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New DHHSD Law Explained

New law for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division

6/15/2017 8:43:15 AM

ASL version

If you are DeafBlind, or prefer to watch the video in a slower format, watch the DeafBlind friendly ASL version instead.

English version

The law that created the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) was originally written 37 years ago, in 1980. Of course, the rest of the world has changed a lot since 1980, with the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act and huge advancements in technology. DHHSD’s law became out of date and the funding wasn’t enough to meet current needs.

DHHSD conducted studies and got feedback from the community in 2015 and 2016 about our shared needs and vision for the future. The Commission worked with DHHSD and legislators during the legislative session to make the community’s vision a reality.

The update will describe what’s new about the law. DHHSD will continue to provide the excellent services they have always provided including:

  • individual assistance, as needed, to people whose needs are not met by other agencies
  • mental health services in American Sign Language
  • grants for Children’s mental health services, DeafBlind services, Deaf Mentor Family Program, and greater access to interpreters
  • the law also allows DHHSD to provide psychiatric services in American Sign Language, if funding is available.

What’s new?

Community’s Vision: Resource Centers

Here's the community's vision. DHHSD is one of the first places where people look to find resources and advice; it’s easy to find them, contact them and receive services no matter where we live in the state. Regional offices become gathering places for our community, including our families, interpreters, itinerant teachers, SSPs, and interveners and collaborate with nonprofits and other state agencies to maximize involvement and connection, build community strength, and increase communication access.

How the new law helps make it happen

  • DHHSD will expand connections with other government agencies, nonprofit agencies, and businesses that serve our communities
  • DHHSD will explore sharing offices with other agencies
  • In addition to having DHHSD staff provide trainings, the new law encourages them also host trainings led by other experts
  • DHHSD will refer clients to other agencies that can provide the services in a way that will meet a client’s needs.
  • DHHSD will have a new, independent website with more content available in ASL
  • DHHSD will provide stationary or mobile equipment labs in every region of the state so that people can see which equipment works best for them before purchasing it for themselves.
  • DHHSD will add a directory of real-time captioning (CART) providers and agencies in addition to the interpreter directory they already provide.

Community’s Vision: Access to Technology

Here's the community's vision. DHHSD finds classrooms around the state with technology that allows people to fully participate in fully accessible interactive trainings. People without good internet access at home can communicate with DHHSD and get needed services.

How the new law makes this happen:

  • DHHSD will keep a minimum of 6 regional offices (can be satellite or physical offices)
  • DHHSD will explore new partnerships with other state agencies or organizations with great technology to expand DHHSD services and trainings
  • The law sets aside some funding for technology and training about technology for staff, which will make it easier for people to get services.

Community’s vision: Communication with Community

Here's the community's vision. DHHSD will receive feedback from the community about our needs and report back to the community and Legislature about its activities. This two-way communication will ensure that DHHSD is meeting the community’s changing needs and that the Legislature knows what is needed.

How the new law makes this happen:

  • Regional advisory committees will annually identify regional needs and provide feedback on how to better address service gaps
  • DHHSD will report on its activities and progress and service gaps to the Legislature every other year, starting in January 2019
  • DHHSD and the Commission will develop recommendations for modernizing the Telephone Equipment Distribution (TED) program by January 2018
  • DHHSD will do a report by January 2018 on the costs and benefits of potentially billing for mental health services

Community’s vision: DeafBlind Services

Here's the community's vision. Services are provided to DeafBlind people in a way that is as easy to access as possible and provides flexibility.

How the new law makes this happen:

  • All DeafBlind services will be provided through an organization that receives funding from DHHSD, instead of DHHSD providing some of the coordination of services themselves
  • DHHSD will provide funding for trainings about ProTactile and possibly other tactile communication methods. The trainings will be offered to people who are DeafBlind, Support Service Providers (SSPs), interveners and interpreters

Community’s vision: Accessible Government Services

Here's the community's vision. All government agencies understand how to serve and provide communication access to deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people, so that we can receive government services from the same agencies as everyone else.

How the new law helps make this happen:

  • DHHSD will expand and standardize training to other state agencies, counties and departments in DHS (like chemical dependency and aging) on the needs of Deaf, DeafBlind and hard of hearing people.
  • DHHSD will research and develop best practices advice for emerging technologies and emerging issues, such as when it is best to use of Video Remote Interpreting or Certified Deaf Interpreters

Thank you to the community members who participated in the 2015-2016 surveys, to the legislators, to the DHHSD staff, and to the Commission board for all of their hard work that led to the passage of this bill. This law is the result of many years of work and the dedication shown by everyone who helped.

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