State of Wisconsin Eligibility Criteria for Children with Disability

Speech or Language Impairment

  1. Speech or language impairment means an impairment of speech or sound production, voice, fluency, or language that significantly affects educational performance or social, emotional or vocational development.
  2. The IEP team may identify a child as having a speech or language impairment if the child meets the definition under par. (a) and meets any of the following criteria:
    1.  The child's conversational intelligibility is significantly affected and the child displays at least one of the following:
      1. The child performs on a norm referenced test of articulation or phonology at least 1.75 standard deviations below the mean for his or her chronological age.
      2. Demonstrates consistent errors in speech sound production beyond the time when 90% of typically developing children have acquired the sound.
    2. One or more of the child's phonological patterns of sound are at least 40% disordered or the child scores in the moderate to profound range of phonological process use in formal testing and the child's conversational intelligibility is significantly affected.
    3. The child's voice is impaired in the absence of an acute, respiratory virus or infection and not due to temporary physical factors such as allergies, short term vocal abuse, or puberty. The child exhibits atypical loudness, pitch, quality or resonance for his or her age and gender.
    4. The child exhibits behaviors characteristic of a fluency disorder.
    5. The child's oral communication or, for a child who cannot communicate orally, his or her primary mode of communication, is inadequate, as documented by all of the following:
      1. Performance on norm referenced measures that is at least 1.75 standard deviations below the mean for chronological age.
      2. Performance in activities is impaired as documented by informal assessment such as language sampling, observations in structured and unstructured settings, interviews, or checklists.
      3. The child's receptive or expressive language interferes with oral communication or his or her primary mode of communication. When technically adequate norm referenced language measures are not appropriate as determined by the IEP team to provide evidence of a deficit of 1.75 standard deviations below the mean in the area of oral communication, then 2 measurement procedures shall be used to document a significant difference from what would be expected given consideration to chronological age, developmental level, and method of communication such as oral, manual, and augmentative. These procedures may include additional language samples, criterion referenced instruments, observations in natural environments and parent reports.
  3. The IEP team may not identify a child who exhibits any of the following as having a speech or language impairment:
    1. Mild, transitory or developmentally appropriate speech or language difficulties that children experience at various times and to various degrees.
    2. Speech or language performance that is consistent with developmental levels as documented by formal and informal assessment data unless the child requires speech or language services in order to benefit from his or her educational programs in school, home, and community environments.
    3. Speech or language difficulties resulting from dialectical differences or from learning English as a second language, unless the child has a language impairment in his or her native language.
    4. Difficulties with auditory processing without a concomitant documented oral speech or language impairment.
    5. A tongue thrust which exists in the absence of a concomitant impairment in speech sound production.
    6. Elective or selective mutism or school phobia without a documented oral speech or language impairment.
  4. The IEP team shall substantiate a speech or language impairment by considering all of the following:
    1. Formal measures using normative data or informal measures using criterion referenced data.
    2. Some form of speech or language measures such as developmental checklists, intelligibility ratio, language sample analysis, minimal core competency.
    3. Information about the child's oral communication in natural environments.
    4. Information about the child's augmentative or assistive communication needs.
  5. An IEP team shall include a department-licensed speech or language pathologist and information from the most recent assessment to document a speech or language impairment and the need for speech or language services.

Copies of all appropriate eligibility criteria are to be provided by the case manager to all IEP team members at the IEP meeting.

For further inquiries regarding special education, please contact Nissan Bar Lev, Director of Special Education CESA #7, telephone (920) 849-9384, or check the CESA #7 special education web site at:

508 Bobby Approved
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