Hearing impaired schools can usually be found to cover the full educational experience, from preschool to high school. The type of schools available can include programs that have been incorporated into local public school systems, state-sponsored schools for the deaf, and charter schools; different countries often have very different options available for students. Once students have completed this stage of their education, they also have the option of enrolling in a deaf college or university.
In the United States, public schools that receive federal funding must comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing an equal learning opportunity to children with any type of disability. Although most of those in the deaf community do not view themselves as having a disability and frown upon the term hearing impaired, all deaf or hard of hearing children qualify to receive assistance. These public school programs generally provide aid to students from birth up until they turn 21. Service may be offered in a school specifically set aside for this purpose. The majority of public education systems around the country, however, offer this service through special education classes within the school or provide support so deaf students can attend mainstream classes.
Children who are born deaf or develop hearing loss while young may have trouble succeeding academically and developing their language and communication skills if they are not placed in a supportive environment. From birth, the IDEA provides help for deaf kids through early intervention programs administered by each state. These programs provide assistance and resources to parents and deaf children in various ways, such as providing the opportunity to learn from deaf teachers who can help families learn to sign. Once students turn 3, they can transition to hearing impaired preschools or similar programs. These schools for the hard of hearing may be run by nonprofit organizations or may be state-supported.
State-supported hearing impaired schools are usually free and must comply with the educational standards mandated by the state and the IDEA. Accreditation may also be given through the Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf (CEASD). The CEASD accredits deaf schools and programs and adopts accrediting standards that are similar to those used by regional accrediting bodies around the US.
Often, these state-sponsored hearing impaired schools accept students from different school districts in their state. Programs typically accept students at all grade levels. Most state schools are also residential programs, and deaf students will usually stay in dormitories during the school week. Afterschool programs and activities are also provided.
Although not as abundant, there are some charter schools serving the deaf community. Like state schools, most deaf charter schools offer free tuition and teach deaf students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Both charter and state offered deaf schools also tend to go with a bilingual approach to learning, teaching American Sign Language (ASL) and English so students will be able to effectively communicate and function in both worlds. To get into this type of hearing impaired schools, an admissions application may have to be completed and the student evaluated. Some deaf charter schools, however, utilize open enrollment policies and even accept students who do not have hearing loss.
Schools for the deaf also include institutes of higher learning. These universities offer undergraduate and graduate level degrees in various interest areas including business, science, and deaf studies. It may even be possible to earn some degrees online. Deaf schools usually offer the chance for the student to be fully immersed in both deaf and college cultures through joining deaf fraternities and sororities and attending college parties.