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

What is the least restrictive environment (LRE) for students who are deaf/hard of hearing?

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) section 300.114 of Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) states:

Each public agency must ensure that— To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled.

However, for children who are deaf/hard of hearing (DHH), the LRE may be different due to their communication needs. A good rule of thumb is to think of LRE as “language-rich environment”.

As IDEA 34 CFR § 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv) states:

The IEP Team shall consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child’s language and communication needs, opportunities for direct [emphasis added] communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode [emphasis added], academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction [emphasis added] in the child’s language and communication mode.

When an IEP team makes the decisions about LRE, the team must consider the continuum of alternative placements. This continuum includes the different options where students can receive services. This includes placements such as 

  • a general education classroom, 
  • a general education classroom, with some services being delivered in a resource room,
  • a self-contained classroom,
  • a special education school,
  • at home, and 
  • in a hospital or other public or private institution.

According to Chapter 1003.57, Florida Statutes (F.S):

c. “Regular class” means a class in which a student spends 80 percent or more of the school week with nondisabled peers.

d. “Resource room” means a classroom in which a student spends between 40 percent to 80 percent of the school week with nondisabled peers.

e. “Separate class” means a class in which a student spends less than 40 percent of the school week with nondisabled peers.

See below for the D/HH Continuum of Services from the Florida’s Educational Opportunities for Students with Sensory Impairments booklet:

D/HH Continuum of Services pyramid with largest section at the top and smallest section at the bottom. From largest to smallest as follows: Itinerant Services, Resource Room Instruction, Self-Contained Class at School, Special Day School, Residential School, Special Classes and Individual Instruction Not at School.


Supporting Resources:

Statutes, Technical Assistance Papers (TAPs), other legal references 
Other resources
Online PD


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