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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Native language (Sec. 300.29)

Comment: A few commenters expressed support for retaining the definition of native language, stating that it is important to clarify that sign language is the native language of many children who are deaf. One commenter stated it is important to clarify that the language normally used by the child may be different than the language normally used by the parents. Another commenter stated that the definition of native language does not adequately cover individuals with unique language and communication techniques such as deafness or blindness or children with no written language.

Discussion: The definition of native language was expanded in the 1999 regulations to ensure that the full range of needs of children with disabilities whose native language is other than English is appropriately addressed. The definition clarifies that in all direct contact with the child (including an evaluation of the child), native language means the language normally used by the child and not that of the parents, if there is a difference between the two. The definition also clarifies that for individuals with deafness or blindness, or for individuals with no written language, the native language is the mode of communication that is normally used by the individual (such as sign language, Braille, or oral communication). We believe this language adequately addresses the commenters' concerns.

Changes: None.