Letter to LEAD-K from AGBell

March 2, 2018

Sheri A. Farinha, Director
National LEAD-K Campaign
4708 Roseville, Suite 111
North Highlands, CA 95660

Dear Ms. Farinha,

Thank you for your letter of February 23 inviting AG Bell to collaborate with LEAD-K on legislation to improve outcomes for all children who are deaf or hard of hearing. As we stated in our November 3, 2017 letter to you, at the end of the day we are more similar than different and we are willing to engage in ongoing discussion for the sake of all children, their families, and the D/deaf communities. We continue to feel this way.

As we shared in our previous letter, AG Bell developed a model bill in response to requests from our members who wanted to improve outcomes and life experiences for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. We particularly recognized a need to ensure support for parent choice regarding the primary language and communication mode for their children. In that regard, we took care that the bill not favor one communication mode over another, but rather empower the family in making its choice.

We offered the model bill to serve as a framework upon which our members could build legislation to address the specific needs in their states. We never intended to, nor did we try, to control what happens in each state. We’ve remained available to our members to provide technical assistance but at no time has any financial support been provided to our members for their time or expenses related to their efforts.

We agree with you that it would benefit everyone if the proponents of LEAD-K and AG Bell would come together to pursue consensus towards the goals of language fluency for children by kindergarten and English literacy by the end of grade 3. To do this on a state-by-state basis, however, would be challenging from both a time and cost perspective and does not seem to be the most effective or efficient strategy.

We, therefore, propose holding a consensus meeting of national LEAD-K and AG Bell leaders to address how we can work together to help the various states address improving outcomes for children. For example, both legislative and administrative options could be explored. As per your letter, LEAD-K and AG Bell would share the cost of this meeting.

Again, thank you for your letter and I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Sincerely,

Emilio Alonso-Mendoza, CEO
Alexander Graham Bell Association

Cc: Lori Bobsin, AuD, President VA Chapter of AG Bell
Joni Alberg, PhD, Public Policy Consultant, AG Bell
Ted Meyer, MD, Chair, AG Bell Board of Directors
Delegate Brenda Pogge, VA House of Representatives
Delegate Gordon Helsel, VA House of Representatives
Senator John Edwards, VA Sentate
Mary Rose Gonzalez, Co Chair VA LEAD-K
Gary Viall, Co Chair VA LEAD-K