My name is David Rosenthal. I am the Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division, with the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Today I’d like to discuss how in 2015, the State Legislature gave us funds for 2 years for the following reasons:
to help eliminate waiting lists for services,
update our resources and display equipment that the community wanted,
to conduct an analysis of how the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division is operated, and
whether deafblind services are being provided in the best and most efficient way.
We then partnered with the Commission of Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans to plan how to implement this. We formed a committee with representatives from the Commission and DHHSD staff to lead the survey and analysis. We contracted with 2 vendors to do the studies for us. One vendor studied DHHSD plus our DeafBlind services. The other vendor studied the TAM fund TED program. Both vendors did consumer surveys, town hall meetings across Minnesota, and individual face to face meetings with many people in the state. They went to Deaf clubs and organizations to get their members’ thoughts about what is needed. They talked with organizations and agencies that serve people who are deaf and collect their thoughts as well. Some surveys were gathered by email and by phone calls, including TTYs. We contacted people all over Minnesota. When the surveys were finished, we compiled a report. The studies were posted online upon completion. We encourage you to go and look.
http://www.tinyurl.com/DHHSDsurveyresults (Click on “Reports and plans.”)
We also met with service and advocacy organizations to get their input and feedback. This included organizations representing DeafBlind groups, Black Deaf groups, immigrant groups, aging groups, hard of hearing groups and get feedback from as many organizations as possible. Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens (MADC) was there. We showed them what we learned from the studies and asked them to help us prioritize our goals. We listened and collected that feedback. We (DHHSD) used that information to write a report to the legislature and asked Governor Dayton to include the recommendations and our funding request in his budget.
The Governor’s budget process is a closed process. Once we begin this process, we cannot share any information with the public until the Governor releases his budget. Then if it is in the released budget, we can share the news. The Commission developed their own bill separately. We could not work on this together due to the Governor’s closed process. The Commission sent their bill to the Legislature while we waited for the Governor to release his Budget bill. When his budget came out last February, we were happy he included our legislative proposal and funding request in it.
The two bills are similar but there are some differences between their bill and the Governor’s Budget bill. However, both address the recommendations made by community members. We are working together to get legislation passed. There is only a short time left for the legislative session.
We appreciate your support of the bills because, without them, difficult choices will have to be made to address the budget deficit.
Thank you for your support. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Email David: firstname.lastname@example.org