ASTra Educational Advocacy

Families may struggle to find educational programming that is a fit for the unique needs of their child who is deaf or hard of hearing. Minnesota Hands & Voices provides educational advocacy support and resources to families who have questions about special education law and how it applies to students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The ASTra Educational Advocacy Program is a deaf and hard of hearing educational advocacy program that embodies the mission and vision of Hands & Voices. ASTra stands for Advocacy, Support, and Training. The program provides information and resources for parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing that address the needs of these learners. ASTra content is derived from years of direct advocacy experience working with families in schools, attending advocacy training sessions from legal experts, and the Hands & Voices Educational Advocacy Guidebook (©2013).

Additional resources and articles can be found at the Hands & Voices ASTra Advocacy Tools and Products page.

Minnesota Hands & Voices offers workshops with national advocacy experts from Hands & Voices Headquarters. During these workshops, the first of which was held in 2014, parents are able to further develop their advocacy skills and increase their confidence in advocating for their children.

Individual trainings from the workshop can be accessed with a password. The videos are captioned, ASL interpreted, and voiced.

To gain password-protected access to these videos, please contact your parent guide at:

Phone: (Toll-Free) 866-346-4543
Video Access

PACER Center is another local advocacy resource. PACER Center is a parent training and information center for families of children and youth with all disabilities from birth to young adults. Located in Minneapolis, it serves families across the nation, as well as those in Minnesota. Parents can find publications, workshops, and other resources to help make decisions about education, vocational training, employment, and other services. PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center provides resources designed to benefit all students.

PACER parent advocates have developed a tool called the Parent Homework Sheet. It was developed to help parents understand how the needs of the student, as stated in the special education evaluation report, connect with the goals and support in the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program). A series of short videos will help parents prepare to discuss their child’s special education services with the IEP team. Also available is a video overview of special education in American Sign Language.

Contact PACER via email, by phone 952.838.9000 or toll free at 800.537.2237.

Please contact Minnesota Hands & Voices with questions about educational advocacy or for information about the ASTra Program.


About MN Hands & Voices

Minnesota Hands & Voices is a community of families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

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Our Minnesota Stories

Read about the experiences of other families in the Minnesota Hands & Voices community.

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Advocacy Training

We provide support & resources to families who have questions about the special education law.

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Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) refers to the practice of screening every newborn for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge. Infants not passing the screening receive diagnostic evaluation before three months of age and, when necessary, are enrolled in early intervention programs by six months of age. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) laws or voluntary compliance programs that screen hearing.

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