Students with all communication modes and devices are welcome at Iowa School for the Deaf! Some students have mild hearing losses; others are students who are profoundly deaf. Many students are somewhere between. Students and staff communicate in a variety of modes, too.  Cochlear implants and hearing aids in bright colors are common on campus. Some students do not use any devices.

Visitors are surprised at how “loud” ISD really is! A flurry of signing and speech is evident both in the classrooms and throughout campus. American Sign Language is used on campus. Employees are required to attain and retain a level of signing, based on the amount of interaction they have with students. Depending on individual student needs, teachers sign, speak or teach using both communication modes. Primarily, teachers will use one mode at a time so the lesson is clear in the child’s preferred learning language.

Specialized, licensed teachers communicate directly with students.

Top 10 Advantages at Iowa School for the Deaf

  1. Direct communication between students and teachers means nothing is lost in translation.
  2. Teachers are licensed in both deaf education and a content area.
  3. All staff are required to attain and retain sign language proficiency levels.
  4. Mainstream options are offered.
  5. There are on-site speech language pathologists.
  6. Students speak, use sign language, or both. Some students have cochlear implants or hearing aids, while some use no hearing devices.
  7. Small class sizes encourage students to express their opinions and ideas.
  8. A language-rich environment surrounds students who board on campus.
  9. Friends interact directly (no interpreter needed!)
  10. Students/families do not pay to attend ISD. It is financed by state and federal governments with special costs billed to school district.


No tuition, room or board is charged. ISD is one option for free and appropriate education for deaf or hard-of-hearing students. It is supported by state and federal dollars.


Candidates for Iowa School for the Deaf should:

  • Have an audiogram which shows a hearing loss
  • Be under 21 years old
  • Be residents of either Iowa or Nebraska
  • Benefit from one or more of the aspects of Iowa School for the Deaf’s unique programming

Cochlear Implants

We welcome children with cochlear implants! Many of ISD’s students have implants, and benefit from the school’s language-rich environment.

  • It can be beneficial to have access to another language, for instance, when a cochlear implant is not working.
  • To keep students on the learning track, a strong language base is needed. This is especially important as a child adjusts to the implant and attaches meanings to sounds they hear.
  • Students discriminate sounds at different rates.
  • Reading, writing and language classes use strategies developed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
  • Students with speech are encouraged to use it throughout the day.
  • Amplification devices are monitored daily by classroom teachers.
  • On-site audiologists quickly remedy problems.
  • Speech-language pathologists are current on cochlear implant trends and strategies.
  • Intensive speech and language therapy helps students filled in language gaps which often exist with students who have good articulation.