Resource Materials and Technology Center for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Is a functional listening evaluation required for students who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) to complete the Florida Communication Plan and/or Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

A functional listening evaluation (FLE) is not required for the Florida Communication Plan or the Individual Education Plan (IEP). It is best practice to complete an FLE annually. Sometimes, more than one type of FLE is used. Other circumstances might warrant an FLE more often such as if there are changes to the student’s learning environment or hearing levels. This ensures students can access instruction to the maximum extent possible. 

A functional listening evaluation is a diagnostic tool used to help teams make data-driven educational decisions about instruction, accommodations, assistive technology, accessible instructional materials, related services, supplementary aids, and student interaction with the learning environment. Many people confuse a functional listening evaluation and The Functional Listening Evaluation (The FLE), written by Cheryl DeConde Johnson, thinking these terms are interchangeable. The FLE is one specific functional listening evaluation that can be used to drive decisions made by the IEP team. Whereas, a functional listening evaluation can be any one of a variety of different informal hearing assessments not to be confused with The FLE. Phonak has a collection of their informal assessments on their page for “Child Hearing Assessments.”  

The IEP team should look at different factors to decide which FLE to perform. In the event a particular FLE doesn’t accurately capture a student’s performance, the IEP team may use more than one or even just components of multiple different tools. The team should use data from the FLE to determine if there are tasks that are difficult for the student to do independently and break down the essential components to guide the discussion in determining accommodations. In addition, the IEP team should review the instructional materials used in all classes to make sure they are accessible for the student at the same time as their peers. When a student is going through trials with a particular piece of hearing assistive technology (HAT), it is best practice to conduct an FLE to gather data to support whether or not that piece of AT is appropriate for the child. The data gathered from functional listening evaluations are included in the communication plan to inform the IEP.

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The information contained in the FAQ does not constitute legal advice. Please refer to the original sources listed in each FAQ for more information.