Special Needs Program

WELCOME to the Special Needs page targeting Deaf and Hard of Hearing students with additional disabilities.  We aim to inspire and partner with those who face challenges with open hands.  Finding the right program for your child is a process. Giving your child a place where they can maximize their learning comes from having a supportive team.


Within this section, you will find resources for variety of areas and description of various programs that are offered for parents as well as educators.

Life Skills Program

The Life Skills Program offers opportunities for students who are Deaf and have additional disabilities to learn various skills needed to be successful, independent and functional citizens after high school. Students in this program will obtain a Certificate of Completion upon graduation. The program offers both functional academics and life skills for students who perform significantly below grade-level and have individualized goals. Instruction increases from classroom to community based instruction, in order to facilitate a transfer of skills from theory to practice, as each student approaches graduation. The approach used to support teaching functional academic and life skills to persons who exhibit a range of learning characteristics and abilities include the following, but are not limited to:


  • Adapting/modifying materials to give students access to the curricular topic by developing and applying concrete competencies related to the world outside school through real-world tasks.

  • Following the student’s interest or strength – making learning meaningful

  • Exercising literacy structure with high expectations that tie communication with literacy materials and accessible activities that are geared towards the student’s individual level

  • Utilizing systematic and direct instruction to engage the student with a hands-on functional approach using real-life examples.

Life Skills Program Courses



Life Skills Program courses are designed as a 4-year cumulative program that is individualized to each student based on individual goals, needs and skills. Emphasis is on courses related to real-world experiences: Language Arts (reading, writing and communication), Math, Science, Social Skills, community based learning, occupational competence and some elective courses where appropriate.



(reading, writing and communication)


Students will read articles from news, restaurant menu, notes, directions, schedule or to-do lists to develop reading and vocabulary skills and gain general knowledge. They will develop sequencing, interferences, cause/effect, and questioning skills from these materials. The students will read, spell and apply use of functional words with real-life opportunities through medicine labels, the calendar, environmental signs, cleaning and household product labels, food labels, and job applications. The students will communicate through writing, American Sign Language and pictures.



(number sense, computation, problem solving, geometry, measurement, algebra and functions)


Students will use the correct process of addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division to solve everyday math problems. These problems will include: counting the amount of money needed and/or using the next dollar approach, knowing when they will receive change back, figuring sale tax, sale discounts, and using coupons to make purchases. Students will be able to manage money, set-up a simple budget, and maintain a savings and/or a checking account including making deposits, withdrawals, reconciling a checkbook and use of an ATM machine. Students will have understanding of time management including being able to add how many hours they work within a time period for full and/or part-time employment.



Social Skills leads the students in improving and developing relationships with others, including family members and peers. An emphasis is placed on values, decision-making, and goal setting. Students with additional disabilities do not learn social skills naturally, instead, they learn best when the unwritten social rules are broken down into steps and taught specifically. Some repetitions and emphasis is required to help acquire specific skills being taught.



Students will develop skills needed to function as an adult in today’s society. They will study interpersonal standards, lifespan roles and responsibilities, individual and family resource management, and financial responsibility and resources. Students will utilize thinking skills, communication skills, and fundamentals in order to be prepared for the adulthood.



Students will learn about specific health issues, such as mental and emotional health, drug prevention, human development and family health; health care, non-communicable and communicable diseases, and tobacco prevention. Sex Education topics will be discussed to expand better understanding of a person’s feelings and safety. Students will learn how to practice best health-enhancing behaviors and develop health and wellness advocacy skills.



Students receive opportunities to learn about themselves and their interests related to traditional and nontraditional occupations and careers. Skills in employability, understanding the economic process, and career decision making and planning are taught. Various activities, such as field trips and job shadowing help them make better informed decisions about future employment plans.



Students will develop the skills necessary to obtain and maintain employment. This will include knowing where to look for a job, using an interpreter, and working with a job coach. Students will be engaged in activities that lead to finding interest and skills in specific areas that lead to potential jobs. Job Skill Training Center is utilized to meet part of this requirement by providing a real-life experience with filling out applications/timesheets, starting/completing tasks independently and to master skills that help one live, which leads to maximize students’ potential to lead a productive and independent life.



Students will develop skills necessary to become an independent adult as possible. The goals in this class are often written to meet specific needs that may be included in the students’ Individualized Education Program. Language Arts and Math concepts are often applied in these courses to help generalize the skill in other environments. Topics covered intertwined, but is not limited to: personal care, intrapersonal relationships and health awareness skills, physical development, home cleaning and safety, miscellaneous domestic skills, money management and consumer skills, recreation and leisure and community services.



Life Science is similar to Biology and includes the following topic/skills as identified in the Indiana DOE’s ISTAR criteria: Nature of Science; Structures and Functions of Living Systems: Cellular Structure; Changes in Living Systems: Gene Expression; Changes in Living Systems: Heredity and Reproduction; and Changes in Living Systems: Evidence for Evolution to meet the requirement of ISTAR state standards.



Topics in Social Studies are similar to U.S History, World Geography, State and Local Government, and U.S. Government. Social Studies includes the following topic/skills as identified in the Indiana DOE’s ISTAR criteria: History – North America to 1610; Foundation of the United States to 1800; Chronology, Analysis and Interpretation; Civics and Government; Geography – Maps and Globes; Economy – Elements of a Market Economy; Economy – History of Early United States Economy.



Students will be exposed to various sport and recreational activities. This course can be offered multiple times with different topics: individual physical activities, outdoor pursuits, aquatics, dance, exercise, leisure, etc. The purpose of this course is to promote health and wellness in decision making. Students are encouraged to explore various activities that may interest them in a long term.



Elective courses are intertwined within the 4 year and varies from year to year to target interests of students where possible, such as Animal Care, Auto Detailing, Introduction to Technology, Functional Art, Photography, Building and Facilities Maintenance , Landscape Management, Radio and Television, community service, and work based internship.

Autism Resources

This page includes a list of various resources available to support students with Autism in the classroom, and at home.  

Deaf Students with Disabilities (Autism)


Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center

Gallaudet University

800 Florida Avenue NE.

Washington, DC 20002


Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center Website:



Autism Webcast:

More Than Meets the Eye:  An Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Christen Szymanski



The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder:

 Evidence Based Practices -- interventions supported by research to be effective in teaching specific skills.


Resources in Indiana:

Indiana Resource Center for Autism
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community 
Indiana University - Bloomington 
1905 North Range Rd.
Bloomington, IN 47408


Phone: 812-855-6508 / 1-800-825-4733
Fax: 812-855-9630
TTY: 812-855-9396 


Includes: Articles, Visual Support, Workshop & Events and Services in Indiana


Indiana Resource Center for Autism Home page


Frequently visited sites:

Hands in Autism

IUPUI Campus

Fesler Hall

1130 W. Michigan St.

Indianapolis, IN 46202


Phone: 317-274-2675

Fax: 317-274-3885

Email: hands@iupui.edu


Includes: Local resources, Information& Strategies, and training & services


Deaf with Disabilities


Deaf Students with Disabilities

Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center

Gallaudet University

800 Florida Avenue NE.

Washington, DC 20002


Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center Website:



For more information please visit:



Deaf Students with Disabilities Network


1200 E 42nd St
Indianapolis IN 46205

Voice: 317-550-4800

Videophone: 317-565-4473

Fax: 317-644-1841

©2018 by Indiana School for the Deaf