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Ask MNCDHH: Question about MNCDHH & DHHSD

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3/1/2018 7:47:02 AM

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What's the Difference between MNCDHH & DHHSD?

MNCDHH and DHHSD are both agencies that work to advance the lives of people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing in Minnesota. However, there are clear and distinct differences between us.

DHHSD (also known as the Division)

The Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) was created first. It was created thanks to advocacy done by the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing communities. In 1978, a study showed that people who were deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing were not able to access the same services as people who can hear. The community demanded that a law be passed to fix the problem. 

DHHSD, with its statewide regional offices, was created in 1980 to serve as a central entry point for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing individuals and their families seeking access to human services. The regional offices also provide technical assistance and training to public and private entities about how to provide appropriate services to the community. The regional offices have established advisory committees that provide input on current and future service delivery. In addition to the regional offices, DHHSD oversees the Telephone Equipment Distribution Program, the mental health program and community-based grant contracts for specialized services.  

DHHSD provides direct client services and, as a state agency, is bound by state regulations, policies and budget parameters set by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Governor. The way DHHSD influences policy is by submitting legislative proposals to DHS. DHS and other state agencies propose ideas to the Governor and the Governor decides what to include in the budget he or she proposes to the legislature.   

MNCDHH (also known as the Commission)

The Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans (MNCDHH) was created in 1985, five years after DHHSD was established.   

Why was a separate agency needed and what is different about what the Commission is allowed to do? 

Deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing advocates were frustrated when the Governor didn’t support requests for new services or more funding.  The community wanted to influence laws and policies in education, health, and employment and other parts of state government, not only Human Services (which is where DHHSD is located). 

MNCDHH works with community stakeholders through its strategic planning process,  task forces, and work groups to: 

  • identify barriers, or problems 
  • develop, advocate and implement solutions 

MNCDHH promotes civic engagement through voter education and advocacy. In addition, MNCDHH works with state agencies, nonprofits, lawyers, legislators, community organizations, researchers and lobbyists to advocate for policies and laws that protect or increase communication access and equal opportunity. 

How are MNCDHH & DHHSD related?

We are related in two ways:

  • First, one member from each of the 8 DHHSD Regional Advisory Committees is appointed by the Governor to serve on the MNCDHH board to ensure there is regional representation of local community needs and so they can influence policies that affect their local areas.  
  • Second, MNCDHH is an independent agency that purchases technology, budget and human resource services through the Department of Human Services (DHS). 

Sometimes MNCDHH and DHHSD partner together in community efforts but we are separate agencies with different roles. 

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