Change may be coming to Deaf legislation in Louisiana. In March, House Bill 199 was proposed. This bill would create the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) Task Force to develop a framework for assessing children who are Deaf or hard of hearing to determine their language skills and ensure they are ready for Kindergarten. The LEAD-K Task Force would be comprised of passionate people who want to make sure that Deaf children are not left behind.
Paula Rodriguez is only one of the many passionate people urging Louisiana to pass House Bill 199. Rodriguez used to counsel Deaf children as a social worker. She noticed that most of the time, parents referred their children to her because they were having behavior problems. Their children were acting out in class, and their parents could not figure out why.
"So when they come to counseling because they're acting out because of behavior issues, usually it's because they're having a tough time communicating," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez explained that Deaf children often resorted to aggression when they cannot communicate, and this inspired Rodriguez to begin advocating for them. She is now the Founder and Director of Deaf Focus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Rodriguez has many people behind her also pushing House Bill 199 to become law. Ari Latino, Victoria Regueira and Jay Isch are only three of the many people amongst the Deaf community that support the LEAD-K Task Force.