A new resource could be available to Missouri families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing – to help the kids improve their language skills. State Senator Greg Razer has filed a bill that would require the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a tool for parents to monitor and track milestones in the language development of their child.

Razer, D-Kansas City, said Missouri has a few hundred kids who are deaf or hard of hearing. He said he wants them to have the best outcomes.

State Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, speaks on the Missouri House floor on March 28, 2019 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

“I can’t believe that we don’t do something like this already, where we’re tracking specifically these children who their parents can’t speak to them in the way that you and I spoke to our parents when we were two-, three-, four-years-old. It really puts people behind the eight ball. So, we’ve got to do everything we can to catch them up,” he said.

Under his bill, the Department would select existing tools or assessments for teachers that can be used to review the language and literacy development of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The state would also be required to compile an annual report specific to language and literacy development of these children.

“For every 1000 children that are born deaf or hard of hearing, only three of them will have parents who know how to sign – three out of 1000 will have parents that will know how to talk to them,” he said.

Razer said there is also a social-emotional void involved.

“Everybody is kind of a stranger to them because they can’t communicate with anyone,” he said. “Even their own parents sometimes can feel that way, so there is like this emotional connection that seemingly is natural but without any form of communication, it’s lost.”

According to Razer, seven other states have passed similar bills.

“This is not a partisan type issue,” said Razer. “California, Hawaii, Oregon have all passed it, but so have South Dakota, Georgia, Louisiana, and I think just last year Kansas passed it. This is something that is gaining momentum.”

The cost of implementing these measures is unknown at this time.

To find out more about Senate Bill 340, click here.

To hear the Show Me Today interview with state Sen. Greg Razer, click below.

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