Sensory Support Services supports Students in PK3 through grade 5 with hearing or visual impairment.

The Sensory Support programs serve students who are deaf/hard of hearing or who are blind/visually impaired. These programs aim to help students develop the skills they need to learn successfully alongside their nondisabled peers and to live independently.


Students in the Sensory Support programs have a diagnosis that includes a sensory impairment or require communication and sensory support to access their school environment. Typically, students in these programs have average to above average cognitive abilities. However, some schools have classrooms created to serve students with sensory impairments and intellectual or cognitive delays.

Instructional Model

Academic instruction in the Sensory Support programs is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the DCPS Scope and Sequence. Classroom staff provides instruction in American Sign Language and other services to students who are deaf/hard of hearing. For younger students in the Auditory/Oral Inclusion program, oral language development is encouraged and paired with simple signs when appropriate.  For students who have visual impairments, teacher of the visually impaired and other specialists provide braille instruction as well as orientation and mobility training that helps students navigate their school and community. Sensory Support classrooms also help students develop communication and daily living skills that provide them the opportunity to succeed inside and outside the classroom. Students typically spend most of their school day in the general education setting and receive state-of-the-art technological support (such as assistive listening devices) or other support to help them access the curriculum. The Sensory Support programs also offer auditory/verbal-oral training, support for residual hearing, cochlear implant support and sound amplification.  Reading programs such as Edmark and Failure Free Reading as well as other programs at Payne ES are available to students in Sensory Support programs.

Classroom Support

Each classroom for students who are deaf/hard of hearing is staffed with a teacher of the deaf. Sensory Support classrooms also have instructional paraprofessionals who provide additional support. Specially trained and certified related service providers support students in accordance with their IEP.  During its modernization, Payne Elementary School was equipped with an induction loop system throughout all classrooms and common spaces (e.g., auditorium and hallways).  This special technology magnetically transmits sound directly to the hearing aides and cochlear implants of those with hearing impairments to provide optimal sound for students with hearing impairments by.  Additionally, Payne ES houses DCPS’ Audiology Department and the only audiology booth where hearing assessments are conducted daily for students throughout the city.

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* Please note, enrollment in these special programs is available only through placement via Location of Service determination which is a Central Office function.