Your Rights as a Family

​​​​IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed in 1997 and guarantees all children with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education.


  • ​Provides both funding and oversight for early intervention services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.
  • Governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth
  • Ensures that infants and toddlers (birth through 2 years, 11 months) receive early intervention
  • Ensures that children and youth (age 3 to 21 years) receive needed special education and related services

For more useful information on IDEA:

Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP)

The Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a plan used to guide education from birth to age three. The IFSP is family-centered and includes goals for both the child and family. It is designed to help families and professionals work together to meet the developmental needs of the child and provide support for the family.

  • You will be offered access to a services coordinator, who helps families fulfill their needs by coordinating the work of team members and community resources.
  • The IFSP includes several important parts:
    • ​Assessment of the infant's current level of development
    • Family information, including strengths (with input and permission from you)
    • Major goals, or outcomes expected from intervention, including how your infant’s progress will be measured
    • Specific services needed to achieve those outcomes
    • Timelines for achieving goals and a description of services (start date and details [when they start, how long, how often, location, etc.)
    • Funding source (if other than the school)
    • A list of team members, including the services coordination and
    • A plan for transition into preschool or some other program.
    • Required signatures (including parents and persons representing agencies providing services).

For more detailed information on the IFSP process:

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

An IEP includes an outline of the goals and objectives developed for your child. This team is made up of teachers, professionals who will be working with your child, and you, the parent. An IEP addresses how goals and objectives will be reached, and should include ways to measure your child's progress. To learn more about the IEP, view the resources below

For more useful information on IDEA:

Your Child's Individualized Education Program (IEP)* ​

*The information in the following section was originally developed by the team that created the website (See About Us). Edits and updates were made by the team 

Read this section to learn more about what an IEP is and how it can help your child. 

You know your child better than anybody else. You know best how your child learns. ​

What an IEP is 

IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. This is a plan that is made just for your child between the ages of 3-21. 

  • The IEP lists what your child should learn during the next year. It also lists special education services, accommodations, and modifications that will support your child’s learning needs. 

  • All people working with your child are responsible for following this plan. 

Who writes the IEP ​

  • You, the parents, and older children should be involved as well. 
  • If your child goes to a mainstream school, at least one of the child's regular education  teachers 
  • A school representative 
  • The person who understands what your child's evaluation means 
  • Someone who is trained to work with children who are deaf or hearing 
  • Other related service providers, as determined by the MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) such as an Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, etc. 
  • Many times, a school psychologist is involved for their expertise in academics and behavior. ​

What the IEP says ​

  • What areas in school your child does well in (Strengths that enhance educational performance section) 
  • What areas in school your child needs more help in (Concerns of parent and other IEP Team members for enhancing educational performance section) 
  • How your child is doing in school (Recent evaluation results section) 
    • What grade or level in school your child is in 
    • Test scores and evaluations 
  • The effect of the student’s disability on involvement and progress in the general curriculum (ex:  For preschool children, how the disability affects participation in daily routines and planned activities) 
  • A section to describe your child’s educational needs, including modifications, accommodations, specialized teaching strategies or supplementary aids.  This is the section where you mention the need for sign language and/or assistive technology, such as hearing aids or DM systems.  
  • What you the team identify as specific goals and objectives for your child to learn   
    • How your child's progress will be measured 
    • How the school will tell you how your child is doing 
    • How often you will get a progress report 
  • What services your child will get 
    • For example, this could include interpreters, remote microphone systems, speech  therapy, or transportation. 
    • How often and for how long your child will get help 
    • The professionals who will work with your child 
    • How much time your child will spend with children without disabilities or delays in school 
    • Where your child will get special education services 
    • In addition, IEPs need to include a behavior assessment and plan if your child is having difficulty managing their behaviors.  

If your child has a special way of communicating, like American Sign Language, make sure this is written on the IEP. 

Ask for a copy of the IEP in the language you can read the best 

  • You should be given a copy of the IEP. 
  • The IEP and all reports from the school should be written in your native language so that you can read and understand them. 

Plan to go to IEP meetings ​

Your child will have a new IEP every year if your child needs special education services.  A spoken or signed language interpreter should be provided by the school district, if necessary, to allow family members to participate in the IEP meeting. 

School systems must take the necessary steps to give parents the opportunity to understand the proceedings at an IEP team meeting. This includes… ”arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English.”   

  1. You'll get a letter from the school inviting you to the IEP meeting. The letter needs to be sent out in advance with enough notice for families to attend.  

    • The letter should give you the date, time and place for the meeting. 
    • The letter should also tell you who will be at the meeting. 
    • If you can't come to the meeting on that day, send the letter back to the school. Suggest other dates or times that are better for you. 
    • It's important to have all the IEP team members together at the meeting. That way, you can all talk about what your child needs to learn at one time and place. 
    • Let the school know if you're bringing anyone to the meeting.  You can bring anyone to an IEP meeting to help advocate for your child.  

  1. At the IEP meeting, here's what you should talk about: 

    • How your child is doing with learning.  This includes stating current progress on objectives/goals, including if your student has met a goal or an objective, is making progress, or not making progress. 
    • Also talk about any testing that's been done since the last IEP. 
    • The new things that your child should learn over the next year 
    • Goals, objectives, accommodations or modifications that you or the rest of the team want to add, change, or stop. 
      • Everyone can bring ideas to the meeting. 
      • The school might give you their ideas in writing. 
      • All decisions and placements are made as a team.  
      • Nothing is final until the team (including you) agrees to it. 

To learn more about the IEP, view the resources below: