Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH)


The San Diego Unified School District is a place where the diversity of deaf and hard of hearing students is recognized and celebrated. English (spoken and/or written) and American Sign Language are equally valued, used, taught, and learned from early childhood to adult life. All students are engaged in curriculum based on the California Standards with accommodations made based on each student's assessed needs. The District DHH program with its rich literacy and language approach will provide a challenging learning environment that prepares each child for a meaningful and productive life in an evolving world.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide an empowering social and academic environment for deaf and hard of hearing students. Instruction follows evidence-based best practices for deaf and hard of hearing students as language learners. The District supports programs that focus on each student's assessed area of need as identified through the Individualized Educational Planning process. The District further supports continual program improvement through professional development and ongoing parental and community involvement.

San Diego Unified School District Goals and Objectives

Goal One: Students will reach their full potential linguistically, socially and academically from birth through age 21.

Objective 1:

Students will be provided with assessment services that are diagnostic and ongoing in order to ensure that their initial and continuing needs are met and that progress is monitored.

Objective 2:

Students will be taught in an academic environment that allows for the development and maintenance of American Sign Language and/or English fluency (spoken and/or written) including literacy in one or both languages and provides access to content across the curriculum.

Objective 3:

Students will have access to educational programming, extra-curricular activities and/or community activities that provide social and academic support in an environment that allows interaction with deaf, hard of hearing, and/or hearing peers.

Goal 2: Administrators, teachers and support staff will be highly qualified, participate in ongoing professional development, maintain high expectations for all students and provide data-driven instruction.

Objective 1:

All staff will have appropriate credentials for their assignments which may include multiple subject, single subject, specialist, and authorizations on these credentials as needed.

Objective 2:

All staff will maintain high expectations for student success in meeting the requirements of a broad and challenging curriculum.

Objective 3

All staff will make ongoing educational decisions (including review of placement and transition needs and service options for all students, ages birth-21,) based on multiple sources of data, analyzed through a collaborative process, as well as evidence-based best practices that are accurately documented in IFSP's, and IEP's.

Goal 3: Parents of students receiving services in the D/HH Program will be encouraged to develop fluency in ASL and/or English, have an awareness of the cross-cultural challenges facing their child, inform themselves of curriculum content and standards, be aware of the instructional and support service options that are accessible to the students, participate in development of educational and transition plans, be familiar with the legal rights of deaf and hard of hearing students, and generally be engaged and informed about their students' schooling.

Objective 1:

SDUSD will provide ongoing training opportunities for parents to develop fluency in ASL and/or English.

Objective 2:

SDUSD will provide parents with a DHH parent/student handbook that will include comprehensive information, i.e., instructional and support service options, graduation requirements/grade level requirements, community resources, and district contacts.

Objective 3:

SDUSD will connect families to additional and easily accessible wrap-around services (including academic and social services) and/or resources needed by students.

Contact Information

D/HH Program

Low Incidence


Cory Hoffman

Lead Teacher

Jeanne Cicchetto

D/HH Central Office Resource teacher

Joel Firks

Supvr-Interpreter/ Transcriber

Audiology Assessment Center


Program at a Glance

We provide support services, direct and consultation, for students who are Deaf/ Hard-of-Hearing, a mandated service identified in California Education Code 56026.5 as a low incidence disability. Funding for low incidence students is set per pupil and is recognized in section 56836.22 of the Education Code. These funds are intended to supplement district supports for low incidence students.

In order to qualify for our services, a student must have an educationally significant hearing loss. A student can qualify based on audiologic information and academic testing.

Our program for Students who are Deaf/ Hard-of-Hearing is a nationally recognized program. We are able to provide the complete continuum of special education service options. Being a large SELPA we can provide all necessary supports to our students that many other districts and SELPAs cannot. As a result, we have several Inter-SELPA students from 10 neighboring districts/ SELPAs in elementary, middle school and high school.

Through our program, qualifying Deaf/ Hard-of-Hearing Students:

  • Will be provided with a variety of educational options including, but not limited to, separate classes, resource rooms, general education classes with a Special Education co-teacher, general, general education classes with SAI staff support, general education classes, non-public schools, or state residential schools.
  • Will have access to communication modalities that meet their individual needs, such as; auditory/oral, American Sign Language or Conceptually Accurate Signed English, alternative augmentative communication systems and/or technological communication devices.
  • Will meet Common Core Standards unless the Individual Education Program (IEP) team determines that differential proficiency standards are appropriate to the needs and potential of a given student.
  • Will be taught applied/functional living skills as needed.
  • Will be tested using standardized assessments to determine that grade level expectations are being met or to determine a level consistent with the student's ability. In the case of infant/preschool it should be determined that speech and language acquisition goals are being met.
  • Will be capable of being productive employable adults who possess independent living skills upon graduation from high school with either a diploma or letter of recognition.
  • Will be encouraged to continue their education beyond high school.
  • Will be encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities and/or community activities.

What do we do?

  • Provide direct and consultative services to itinerant students, home-based infant and SEEC students and students who are in DHH Specific SAI classes (Lafayette Elementary, Whitman Elementary, CPMA Middle School and Madison High School).
  • Serve students in any SDUSD school.
  • Provide support to schools and staff via inservices, inform site teachers of student's disability and how to adapt or modify materials, monitor/ facilitate communication needs and manage auditory equip needs.

How to refer a student?

There is no official referral form for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services. If you are working with a student you feel needs our services and has a documented hearing loss, please contact the Low Incidence Department at (858) 490-8451 with a detailed description of educational concerns related to the hearing loss. You will be asked to provide an audiogram as well, so please have that available to send.

Again, we only provide services to students who qualify under Deaf or HH as federal handicapping conditions. However, if you have a student who uses sign supports to communicate, but does not have a hearing loss, please feel free to consult with our department as needed.

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