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Deaf advisory committee is suggested by legislator

PIERRE -- A state lawmaker took another step Tuesday on creating a South Dakota advisory committee for services to deaf children up to age five. HB 1155 would establish a panel of nine to 15 adults including parents, experts and people from the s...

PIERRE - A state lawmaker took another step Tuesday on creating a South Dakota advisory committee for services to deaf children up to age five.

HB 1155 would establish a panel of nine to 15 adults including parents, experts and people from the state Department of Education and the state School for the Deaf.

At least four of the members would be deaf or hard of hearing under the plan from Rep. Dan Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids.

He wants the panel to recommend ways for tracking development of language and literacy skills for children who don't hear or have hearing difficulties.

The state House voted 53-13 for an earlier version of the plan. The Senate Education Committee made more changes Tuesday and recommended passage 7-0.

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Another set of amendments is expected when the measure comes up for Senate debate either Thursday afternoon or next week.

Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, suggested broader definitions in some spots.

Under the plan, volunteer members would set language development standards before June 1, 2019, that would become available to parents.

The bill would return to the House for a decision whether to agree with the changes or send it to a conference committee.

Senators also recommended HB 1058 that would allow the state Board of Regents to hire one person as superintendent for the Sioux Falls deaf school and superintendent for the Aberdeen school for the blind and visually impaired.

Marjorie Kaiser said she has worked 30 years as superintendent at the Aberdeen campus and eight years as superintendent at the Sioux Falls school.

Soholt indicated there would be an amendment on the Senate floor this week requiring the superintendent to work toward becoming familiar with American Sign Language.

The House passed it 64-2 Jan. 24.

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