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Acronyms & Special Education - An Ethical Issue?

Posted Jan 23 2013 9:55am
Seal of the United States District Court for t...
Seal of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia )











It pays to read those footnotes!  I came across a doosey in a recent court decision. The topic involves acronyms .

In B.R. ex rel. K.O. v. New York City Department of Education 60 IDELR 102 (SDNY 01/26/2012) footnote number one was a real killer.  The court said as follows:
" Unfortunately, '[t]his opinion, dealing as it does with the IDEA and practices thereunder, is replete with acronyms.' M.H. v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ. (M.H. II), 685 F.3d 217, 223 n.l (2d Cir. 2012). One suspects that regulators and bureaucrats love such jargon because it makes even simple matters cognizable only to the cognoscenti and thus enhances their power at the expense of people who only know English. Nevertheless, acronyms have so invaded IDEA practice that this judge, like others before him, is pretty much stuck with having to use them."    OUCH!

This indictment of acronyms reminds me of a panel I saw at one of the fabulous CADRE conferences a few years back. The panel was a success story type of panel - young successful adults who had previously been special education students.  One criticism that was unanimous among  the panel members was that special ed professionals use too many acronyms.

You know what they mean.  IDEA requires that FAPE be provided in the LRE, using an IEP with a possible fba and a bip. Not to mention SLD, ODD, ED,ADHD, RtI, PT, OT...
But an interesting wrinkle on the topic acronyms involves an ethical dimension.  A speaker at last year's NAHO conference suggested that the use of legalese in public documents is an ethical issue. He posited that people should be able to understand public documents.  Is this also true of acronyms?  Should we avoid the acronym trap in hearing decisions and procedural safeguards booklets?  What are your thoughts?
------- Thanks for subscribing! Jim Gerl
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