The National Agenda

** [ Click to download the National Agenda in pdf format ]


What is the National Agenda?

The National Agenda (NA) is an historic coalition of parent, consumer, professional, and advocacy organizations involved in the education of children who are deaf and hard of hearing , are working to develop an effective, communication and language -driven educational delivery system for our children.

Why the National Agenda?

The NA formed for one significant reason: the educational system that serves deaf and hard of hearing children is incomplete and ineffective. Our children, despite their innate abilities, passions, and dreams do not leave school with the skills necessary to be productive adults.

We have known this for a long time and our concerns have been expressed repeatedly and clearly. We do not see the problem as one of individual educators, but rather a larger systemic failure. IDEA was enacted in 1975 and yet the existing system does not understand the central role that communication and language play for our children and how educational and personal growth requires an effective and age-appropriate communication mode and language.

Our colleagues in the blind and visually-impaired communities faced similar frustrations and as a result developed their own national agenda. In 1995 the NA for the education of blind and visually-impaired students including those with multiple disabilities was launched with an endorsement from OSERS Assistant Secretary Judith Heumann. Built around eight national goals the Blind Agenda has grown to include national goal leaders, state goal leaders and a coalition of over 200 endorsing organizations, agencies and schools. Their NA has become the focus of their advocacy and government relations, national, state and local conferences, and numerous articles and position papers as well as websites.

The blind and visually-impaired communities have provided us with an effective example, from which we have taken both inspiration and the general characteristics of their model and have begun to build an "Agenda" specifically designed to meet the unique communication, language, literacy, and educational needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In this developmental stage the NA has been monitored by a small steering committee and an Advisory Committee composed of representatives from CED organizations, CAID, ASDC, CEASD, AGBell, NAD, ACE-DHH and most recently representatives from public day school education for deaf and hard of hearing students.

What is the NA Vision?

The NA is working for the development of a true communication-driven, literacy focused educational system and a national/state/local support structure for parents, children and educators.

Our vision is three-fold: to build a grass roots movement united behind a set of definitive national goals, to establish a local, state, regional, and national NA so that parents, professionals, consumers, academicians, advocates, and others have a mechanism through which information can be exchanged, resources created, and work commenced on problems at those various levels, and to advocate for a communication and language-driven educational delivery system whereby every deaf and hard of hearing child will be provided with a quality, literacy-focused, language-rich education.

What Has the NA Done so Far?

The NA Steering Committee drafted the first National Agenda which include 8 goal areas/recommendations. This and other drafts were posted nationally and the NA received thousands of comments from individuals and groups around the nation. In April, 2005 the first hard copy of the National Agenda Goals was published. The NA members have made presentations on the NA at conferences and workshops across the country. It is our intention to have parents, professionals and consumers ultimately craft the National Agenda and together we will implement it.

What Next?

The NA is both a product and a process , the 8 goal areas always being works in progress and reflective of the latest thinking and concerns of our constituencies. The written National Agenda will continue to change and grow. The National Agenda will be working on developing regional, state and local NA leaders, disseminating the current version of the written NA, and working with the U.S. Department of Education and NASDSE (National Association of State Special Education Directors) to further the NA vision.

What Can You Do for the NA?

First and foremost download and read the NA. You should then join the campaign to publicize the NA in your local community. www.deafed.net has a power point presentation that you may download to use in spreading the word about the NA. You may also get this power point at www.ceasd.org

[ This page was adapted from a press release from the National Agenda released in 2003 ]


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