We are pleased to announce that the board members of the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing has voted on our legislative agenda this year. Together, advocates and MNCDHH, are working hard to address disparities in communication equity and the agenda reflects that.
1) Change state law so Metro Deaf School, a special education Charter School, can be reimbursed for providing preschool services to deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing children aged birth to three. They are able to get reimbursed for children four and older, but the way the current statute is written, they are unable to get reimbursed for younger children. Babies and toddlers need access to preschools with language-rich environments. (MNCDHH leads)
2) Support changes recommended by advisory groups to the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) to Tier I and Tier II Licensure for teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing. (PELSB leads)
3) Add a definition of interveners for deafblind children so it is clear that they are an option to parents and to districts. (MNCDHH leads)
4) Support additional funding for the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind. (MSA leads)
5) Support additional funding to explore, develop, and establish a teacher preparation program leading to licensure for teachers of the blind and visually impaired. (MNCDHH supports)
Health and Human Services
6) Renew the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Advisory Committee in the Minnesota Department of Health. (MNCDHH leads)
7) Support changes that will make it easier for qualified candidates with disabilities to get and keep state jobs. Request a study on the retention of employees with disabilities. (MNCDHH leads)
Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing
8) Support an increase in funds for the Commission for additional costs for accommodations, communication access, a Government Relations Director, and a part-time Age-Related Hearing Loss Specialist and other related costs. (MNCDHH leads)
Modernization of the Telecommunication Equipment Distribution Program
9) DHHSD is waiting for the governor’s budget to find out if DHS will lead modernization of the Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program this year. Modernizing the Telephone Equipment Distribution program will offer more helpful tools for telecommunications accessibility. The Telephone Equipment Distribution program specialists will also be able to demonstrate how these tools work, and assist people in applying for discounted phone services. The specialists will also give people information about other kinds of technology to help with everyday communication access. (DHS leads)
Hearing Aid Affordability
10) Expand the health mandate for hearing aid insurance to cover adults who over 18 years old. Currently, it only covers children from ages 0-18. (MNCDHH supports)
Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day
Our big Lobby Day event is happening on Wednesday, March 6, 2019! Registration is open. This is your chance to educate your legislators about the importance of communication equity! Lobby Day includes appointments with your state representative, training on how to speak with your legislators, a rally with awards, and a tour at the Minnesota State Capitol! You can choose which part of Lobby Day you want to attend. To register, visit mncdhh.org/lobbyday.
The 2019 legislative session has already started. We have many new members of the Legislature and it is important to help the new legislators become familiar with our community and why communication equity is important. That is why MNCDHH is scheduling special visits to members of the Senate on Tuesday and Thursdays this legislative session. This is different from Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Learn more about (and sign up to participate on a date you choose). To register, visit mncdhh.org/lobbytuesdaythursday.
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