Legislation to provide new resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing children was approved by the Iowa House on Wednesday and is on its way to the governor.

House File 604, sometimes referred to as the LEAD-K — Language, Equality, Acquisition for Deaf Kids — is the result of more than a decade of work by lawmakers, educators and the families of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

LEAD-K is a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of deaf or hard-of-hearing children’s experiences in language learning.

It works on school readiness, ensuring deaf children have access to both American Sign Language and English.

Iowa will be the 19th state to adopt LEAD-K.


The House bill calls for the development of language milestones for each age, from birth through age 8, in American Sign Language, English and other languages, as well as milestone assessments.

It requires the education department to develop parent resources for deaf or hard-of-hearing children. And it calls for the creation of a family mentoring program to pair families with a deaf or hard-of-hearing adult mentor to provide support.

The bill calls for establishing a stakeholder group to advise the education department.

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