Testimony for Public Hearing
Kansas Senate, Education Committee
February 17, 2016
SB No. 444 (Committee) – On establishing an assessment program for deaf and hard of hearing children in Kansas
Dear Education Committee members,
My name is Tara Schupner Congdon, and I am a product of the preK-12 deaf education system in Kansas.
I write today to urge you to support SB 444, establishing a statewide bilingual language assessment program for deaf and hard of hearing children in the state of Kansas. My personal experience and observations of deaf education in this state over the past 30 years leads me to wholeheartedly attest to the critical need for this program, which has the potential to advance the linguistic, educational, social, emotional, and economic well-being of all deaf and hard of hearing children in Kansas.
As a profoundly deaf bilingual child of hearing parents, I entered the Total Communication (spoken/written English + Signing Exact English, SEE) program at Santa Fe Trail Elementary School, Shawnee Mission School District. With access to comprehensive visual communication through teachers of the deaf who signed and interpreters, as well as auditory and speech therapy, while fully included in the mainstream, I rapidly surpassed age-appropriate milestones. I graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 2001 with a 4.6 GPA, as a Kansas Honor Scholar, AP Scholar, and National Merit Scholar. I hold bachelor’s degrees in English and Journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s in Literature from American University, and work as manager of communications for an international behavioral and neuroscience research center in Washington, D.C. I am a product of the Kansas deaf education system.