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Communication Access in the Workplace

What is the problem?

  • The state is facing a worker shortage and needs to encourage employment
  • Without training and support, deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing workers are not hired or face a revolving door
  • Other disability groups are guaranteed $28 million per biennium in employment supports and extended employment; deaf workers are guaranteed $0
  • Without funding, the organizations that offer these critical services have to lay off staff and cut back-not expand the way we need them to.

Who is affected?

Working-age deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing adults and youth.

What is the proposed solution?

Supportive employment programs for deaf adults and transition-aged youth have proven results:

  • For every $1 spent on adults, $3 is returned in wages
  • 90% of youth in programs like VECTOR are employed or enrolled in post-secondary education at the time of graduation

Funding for Communication Access Training in the Workplace

HF 1023 (Hamilton) / SF 486 (Schmit) (external link)

  • The bill will expand services from just the metro area to Greater Minnesota
  • The proposal is for $1.2 million per year for both transition-aged youth and adults and would provide grants in the metro area and Greater Minnesota

The Jobs Finance bill passed during the special session included $1 million per year for grants to groups like VECTOR and MEC to provide communication access supports for adults and youth who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing.

Thanks to the bill authors, Representative Rod Hamilton and Senator Matt Schmit, and to Conference Committee Chairs, Representative Pat Garofalo and Senator Dave Tomassoni.

What's next?

The Department of Employment and Economic Development will send out a request for proposals that groups like VECTOR and MEC can respond to in order to receive funding.

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