A four-part series about language acquisition, data collection, and kindergarten readiness: Part 1

Sometimes a community member asks MNCDHH if we can advocate for LEAD-K in Minnesota. We tell them that MNCDHH, parents, and advocates got LEAD-K laws passed back in 2007. It doesn’t have the name, LEAD-K.

What is LEAD-K?
Maybe not everyone knows what LEAD-K is so let’s explain a little. LEAD-K is short for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids. It is a national coalition that advocates for states to pass laws to make sure that deaf, deafblind & hard of hearing kids from ages 0-5 have a good start to life. A good start to life includes language acquisition and kindergarten readiness.

LEAD-K is about making sure that children are meeting milestones for one or both languages – ASL and English. It also requires that assessments and data reporting include language to make sure that children from ages 0-5 are meeting their language milestones.

There are 6 parts of LEAD-K, which was described in a brilliant article in Gallaudet Odyssey (Spring 2016), “The Power and Promise of a Handshake: Milestones in Collaboration (PDF)”, written by Dr. Roz Rosen. Minnesota already has these 6 parts in our state laws. The parts are:

Establishing a clear goal – children will be ready for kindergarten
Agreeing on a principal – children have the right to language, ASL and/or English. Parents need language milestones starting at their child’s birth. The state, already mandated to provide early intervention programs, needs to be held accountable for outcomes.
Sharing important information – data sharing must be done so that legislators and stakeholders are fully aware of the needs and outcomes of children.
Ensuring that diverse stakeholders are at the table – different perspectives and experiences strengthen the outcomes. This is very, very important.
Collaborating between various organizations and legislative bodies can lead to positive results.
Making sure that deaf leaders are involved and that goals and processes are deaf-centric.
In Minnesota, our laws are the building blocks to ensuring that children who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing are successful. It is not perfect but we have a strong foundation to build upon. We are a great model for other states to follow.

To be continued
So, we have covered the national LEAD-K campaign and a little about the importance of working together. In the next video, we will focus on the language acquisition and tracking laws here in Minnesota.

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