In this VLOG, Illinois Association of the Deaf (IAD) President Corey Axelrod and Legislative Chair Jason Altmann share the specific reasons behind each of the proposed amendments in SB0752.
Corey: Hello! My name is Corey Axelrod, IAD President.
Jason: Hi, and I am Jason Altmann,, Legislative Chairperson. We’re here to talk about the different amendments to IDHHC Act. We will explain why we made these proposed changes.
Corey: One of the key clarifications we needed to focus on was what is the role of the commissioners. C-o-m-m-i-s-s-i-o-n-e-r-s. Those are people who are appointed by the Governor to manage and watch over IDHHC and their director. Some people are confused by who really runs the IDHHC? The commissioners or the director? In the amendment, we provide clarifying language that it is the commissioners who supervise IDHHC.
We also looked at the requirements of the commissioners. In the past, 6 of the 11 commissioners must be deaf. We increased that to 8 because this is commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing . We believe that Deaf people really understands what our needs are and value those needs. We also amended some language in the IDHHC Act to provide specifics for each commissioner. For example, must have one parent or guardian of a Deaf or Hard of Hearing minor. One must be a licensed interpreter. One educator of Deaf or Hard of Hearing, can be an administrator, too. We want one commissioner to represent Center of Independent Living (CIL) or a community-based organization that serves Deaf/Hard of Hearing people. We also want a DeafBlind representative and also one person who is late deafened. We also amended four persons at large who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Jason: Another change we proposed is related to the commissioners’ appointment. Since some senators has heard some concerns from the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community who are their constituents, the senators want to be involved in the process of the commissioners’ selections (Corey: Yes) to help the Governor appoint the most qualified and competent commissioner. So we can help IDHHC improve their performance to become a strong state leader for Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community.
The IDHHC Act was passed a long time ago. Since then, the requirements for the Director position have changed. We want to change the position requirements to include a B.A. degree, a college degree, and 5 years of management or leadership experience. (Corey: yes) Also, must be fluent in ASL and have an in depth knowledge of Deaf Culture.
Corey: The other part we noticed is to make sure that IDHHC is fully inclusive and serve the needs of the DeafBlind community. We added that language in the bill. We also we saw the need to add support for SSPs, Support Service Professionals, and make sure the DeafBlind community get the support they need.
Jason: The last amendment focuses on direct services. The original IDHHC Act mentioned “direct services” but it appears the language is not clear (Corey: right). IDHHC staff interprets that they do not provide direct services, which is their interpretation of the Act. We took the opportunity to clarify some of the language to ensure that IDHHC provides direct services because that is needed in the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community. And we want to be able to rely on that at the state level. We look forward to making changes to help IDHHC to become a thriving agency.
Corey: Again, we looked at other states to see what they can do. We looked at how we can improve our state commission. So this bill is designed to support our commission and support the vision and understand what the full value of what our commission can do. I look forward to more happenings and appreciate your continued support. Thank you.
Jason: Thank you.