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Transcript: Who's Who?

[White text on black background reads: Who’s Who: DHHSD & MNCDHH. Under the text is the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division logo. Shawn Vriezen, a white man with a brown beard, is on the right side of the screen. He is wearing glasses and a dark gray button-down shirt and blazer.]

DHHSD and the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH)

Many people think that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division and the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, Deafblind & Hard of Hearing are the same organization. 

It’s easy to understand why people get confused. Both are Minnesota organizations. Both focus on issues facing deaf, deafblind, late-deafened and hard of hearing Minnesotans, and both were created thanks to the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens and other community activists who were not satisfied with the programs, services and funding that were available to support deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing Minnesotans. 

These are separate organizations that provide different services. 


DHHSD is a state agency that was created in 1980. Our purpose is to put the Governor’s agenda into action. DHHSD must follow state regulations and Minnesota Department of Human Services policies. We also follow the budget set by DHS. 

DHHSD provides direct services to Deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing consumers, parents and family members of people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing, human service providers, and others who support adults and children who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. We do this by providing information, making referrals, using government grant funds to create a statewide network of service providers, and distributing free telephone equipment. We also provide mental health services to adults who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing and connect parents of children who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing with community mental health resources. 

Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, Deafblind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) 

The Commission was created in 1985 and is sometimes referred to as MNCDHH. 

It is an independent board appointed by the Governor. It has 15 board members and six staff members. At least 51% of the board must be deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. At least one board member must be a parent of a child who is deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing. 

The Commission does not provide direct services. It focuses on changing systems and policies. 

Board members and staff conduct one-on-one interviews with community members, focus groups and surveys to gather information on issues that are important to Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. This information is used to create a five-year strategic plan, set goals and priorities, and recommend new legislation and policy changes. Board members and staff then work with community members to advocate for policy changes at the Capitol. Voter engagement is an important strategy. 

The Commission’s current priorities are improving education outcomes, increasing employment, increasing communication access, increasing civic engagement, and getting age-related hearing loss recognized as a public health issue. 

Do you ever work together?

DHHSD and the Commission stay in close contact. We sometimes partner on specific issues. For example, DHHSD, the Commission, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety worked together to roll out the Text-to-911 program. DHHSD representatives sometimes serve on Commission task forces and work groups. In addition, eight DHHSD advisory committee members are also Commission board members. 

To learn more about DHHSD, go to the About DHHSD section of this website. 

To learn more about the Commission, visit their website at

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