Leading up to three bills and supporting six bills led by others
2/11/2022 1:49:53 PM
If you are DeafBlind or prefer to watch the video in a slow-paced, high contrast format, watch the DeafBlind friendlier ASL version instead.
The 2022 legislative session began on Monday, January 31. MNCDHH has a robust agenda and we are excited to share it with you. This year we are leading up to three bills and supporting six bills led by others.
A solution is needed to require hearing aid providers to educate consumers on telecoils (t-coils) in hearing aids. People have the right to be informed when they purchase hearing aids. Unfortunately, most do not know telecoils exist or how to use them. Some people are even told that telecoils are outdated technology. The truth is that Bluetooth technology is technology that is best used in certain situations such as one-on-one conversations. Telecoils, in contrast, can also be used in different situations such as a large meeting or event. In a perfect world, all hearing aids would have both Bluetooth and telecoil capabilities. Hearing aid user Jeanne Kolo-Johnson compares both technologies to purchases for her kitchen.
“I’II have a microwave that's a newer technology, but I'm not going to get rid of my stove because they do two different jobs. Bluetooth and t-coils are kind of the same thing, they do two different jobs and they're equally important.”
The goal is to ensure that the people who buy hearing aids are given complete and accurate information during their purchase.
Sometimes school districts are not aware that interveners provide a different service from paraprofessionals. A clear definition in education law will help. In 2019, MNCDHH successfully added intervener language that applies to anyone who is DeafBlind, including adults. However, we are still missing the definition of interveners for students who are DeafBlind in the education system. MNCDHH is working to resolve this gap. In MNCDHH’s 2021 study on services for DeafBlind children and youth in Minnesota, families reported that they
“experienced challenges with helping school based professionals to understand the critical role that interveners play in their child’s education.”
This bill will update the language in MNCDHH’s statute. The language will give the Governor’s Office more flexibility to appoint board members with lived experiences that align with the issues worked on by MNCDHH. For example, if MNCDHH needs a board member with lived experience regarding age-related hearing loss, DeafBlind access, or deaf education, etc., the language in the statute needs to give the Governor’s Office more flexibility to accommodate our needs.
The bill number is HF3144. At this time, we are waiting for the Senate bill number. This is a different bill than before. The new bill includes recommendations from the Interpreter Licensure work group led by the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, which had representatives from the Minnesota Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (MRID) and a DeafBlind individual. This bill is to establish an interpreter licensure board. The licensure board will be responsible for establishing a licensing process and a grievance process. The licensure board will follow a rulemaking process. The State of Minnesota has a detailed and lengthy process for rulemaking, which includes public comments for possible rules and public hearings.
The bill numbers are HF1362 and SF1961. This bill will require school districts to establish a process for providing reasonable accommodations for parents to participate in developing their child’s Individualized Education Program. The district will also be required to make sure that their process is easily understandable and inform parents of the process, in their native language if appropriate. School districts will need to respond to accommodations requests within five school days.
The bill numbers are HF1134 and SF1136. This bill adds new language under Human Rights to a list of general prohibitions against disability discrimination. If passed, the language requires that when television services are provided to other individuals, then it unlawful to not provide closed captioning to deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
The bill numbers are HF2017 and SF1570. This bill will strengthen Minnesota statutes concerning employees with disabilities. The new language makes improvements such as ensuring hiring agencies are aware of the accommodation fund, increasing the number of ADA coordinators, and shortening the average time for employees hired through Connect 700 (a trial work program) to begin receiving the same benefits as other employees. In 2019, MNCDHH successfully passed a bill that established an advisory group that would study and submit recommendations to the legislature and Minnesota Management & Budget on how to improve the recruitment and retention of state employees with disabilities. MNCDHH served on the advisory group, which convened from September 2019 to January 2021. In 2021, the advisory group submitted a report with recommendations to the legislature. This bill reflects those recommendations.
The bill numbers are HF1408 and SF2291. This bill modifies language in educational interpreter law. Currently, the language requires that an educational interpreter must complete an Interpreter Training Program (ITP). Nationwide, there is no ITP for Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs). The language in this bill would allow a CDI to work in schools without completing an ITP program and would allow school districts to be reimbursed for the salary of the CDI.
The bill numbers are HF35 and SF0416. This bill was introduced last year and gives the Minnesota Council on Disability the ability to provide grants for city and county governments to make their websites accessible. Supporting this bill continues MNCDHH’s long tradition in advocating for digital accessibility. In 2005, we passed a captioning bill that provides grants coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) for live news programs in Greater Minnesota. In 2009, we passed a bill requiring that state agencies follow the digital accessibility standards established by the State Chief Information Officer.
MNCDHH will continue to share legislative updates during this session. Please subscribe to our newsletters or follow our website and social media to stay up to date. Find our information on our website. If you would like to discuss any of the bills, please reach out to our government relations director, Alicia Lane-Outlaw, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing thanks:
James Paul Beldon for ASL talent.
Patty McCutcheon for voiceover.
Keystone Interpreting Solutions for film production.