Is it appropriate to place sign dependent deaf students, who have “low” language and “low” IQ scores, but no other diagnosis, in special ed classes with non signing special ed teachers?
It is never appropriate to place deaf students (or anyone else) in a classroom in which they cannot communicate with the teacher (or vice versa). Determination of an appropriate school placement for a deaf or hard-of-hearing child should be made on the basis of a thorough assessment by a school psychologist or other individual(s) who are qualified and able to communicate with the child. Specifics of the placement and the student’s needs to be made explicit in an IEP.
However, the fact that you are asking such a question suggests that there is more to this than it might appear. If any particular student is “low language,” how do you know s/he is “sign dependent”? Is the student being described as low language because s/he does not use spoken language? Has the child been exposed to sign language from an early age but still is not acquiring it in an age-appropriate manner? Is the child from a family that uses some other language at home? Has a formal assessment of the sort suggested above actually been conducted? Ultimately, school placement should be a parental decision (various states and countries vary in this respect), but it must be an informed one. Parents in the United States have rights with regard to their children’s educational services (see Recommended Readings). Other “interested individuals” typically do not.
“Importance and Need for the Continuum of Educational Placements,” by Barbara Raimondo, Esq., coming April 1 to www.raisingandeducatingdeafchildren.org.
Raimondo, B. (2010). Legal advocacy for deaf and hard of hearing children in education. In M. Marschark & P. Spencer (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education, volume 2 (pp. 31-40). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.