Written Notice - in other words, they have to justify, in writing, why
they turned it down.
Choosing what regs to quote to support what you're asking for can be tricky.
- IDEA '97 says:
"(b) For an individual with deafness or blindness, or for an individual with
no written language, the mode of communication is that normally used by the
individual (such as sign language, braille, or oral communication)."
That's not much help if your child does not yet have language or the child
and family wish to change the mode of communication the child now uses. Compare it
- OSEP Policy Guidance on the Placement of Children Who are Deaf
"The Secretary believes it is important that State and local education
agencies, in developing an IEP for a child who is deaf, take into
consideration such factors as:
1. Communication needs and the child's and family's preferred mode of
Get as many Goals and Objectives into the IEP as possible that directly
relate to AV goals, while not allowing any in for
speech-reading or sign language. This makes it easier
to keep your child out of a TC classroom, as it could be argued that sign
language is a modification of the general education curriculum which is not
specified in your child's IEP. For example, some of your Gs & Os
might be to increase the intelligibility of speech by 20% as measured by the
CID Picture SPINE,
increase spoken vocabulary by 200 words/grading period, improve listening
comprehension as measured by (insert the name of an appropriate test), ask
appropriate questions orally to request information or clarification, and so on.
- Documents you bring to the table can be helpful too, like letters
from your child's doctor, surgeon, or audiologist (the only warning I'll give
on this is that they should not contain the words 'maximum benefit',
Supreme Court has ruled that school districts don't have to give you the
'best' or 'maximum', only what is 'appropriate': "the furnishing of every
special service necessary to maximize each handicapped child's potential is,
we think, further than Congress intended to go."
- In an IEP, these are considered Independent Educational Evaluations.
of IDEA '97 tells us "(c) Parent-initiated evaluations. If the parent
obtains an independent educational evaluation at private expense, the results
of the evaluation (1) Must be considered by the public agency, if it meets
agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to
If they try to tell you AV doesn't work (I've heard that one too),
Outcome Survey of
Auditory-Verbal Graduates: Study of Clinical Efficacy is handy to have on
hand. Also see Language
Progress with an Auditory-Verbal Approach for Young Children with Hearing Loss
by Ellen Rhoades, published in International Pediatrics, 16
Now read some similar case rulings. What you're doing here is learning how
these things are applied in real life situations similar to yours. You're
looking for the terminology, like 'Unique Individual Need' vs 'the best'. You're
looking to learn the proper procedures for IEP's, what things work and don't
work, how to approach getting your child his Unique Education Needs met
as part of a Free and Appropriate Services (FAPE) in his Least
FOOTHILL SELPA - We have AG Bell's Educational Advocacy Initiative
to thank for this one. Here is an excerpt from page 5:
"The real question is where the personnel designated by the FOOTHILL
SELPA to provide the services offered have the necessary background,
training, and experience to implement an appropriate auditory/verbal program
for Petitioner. The answer is that they do not.
While the Foothill SELPS personnel have the requisite credentials,
credentials alone do not necessarily qualify an individual to provide all
possible services under that credential. Conversely, the lack of a
credential does not necessarily render a person unqualified to perform a
service. If that person has a proven record of success, they are qualified
to do the work."
- Eureka Union Sch.
Dist./Placer County Office of Educ - The hearing officer examined the
proposed district program for the student and concluded it was inappropriate.
The district program was not designed to address the student's need for
improvement of his listening and auditory skills and would have required him
to learn a new form of communication. The district program emphasized sign
language, which the student did not need to communicate and would possibly
result in the regression of the student's listening and speaking skills. The
private program provided the student with a FAPE, since it addressed his
listening and auditory skills.
- [Student] v.
Branford Board of Education - Based on all the
documentary evidence and witness testimony, it was concluded that the IEP
offered by the Board was not reasonably calculated to provide the student
educational benefit. Although the IEP offered by the Board seemed to be the
best it could offer, it was not designed to address the student�s unique needs
as a profoundly deaf, cochlear implant child who has successfully acquired the
entirety of his speech and language by means of auditory-verbal therapy,
including committed parental participation, and attendance in the regular
education preschool setting.
- California Case
No: 1076 - The
Hearing Officer concluded that student's unique needs, along with the unique
needs of her family, include auditory-verbal therapy and a regular education
- California Cases No:
1581 - The
Hearing Officer concluded that student requires a program that recognizes his
auditory and oral skills and focuses on developing those skills and that a
DHOH class would, instead, provide student instruction in sign language, a
mode of communication the evidence established student did not need.
- California Case No:
593 - The
Hearing Officer concluded that a preschool class with 1:1 auditory training,
1:1 speech and language services, classroom carry-over, and parent
education--addressed student's unique needs and that a preschool class with
emphasis on the teaching and use of sign language, even though the District
identifies the class as using a total communication approach, did not.
Illinois Case #001231
(summary) - "Parents requested hearing on the issues of FAPE, specifically the
district�s failure to provide Auditory-Verbal Therapy and a sound field system
for their 4 year-old hearing impaired child and failure to place the child in
a regular preschool classroom with non-disabled peers. The hearing officer
held for parents on the issues of Auditory-Verbal Therapy and placement and
for the district on the issue of provision of sound field system. District was
ordered to pay for private AVT and preschool tuition and to reimburse parents
for past payment of these expenses." This ruling was upheld on appeal in
Illinois Case # 002204 - Illinois
District Court Judge orders school system to pay for AVT services
and reimburse day care costs for a child with a cochlear implant.
Jalen v. Alief Independent
School District - The school district was
ordered to provide 12 months of compensatory speech therapy & A-V therapy and
to coordinate with and consider retaining his current AVT.
Many times parents tell me the school told them the only option they would
provide was a TC (Total Communication) classroom.
- OSEP Policy Guidance on the Placement of Children Who are Deaf
states: "This overriding rule regarding placement is that placement decisions
must be made on an individual basis. As in previous policy guidance, the
Secretary emphasizes that placement decisions may not be based on category of
disability, the configuration of the delivery system, the availability of
educational or related services, availability of space, or administrative
- In Doe v. Board of
Education of the Detroit Public Schools, a hearing officer had this to
say: "In developing an IEP for a child who is deaf, OSEP noted it is important
to take into consideration such factors as: the communication needs and the
child's and family's preferred mode of communication; linguistic needs;
severity of hearing loss and potential for using residential hearing; academic
levels; and social, emotional and cultural needs, including opportunities for
peer interactions and communication. OSEP went onto state that: "any setting,
including the regular classroom, that prevents a child who is deaf from
receiving an appropriate education that meets his or her needs, including
communication needs, is not the LRE for that individual child.'"
What if they say your child doesn't qualify for services because her needs
don't impact her educational performance?
- The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) website has a
brief discussion about this on their
School Services: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page
(you must now be an ASHA member in order to view this page). At the
bottom of the page it reads: "The term "education performance" has been
interpreted by the Department of Education and is not limited to "showing of
discrepancies in age/grade performance in academic subject-matter areas. The
extent of a child's mastery of the basic skill of effective oral communication
is clearly includable within the standard of "educational performance" set by
the regulations. Therefore, a speech-language impairment necessarily adversely
affects educational performance when the communication disorder is judged
sufficiently severe to require the provision of speech pathology services to
the child." If communication skills are a required part of the school's
curriculum, and considered to be a basic skill necessary for all children
attending school, then children who have a speech or language impairment would
have a disorder that adversely affects educational performance. State or local
school districts may apply different interpretations to "adversely affects
- Denial of
Eligibility Because of Gifted Intellectual Ability and/or Lack of Failure -
OSEP Policy Letter.
The OSEP policy letter states that "Underachievement is measured against the
student's own ability, and not against a normative performance standard." For
those whose children are not failing because they are receiving outside help
and they're trying to convince the school district to provide that help, the
OSEP letter goes on to state that "Generally, it would be appropriate for the
evaluation team to consider information about outside or extra learning
support provided to the child in developing the written report required at 34
CFR � 300.543, as such information may indicate that the child's current
educational achievement reflects the service augmentation, not what the
child's achievement would be without such help." In other words, it doesn't
impact her educational performance BECAUSE she is getting outside therapy.
- Another OSEP Guidance Letter
Developing Rules for
Determining Whether a Student with an Impairment Needs Special Education and
Related Services states: "In determining whether a child's
impairment adversely affects educational performance, the multidisciplinary
team must consider non-academic as well as academic areas. Therefore, the
assessment is more than the measurement of the child's academic performance as
determined by standardized measures. While State operational criteria are
useful in determining whether a child needs special education and related
services because of an impairment, the multidisciplinary team must have the
ultimate authority to make such determinations using their professional
judgment based on the child's evaluation."
- Your child might be doing well because she has a dual
exceptionality, and the area she is ahead in covers the deficit in another
area. Here is a list of characteristics of gifted students with
specific disabilities (including hearing impairment)
from the ERIC database:
Dual Exceptionalities. If
this is the case with your child, the IEP should reflect this and both areas
of exceptionality should be addressed.
If they say they can't provide AV Therapy because they don't have an AV
Therapist on staff, the rulings I've already mentioned clearly show that if the
school can't meet a child's Unique Educational Need, then they have to pay to
get it from a private source.
Each time I went into an IEP meeting, I went in able to list my son's Unique Educational Needs,
private evaluations or letters from professionals proving that he had those needs,
IDEA's Implementing Regulations showing the school district had an obligation to meet those
needs, OSEP Policy Guidance Letters (whenever possible) clarifying IDEA's regulations relating to those needs, &
situations similar to my child's where the ruling was that the school had to
provide for those needs or pay for someone else to provide for them. (Even if
you don't live in that court's jurisdiction, these rulings can be considered
Once of the comments you'll hear in an IEP meeting, as we did, is that their
therapist can provide AV or do everything an AV Therapist can. Here is the argument we
used when we heard this:
and Competencies for Aural Rehabilitation - from the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
- I won't list the minimal competencies in this document, you can visit
and read that
for yourself. It is worth mentioning though that in their conclusions they
- "In examining the present certification
standards, it is this Committee�s
opinion that they do not require sufficient training of
either audiologists or speech-language pathologists
to meet the minimal competencies as proposed."
|This document outlines the training ASHA feels is necessary to be
qualified to provide Aural Rehabilitation, and states
that they don't believe a traditional SLP has the training to meet the
ASHA's Code of Ethics
- for Speech-Language-Hearing Professionals states (in part):
- Individuals shall engage in only those aspects of the professions
that are within the scope of their competence, considering their level of education,
training, and experience.
- Individuals shall prohibit any of their professional staff from
providing services that exceed the staff member's competence, considering the staff
member's level of education, training, and experience.
- Individuals shall not misrepresent their credentials, competence,
education, training, or experience.
- Individuals shall prohibit anyone under their supervision from
engaging in any practice that violates the Code of Ethics.
|If the school SLP is a member of ASHA, they
should not engage in Aural
Rehabilitation unless they meet the qualifications listed in the above document.
If they're not but their supervisor is, this code of ethics still applies.
|Qualifications for AV Certification Testing
- As determined by AVI, as of July, 2000, to qualify to take the 3-hr A-V certification
written examination, candidates must meet the
- A Masters Degree or equivalent post-baccalaureate education documented
by a diploma in Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology, Education of
Children with Hearing Loss, or related fields as approved by the
- Previous or present holder of the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association (ASHA) Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A),
Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), or the equivalent license or
credentials in Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology, or Education of
Children with Hearing Loss.
- A minimum of three (3) calendar years of professional experience
within the past six (6) years in an auditory based practice without the
use of formal visual communication systems such as cued speech, sign
language, or formal instruction in speechreading.
These three (3) calendar years of professional experience must include
a minimum of 2400 clock hours in activities supporting families utilizing
the Auditory-Verbal approach with their children with hearing loss. These
required hours are based on a 40 hour week with a minimum of 20 clock
hours/week over at least a three (3) year period or 10 clock hours/week
over a six (6) year period. A minimum of 2000 of these clock hours must be
in the delivery of one-to-one parent/child centered direct auditory-based
therapy. The remaining 400 hours may be in communication assessments,
parent conferences, consultations with and inservice of related
professionals, home and school visits, and assistance with audiological
The three (3) calendar years of professional experience needs to be
completed regardless of the number of clock hours you complete in excess
of the 2400 required. It must also be acquired after receipt of your
- A minimum of eighty (80) hours of coursework, observation, internship,
or study in Auditory-Verbal theory and practice within the last three to
six years. This is considered only a minimum number of hours and does not
represent sufficient training for competency in Auditory-Verbal practice.
Documentation for activities described in points a. through f. must be
submitted with your application. Appropriate activities include:
- Attendance at AVI sponsored workshops, conferences, or special programs.
- Attendance at sessions of a major conference (ASHA, AAA, EAA, AG
Bell, etc.) which are focused on Auditory-Verbal development and
Auditory-Verbal intervention strategies and techniques.
- Observation of Auditory-Verbal Therapy conducted by a currently
Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist (Cert. AVT). This can be done via
videotape where travel to the Cert.AVTs� practice is not possible.
- Completion of a professional development week at an established
Auditory-Verbal center or conducted by Certified Auditory-Verbal
- Participation in a local study group under the guidance of a
Cert.AVT reviewing Auditory-Verbal literature and case reviews of
- Completion of graduate level coursework in Auditory-Verbal theory,
practice and techniques at a university/college.
For the most current Qualifications for A-V Certification Testing, please visit the
Certification page on the AVI Website.
A person who is certified as an AV therapist has the additional training
suggested in the Definition of and Competencies document and has
demonstrated this additional knowledge by passing the AV Certification
Testing. (Remember, anyone can call themselves and AV Therapist, but they
can't say they're an AVT-Cert.)
I personally think of it as being a melding of the 3
professions, as diagrammed below.
|Did this approach work for us? We've used it three times. Once with the
Air Force to convince their program for Exceptional Family Members that our
son was not receiving required services, once
with the school district and once with the insurance company. It worked
without any problems with the Air Force and insurance company. With the school district,
it depends on how you look at it as to whether it worked or not. After I
presented them with a copy of the
Definition of and Competencies document, they replied that state law
didn't require them to do that (which I've found is something that they like
to say when faced with having to do something they don't want to do).
We countered with the next 2 items, of course it
helps that the head of the special ed department of speech/language was at
that meeting, and after I presented these, I asked her if she had
her C's. That's all it took. They offered to have our son's services provided by someone
who was working towards certification and that his
services were overseen by a certified AVT located in a town that was in another part
of the state. Since we had an
opportunity to send our son to the mainstream program of a private oral school which provided
everything we had asked for (including services by a certified AVT), after 6 years of fighting with schools for
services for our child, we chose to disagree with the IEP, put our son in
the private school, but not contest the IEP, and be done with it.
In our letter spelling out why we disagreed with the
IEP, we stated that we did not agree that our son's program could be
properly overseen by someone 6-8 hours away, had never met our son, would
never meet our son, etc. I also mentioned that this AVT wannabe, who was
a member of the IEP team and had directed the goals and objectives that were included
in their IEP proposal, had not included one goal or objective that related to
improving his listening skills, which by their own testing showed to be his
greatest area of deficit. I have no doubt that had we taken this to due
process, we would have won.
Read a couple more cases here:
School Districts and AV
You may not have thought AV was an option for your child because of a lack of
AV providers in your area. You should know that Ellen Rhoades offers a service
where she will come in and do workshops, and then mentor one person from the
workshop. For more info on this service, please visit
Auditory Verbal Training &
OK, If you have all this material in your knowledge, readily accessible, and
have a list of what your child needs, proof that he needs it, the regs showing
the school district is obligated to meet those needs, OSEP documents, and
Rulings that show other children with similar circumstances have had rulings in
their favor, you should be armed with the tools to get AV services paid for by
your school district.
- Even with all of this, there are some school districts that just won't go
for it without putting up a fight. If worse comes to worse and moving is your
only option, Ellen Rhoades has compiled a list of school districts who actually have
AVT-Certs on staff:
Where Can I Secure Free Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT) Services for my Child?
This list doesn't include schools who contract out with private providers for
�2002 by Kay Powell. All rights reserved.