Deaf Education

Regional Day School Program for the Deaf

Regional Day School Programs for the Deaf (RDSPD) in Texas were instituted by the Texas Education Agency to provide quality services to all students in Texas who are deaf or hard of hearing. Due to the low incidence of hearing impairment, students may come from several districts to a central school location for education services, or be served by teachers who are certified to work with students who are deaf/hard of hearing on their home campuses. The Waco RDSPD is established as a shared services arrangement between neighboring school districts within and surrounding McLennan County.


Parents, private or public school personnel, or any other person involved in the care or education of a student may refer a student who is suspected of having an auditory impairment to the RDSPD. Referrals may be made in writing or by telephone to the Waco RDSPD office or any special education department of one of the member school districts. The following documentation must be submitted for consideration of the eligibility of auditory impairment (assessments must have been completed within the past three years):

  • A report of aided and unaided audiological assessments by a licensed audiologist
  • A report of otological examination by a licensed Ear, Nose, and Throat physician
  • A report of communication assessment by a Speech-Language Pathologist or certified deaf educator
  • A Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) by a professional certified to administer assessment
  • A Speech-Language assessment by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist
  • A recent report card, if age appropriate

Eligibility, Admission, & Placement

Any student from birth to 21 (inclusive) whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) live within the boundaries of one of the member districts could be eligible for membership in the RDSPD. Eligibility (as defined by the Texas Education Agency) is based on the type and degree of a documented hearing loss as well as the subsequent linguistic impact and educational need. Only the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee can establish a student’s eligibility for services, appropriate instructional arrangement, setting, and placement. While placement to the RDSPD is made by the ARD committee, the location of its classes is determined by the RDSPD Management Board. Currently, the RDSPD classes are located in Waco ISD.


The RDSPD provides instructional services designed to meet the individual needs of all students at all ages and grade levels in a variety of ways: a parent-infant program, site-based classes in the public school setting, and an itinerant program for students who are instructed on their home campus. Development of audition, speech, language, and communication skills are emphasized throughout the program.

Parent-Infant (0-2 years old)

The parent-infant program focuses on early intensive stimulation to facilitate the acquisition and development of early auditory, communication, language, speech, and cognitive skills. Services are provided in coordination with the local Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program. Parental involvement and training in the child’s home environment is the cornerstone of this program. Students must be registered at their home school to begin services.


The preschool program is designed to provide continued development of auditory, communication, language, speech, and cognitive skills. In addition, pre-academic skills (i.e. readiness skills to prepare for reading, math, and writing) are introduced. Development of self-help, motor and socialization skills round out this interactive center-based program.


The elementary program focuses on the expansion of academic skills along with continued development of auditory, communication, language, speech, and cognitive skills. This program is based in a stimulating and language rich environment. Students participate in general education classes (academic and/or non-academic) as determined by the ARD Committee.

Intermediate and Middle School

In the intermediate and middle school program, the emphasis is to enhance academic skills and begin to explore elective courses. Students will also continue to refine auditory, communication, language, and speech skills. Students may participate in general education classes (academic or non-academic) as determined by the ARD Committee.

High School

The emphasis in the high school program is to solidify academic skills and thoroughly investigate a wide-range of course selections required for credit in core academic, elective, and vocational areas. Auditory, communication, language, and speech skills are made stronger. The goal is for each student, upon graduation, to be adequately prepared for entry into post-secondary life in technical or vocational programs, junior colleges, universities, or immediate entry into the job market.

Itinerant Services

Students (3-21 years) who attend schools within their home school districts receive direct instruction or consultative services from a teacher of the deaf as recommended by the ARD committee. Focus is placed on the development of audition, language, vocabulary, and/or communication skills.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy is provided for site students through the RDSPD as recommended by the ARD committee. Auditory, articulation, communication and language skill development is emphasized. The ARD committee determines the amount of the speech service. Itinerant students are provided speech-language therapy from their home district as recommended by the ARD Committee.

Language Philosophy

The Waco Regional Day School Program for the Deaf acknowledges that students who are deaf or hard of hearing belong to a group that is culturally and linguistically diverse.

TEC §29.302 states that educational programs recognize the unique nature of deaf and hard-of-hearing students and ensure that all students who are deaf or hard of hearing have appropriate, ongoing, and fully accessible educational opportunities.
The goal of the Waco RDSPD is designed to enable each student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing to:

  • Develop communication for school, home, and the community
  • Obtain literacy in the English language
  • Develop independence and self-advocacy skills to the maximum extent appropriate
  • Have appropriate access to the general education curriculum
  • Provide awareness of various communication modes by providing deaf role models

The Waco Regional Day School Program for the Deaf utilizes a Total Communication philosophy of communication which by definition (ERIC Digest #559) may involve one or several modes of communication including spoken, written and/or signed language. The mode of communication for each child is determined by parent input and data driven student performance described in the Individual Education Plan. Each child’s communication preference is respected, used and developed according to TEC §29.303.

The Waco RDSPD uses a bilingual/multicultural model with opportunities to receive core instruction in American Sign Language and English utilizing technology, support from educational institutions, and the Deaf community.  For most students participating in a “total communication” environment, instruction during the English Language Arts block supports English language structure in order to facilitate literacy skills. Core instruction is provided in American Sign Language (ASL) with emphasis on access to language as the basis of the instructional program. Instruction in the content areas combines the student’s preferred mode of communication and English needs of each student.  The program will refer to the data reported in the Communication Assessment (Eligibility Part C) as well as input from the student and parents.