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Legislative Agenda

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  • Education

    Increase funding for the Deaf Mentor Family Program, as part of the DHHSD bill, HF 774 (Pierson) / SF 738 (Hoffman)

    • This early intervention program provides trained deaf adults as role models, language models, and ASL teachers for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing
    • It is evidence-based and recommended by the National Academy of Pediatrics
    • Mentors help parents adjust, teach communication, give parents hope and children language and self-esteem
    • Program needs more funding to eliminate waiting list and expand its reach

    Support funding and infrastructure request for the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

    The Minnesota State Academies has 5 requests that are included in 4 different bills.

    • Three of the requests are included in the Governor's bonding bill, HF 892 (Urdahl) / SF 640 (Pappas)
    • Two of these bonding requests have also been introduced as separate bills: SF 903 (Jasinski) / HF 763 (Daniels) - $2 million for capital asset preservation improvements and betterments on both campuses; HF 764 (Daniels) / SF 902 (Jasinski) - $50,000 for MSAD campus security corridor
    • Two of the requests are included in the Governor's Education bill, HF 890 (Loon) / SF 718 (Nelson)

    Support increased funding for Deaf ABE (Adult Basic Education) provided in ASL

    Require that a student's need for assistive technology be considered when developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP), HF 1339 (Erickson) / SF 1198 (Hoffman)

    • When developing an IEP or IFSP, the team needs to consider whether assistive technology could help the student succeed
    • Assistive technology could include closed captions on video, the use of a microphone, screenreader software, or a braille display
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  • Age-Related Hearing Loss

    Require good acoustics and hearing loops in state-funded construction, HF 423 (Theis) / SF 161 (Rest)

    • Projects paid for with state funding should be built with acoustical standards in mind and include Hearing Loops (the hearing assistive technology preferred by those with hearing aids), when financially feasible

    Require training for staff at assisted living facilities, HF 952 (Kiel) / SF 818 (Housley)

    • Age-related hearing loss impedes communication and is linked to increased rates of dementia, falls, hospitalizations, depression, and isolation
    • Staff at senior facilities need to know how to recognize and accommodate age-related hearing loss to facilitate communication and engagement
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  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD)

    Modernize the services and increase funding, HF 774 (Pierson) / SF 738 (Hoffman)

    • As a follow-up to the studies done over the last two years, update law to modernize services statewide for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing adults and children
    • Increase funding to ensure the continuation of sufficient DeafBlind services, mental health services in ASL, and equipment labs with updated equipment
    • Ensure staff, training, and equipment are available to make communication access available to children and adults in all regions of the state
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  • Strengthening Commission

    Increase funding to expand Commission’s impact advocating for communication access and equal opportunity, HF 1043 (Baker) / SF 948 (Senjem)

    • Provide more information in American Sign Language (ASL) through video
    • Expand work on age-related hearing loss, education, and employment
    • Ensure that Commission has the capacity to monitor the implementation of laws passed
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  • Communication Access

    Encourage all companies to have accessible websites and require vendors for the state to do so

    • Include language encouraging all businesses to make their websites fully accessible
    • Require the state to give preference to doing business with businesses that have accessible websites
    • Furthermore, require that states only give business to IT companies that have accessible websites, since IT companies at least should know how to make their sites accessible.
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  • Employment

    Continue Vocational Rehabilitation services for Category 1 consumers HF 1081 (Garofalo) / SF 942 (Miller) 

    • Add $3.5 million a year for a total of $7 million to ensure that people can receive employment services promptly 
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  • Elections

    Respect the privacy of voters who use accessible voting equipment, HF 1569 (Peterson) / SF 1141 (Nelson)

    • New accessible voting equipment uses ballots that are a different size than those used by other voters
    • This means that election judges who worked in the polling place on Election Day could know who cast that ballot
    • This bill protects voter's privacy by preventing election judges from conducting a recount of votes in that precinct if fewer than 10 voters used the accessible voting equipment
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