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News from Executive Director Darlene Zangara (March 2023)

Lobby Day, legislative updates, over-the-counter hearing aids ad, CEC and EHDI conferences

3/30/2023 6:33:54 PM

ASL version

If you are DeafBlind or prefer to watch the video in a high contrast format, watch the DeafBlind friendlier ASL version instead. To adjust the video speed, use YouTube's playback speed tool.

English version

Hello everyone! I’m Darlene Zangara and I’m the Executive Director of the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing. I am a white woman with blond hair, glasses, and wearing all black.

2023 Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day

The 2023 Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day happened on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. The theme of the day was “Access Empowers Us!”

The civic engagement team, vendors, staff, and board members spent hours preparing for this important event. Thank you to everyone who helped! Thank you to the community members and organizations who came and advocated! Meeting with your legislator, writing a letter, talking with legislative staff, all of this went a long way in educating legislators about communication access and how the policies they make impact us.

Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Secretary of State Steve Simon, and Senator John Hoffman, all spoke during the one-hour rally in the Capitol Rotunda.
Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan reminded us there are only 9 weeks left in the legislative session and talking to your legislators make a difference.

Secretary Simon talked about the importance of access to the elections system, which he calls the democracy business.

Senator Hoffman encouraged the audience to remind their legislators of their obligation to do what’s right for all of Minnesota, including people with disabilities or need access.

I also want to congratulate the award winners who were recognized this year. Minnesota is a community with wonderful advocates, and it was challenging for the awards committee to decide which advocates to recognize.

Thank you to the awards committee for their work. Visit our website to find the full list of award winners over the years, since 2003! 

A new feature this year was having a Poster Session. Students from ThinkSelf, the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, and Metro Deaf School created posters explaining why an issue is important for them.

For example, several groups presented on captioning access in public places. A group presented on Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs). Another group presented on the need for hearing aid coverage at any age. I enjoyed visiting each poster and watching the students share their information.

Legislative Updates

Alicia Lane, Government Relations Director, has been busy at the Capitol.

The first legislative deadline just happened on Friday, March 10, 2023. This is the deadline for a bill to be passed in their house of origin. For bills with an HF number, this is the House. For bills with a SF number, this is the Senate.

So far, we are cautiously optimistic for a good session and are happy with how the bill hearings are going. As I film this, my team is working on a more in-depth legislative update so be on the lookout for that.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Ad

The Commission has an ad running for three months on both radio and television about over-the-counter hearing aids. OTC hearing aids are for adults 18 and over with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss. If your hearing loss is more significant, OTC hearing aids might not work for you. We encourage individuals to get a hearing test. We also point to resources as a starting point so that individuals can feel ready to explore their options.

CEC and EHDI Conferences

Danelle Gournaris, the Collaborative Plan Program Director, recently attended two conferences related to the field of Deaf Education. One conference was hosted by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in Louisville, KY. The second conference was the 2023 Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Conference (EHDI) in Cincinnati, OH. Other Minnesotans attended as well! We have pictures with more detail.

Picture Slideshow

Here are pictures of the recent events.


















I will send out another update next month. Please let me know if there is any information you would like me to share in a future update. You can contact me by email, Thank you!


Featuring Dr. Darlene G. Zangara, Executive Director. The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing thanks:

Jamie Schumacher for voiceover.
Keystone Interpreting Solutions for film production.

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