[lg policy] W. Virginia: School orders staff to be proficient in sign language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 14 14:51:50 UTC 2012

School orders staff to be proficient in sign language
By The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind
is requiring all staff to be able to communicate with deaf students
through sign language. Many employees already have some knowledge of
sign language. But the school has never had a standard, Superintendent
Lynn Boyer told the Charleston Daily Mail. "This is a policy that
should have been in place years and years and years and years ago,"
Boyer said. "There's a lot of acceptance that this really needs to

The new policy sets fluency standards for various positions at the
Romney school. Beginning in July, teachers, bus drivers, custodians
and other employees will be given two years to achieve a certain
degree of fluency in sign language or Braille comprehension. Employees
will receive a 5 percent pay raise when they reach that goal.
Improvement plans will be developed for those who struggle to meet the
requirement. Termination is possible for an employee who does not show
progress or a willingness to comply with the policy, Boyer said.

Sign language skills will be rated based upon the results of an
evaluation system called the Sign Language Proficiency Review.
Videotaped interviews will be conducted with employees to gauge their
sign language ability. Reviewers who are not affiliated with the
school will evaluate the results. The school will begin the evaluation
system in the fall, working with the National Technical Institute for
the Deaf, Gallaudet University and the Western Pennsylvania School for
the Deaf.

Boyer said the goal is to provide deaf students with unlimited access
to communication, both in and outside the classroom. "One of the
reasons students come to our school is ... their language is the
language of communication," Boyer said. "They're never vulnerable to
an interpreter who isn't present, or is sick for a week."  Increasing
the number of deaf employees is another goal. When positions open, the
policy calls for the school to look to fill them with deaf employees.

"For a deaf child, much as it is in our country for an
African-American child ... to have a model of success, to see all
things are possible, it's important," Boyer said. There are
approximately 187 employees and only four are deaf.


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