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Congress Passes Updated IDEA Law

Giving Specific Direction to Provide Information on Options for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children

Denver, CO December 3, 2004 -On November 19, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly reauthorized the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), providing for access to services and education for families and children with special needs. For the first time, lawmakers gave specific policy direction to the U.S. Department of Education on the need to provide information on the full range of options, including cochlear implants, for families with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. The bill is expected to be signed by President Bush in early December.

This is a significant milestone in educating families about cochlear implants and encouraging early intervention, said Donna L. Sorkin, Vice President, Consumer Affairs for Cochlear Americas, an active advocate in the policy review process on this bill over the past two years. Cochlear is proud to have facilitated the discussions that led to this important policy directive. By specifically addressing the need to discuss the various communication options as well as the benefits of cochlear implants for appropriate children, the report language of the bill is intended to improve the information provided to parents and help them make important decisions about their childs hearing health. It will also aid advocates in improving the early intervention advisement process.

This marks the first time the US Department of Education will publish guidance on cochlear implants. The Department will soon release a new brochure for parents outlining options for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, which will be distributed by state early intervention programs.

Cochlear representatives worked closely with a number of people who were instrumental in this policy directive, including Congressman John Boehner (R-OH), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Angie King, the mother of two daughters with Nucleus cochlear implants, was also an articulate and an important opinion leader in this effort.

Cochlear implants have dramatically improved the lives of my daughters and tens of thousands of others like them, said King. Now more parents will become aware of this option so that their children can benefit from this remarkable technology. This guidance is a huge accomplishment, but only one milestone on the path to greater awareness and early intervention, universal infant screenings, and broader insurance coverage of cochlear implants.

The IDEA Conference Report, describing the bills implementation, states:
Conferees commend the office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services for developing updated early intervention materials that set out the full range of options for families with deaf and hard-of-hearing children who now have the potential to develop age-appropriate language in whatever modality their parents choose. Dramatic improvements in hearing technology, both hearing aids and cochlear implants, provide new opportunities for families who wish to pursue spoken language for their child with hearing loss. These new materials and efforts further the goals of the IDEA that early intervention personnel actively provide comprehensive and bias-free information on the range of language options available to a child with hearing loss, including the benefits of early amplification and/or early implantation of a cochlear implant.

About Cochlear' Americas

For more than 20 years, Cochlear' Americas has been focused on bringing the miracle of sound to those individuals who live in silence. To date, more than 60,000 profoundly deaf individuals have benefited from Cochlear's Nucleus line of cochlear implants. The Company's promise of Hear now. And always. exemplifies its commitment to advancing hearing technology and customer support, which has resulted in numerous awards including the 2001 Medical Design Excellence Award for its design of the Nucleus 24 Contour' cochlear implant and the FDA Commissioner's Special Citation for the development and commercialization of the Nucleus 24 Multichannel Auditory Brainstem implant. 

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