Independent Living covers a broad range of skills and needs related to adult living, from housing and skills at home to participating in and accessing community resources. The three areas of home living, community participation, and recreation/leisure together comprise the larger transition area called Independent Living. For deaf and hard of hearing students, additional considerations in the area of Independent Living should be made as related to accommodations as well as health care related to the hearing loss.
Considerations for Independent Living include housing arrangements for students in the future, whether this be on their own in an apartment, living with parents, or in a supported housing arrangement. All skills related to life at home also fall within this area: planning and preparing meals, grocery shopping, paying bills, budgeting and managing money, laundry and cleaning, and basic home care.
Evaluating and planning for needs related to community participation is also important. How will the student get around in the community? Does the student know how to access important community resources? This would include the grocery store, doctor/dentist’s office, ENT/audiologist, post office, and a variety of other necessary places. Does the student display characteristics of a good citizen? This is not limited to participating in elections, but in the broader sense of having civic pride–showing respect for the community, participating in groups or organizations, and generally being involved and connected to groups and people beyond the immediate family.
IEP teams should consider whether or not development of goals and objectives related to social skills are necessary for D/HH students. These could include development of social skills, forming friendships, developing healthy relationships, involvement with D/HH groups/organizations/activities, use of social media, and other goals aimed at helping students maintain connection with others and to avoid social isolation. The State of Minnesota’s Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services regional offices and website can also be of assistance in locating resources and services for individuals who are D/HH.
It is also important for the IEP team to evaluate and consider if the student has needs related to time management and self-direction: Can the student make and keep his/her own appointments? Does the student use a calendar/datebook to keep track of appointments and schedules? Does the student keep important papers and documents organized? Does the student come to school/work/community activities prepared? Does the student carry proper identification? Does the student carry a purse or wallet? For deaf and hard of hearing students, this also includes carrying pen and paper for writing notes, as well as carrying the orange or yellow D/HH identification card.