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Class Action To Bring Children A Voice

...On behalf of speech impaired kids to force schools to test verbal disabled children with appropriate instruments that accommodate their disability. So many tests, like IQ tests and others used to determine disability and service needs, depend on language processing, so the results can reflect these deficits rather than what the test is supposed to measure. (Example: making a sight impaired child take a paper and pencil test, rather than a test in Braille, so he is labeled MR rather than blind.)

Two of the following three stories are fictitious and would never happen today.  One of them, even though just as cruelly inaccurate and inappropriate as the other two -is happening all over through many professionals in the educational field.  Please help us help bring the children a voice.  The growing number of speech and language impaired children of today like Tanner, will be the Melanies of tomorrow if we do not. 

Today three children are being tested for their cognitive ability using a standardized IQ test that was purchased by a school district for all the schools in the district to use. For this one particular example we are looking at a flash card with a picture of a rabbit.

Six year old Suzie has a visual impairment. To assess her cognitive ability for therapy and placement, her public school gave her a visual based IQ test. They showed Suzie a picture of a rabbit and asked her what it was. Suzie squinted, not quite sure what she could make out, finally saying "puppy" Unfortunately Suzie's poor vision affected the rest of her testing. Suzie scored low average in her cognitive abilities based on her visual based IQ testing and was placed in learning disabled class. Subsequent visual based receptive and cognitive tests have shown visually disabled Suzie's results regressing towards mental retardation.

Six year old Johnny has a hearing impairment. To assess his cognitive ability for therapy and placement, his public school gave him an auditory based IQ test. They showed Johnny a picture of a rabbit and asked him what it was. Johnny heard the words "What sits?" Not quite sure of the question Johnny questioned back and timidly said "me?" Unfortunately, Johnny's poor hearing affected the rest of his testing. Johnny scored low average in his cognitive abilities based on his auditory based IQ testing and was placed in learning disabled class. Subsequent auditory based receptive and cognitive tests have shown hearing disabled Johnny's results regressing towards mental retardation.

Six year old Billy has a verbal based speech and language impairment. To assess his cognitive ability for therapy and placement, his public school gave him a verbal based IQ test. They showed Billy a picture of a rabbit and asked him what it was. Billy, who was unable to say the word rabbit, or even bunny, said "hop" The evaluator said "Yes Billy, it does hop, but what is it called" Stumped since his mom and dad always knew what he meant when he said "hop" he got out of his chair and hopped and said "HOP!" Unfortunately, Billy's poor speech ability affected the rest of his testing. Billy scored low average in his cognitive abilities based on his verbal based IQ testing and was placed in learning disabled class. Subsequent verbal based receptive and cognitive tests have shown verbal disabled Billy's results as regressing towards mental retardation.

Only one of the above stories is actually true and happening across the country right now.* (*real life testing examples under update)

Verbally disabled children are routinely being discriminated against by School Districts across the nation through the use of verbal based standardized and curricular testing that inaccurately measure their true knowledge, intelligence, progress or abilities. The grassroots nonprofit CHERAB Foundation is currently preparing to help launch a class action against school districts who violate the civil and educational rights of these communication delayed or impaired children. Equally feasible to districts instead of the use of verbal based tests for receptive and cognitive abilities of verbal disabled individuals, are the more fair and objective non-verbal tests. These instruments would accurately measure the progress of these communication impaired students, but too many districts either refuse to consider them, or don't understand why they should. Federal Regulations protect all special needs, including against testing verbal disabled children with verbal based cognitive or receptive tests.  However while Federal and State Regulations currently have specific accommodations and provisions written into the law which limit the means and methods for testing children with visual or hearing disabilities, there are no such specific regulations as of yet designed to protect children with speech and language disorders, particularly those with expressive delay or disability, but including accommodations for those with motor planning deficits of the body which would affect even nonverbal communication skills, or communication impairments such as autism. As a result, districts employing a verbal based "one size fits all" approach to testing routinely misapply such testing in placement or classification of verbally disabled children, or in assessing their progress.

Most individuals with a speech and language disability have average to above average intelligence. As a result of discriminatory verbal based testing on verbal disabled children however, these children, who could test above average on nonverbal cognitive or receptive assessments, are often left behind their non-disabled peers without basis or proper cause, due directly to systematic testing discrimination. This discrimination is rampant and is the most egregious form of harm, affecting those disabled children who have no ability to "speak up" against such indignities and be heard. The testing is inaccurate; but, because of its complexity and its administration by "experts", the testing is many times just accepted through its "aura of reliability." The absence of specific federal regulation does not leave these children without a remedy or a voice. Their rights are protected by federal law, protecting civil and educational rights for students. Accordingly, action is being taken. Such discrimination will no longer be tolerated. It is illegal and the time has come for it to end.

As Lisa Geng, President of the CHERAB Foundation said to many at this point, "By changing the way you test communication impaired children, you will not only save lives, you will save money. Most of these children can thrive in the mainstream and in life, but what chance do they have in school or in life if they are misclassified young as mentally retarded? If these verbal disabled children's lives don't matter to you, then help to save the taxpayer money since that always seems to be the bottom line for some. "No Child Left Behind?", these verbal disabled children are being left behind and silent to call out for help"

*Don't let your communication impaired child fall through the cracks

Read Melanie's story below to find out how she did. Read Tanner's story to find out how he 'almost' did. 

A Real Life Little Mermaid

19 year old's story about growing up verbal disabled

Picture of 19 year old Melanie in speech therapy. 


Parent Center Resources (IDEA information for families, advocates and others.)

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
Helping Parents and Advocates Improve Educational Results for Children with Disabilities
Information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '04) for families and advocates.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - Wrightslaw
Links to hundreds of special education law and advocacy articles, newsletters, cases, and practical guidance for parents, advocates, and attorneys.

Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER)
The PACER Center is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families, based on the concept of parents helping parents

The Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers is an innovative project that supports a unified technical assistance system for the purpose of developing, assisting and coordinating Parent Training and Information Projects and Community Parent Resource Centers under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and consists of 1 national center and 6 regional centers. The project is funded to strengthen the connections to the larger technical assistance network and fortify partnerships between parent centers and state education systems at regional and national levels.


Hear Apraxic "Children" at The Talking Page






The Cherab Foundation is a world-wide nonprofit organization working to improve the communication skills and education of all children with speech and language delays and disorders. Our area of emphasis is verbal and oral apraxia, severe neurologically-based speech and language disorders that hinder children's ability to speak.

The Cherab Foundation is committed to assisting with the development of new therapeutic approaches, preventions and cures to neurologically-based speech disorders. We bring together parents and medical, research, and educational professionals. Please join us and help to give our children a smile and a voice.

Cherab Foundation
Communication Help, Education, Research, Apraxia Base
P.O. Box 8524 PSL, Florida 34952-8524
Phone: 772-335-5135

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Last Update: June 18, 2006