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The 2022 legislative session began on Monday, January 31. MNCDHH has a robust agenda and we are excited to share it with you. This year we are leading up to three bills and supporting six bills led by others.

Telecoil Education – Lead
A solution is needed to require hearing aid providers to educate consumers on telecoils (t-coils) in hearing aids. People have the right to be informed when they purchase hearing aids. Unfortunately, most do not know telecoils exist or how to use them. Some people are even told that telecoils are outdated technology. The truth is that Bluetooth technology is technology that is best used in certain situations such as one-on-one conversations. Telecoils, in contrast, can also be used in different situations such as a large meeting or event. In a perfect world, all hearing aids would have both Bluetooth and telecoil capabilities. Hearing aid user Jeanne Kolo-Johnson compares both technologies to purchases for her kitchen.

“I’II have a microwave that’s a newer technology, but I’m not going to get rid of my stove because they do two different jobs. Bluetooth and t-coils are kind of the same thing, they do two different jobs and they’re equally important.”

The goal is to ensure that the people who buy hearing aids are given complete and accurate information during their purchase.

DeafBlind Intervener in Classrooms – Lead
Sometimes school districts are not aware that interveners provide a different service from paraprofessionals. A clear definition in education law will help. In 2019, MNCDHH successfully added intervener language that applies to anyone who is DeafBlind, including adults. However, we are still missing the definition of interveners for students who are DeafBlind in the education system. MNCDHH is working to resolve this gap. In MNCDHH’s 2021 study on services for DeafBlind children and youth in Minnesota, families reported that they

“experienced challenges with helping school based professionals to understand the critical role that interveners play in their child’s education.”

Inclusive Requirements for Commission Board Appointments – Lead
This bill will update the language in MNCDHH’s statute. The language will give the Governor’s Office more flexibility to appoint board members with lived experiences that align with the issues worked on by MNCDHH. For example, if MNCDHH needs a board member with lived experience regarding age-related hearing loss, DeafBlind access, or deaf education, etc., the language in the statute needs to give the Governor’s Office more flexibility to accommodate our needs.

Interpreter Licensure Board – Support
The bill number is HF3144. At this time, we are waiting for the Senate bill number. This is a different bill than before. The new bill includes recommendations from the Interpreter Licensure work group led by the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, which had representatives from the Minnesota Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (MRID) and a DeafBlind individual. This bill is to establish an interpreter licensure board. The licensure board will be responsible for establishing a licensing process and a grievance process. The licensure board will follow a rulemaking process. The State of Minnesota has a detailed and lengthy process for rulemaking, which includes public comments for possible rules and public hearings.

IEP Process Accommodations for Parents – Support
The bill numbers are HF1362 and SF1961. This bill will require school districts to establish a process for providing reasonable accommodations for parents to participate in developing their child’s Individualized Education Plan. The district will also be required to make sure that their process is easily understandable and inform parents of the process, in their native language if appropriate. School districts will need to respond to accommodations requests within five school days.

Due to the length exceeding character limits, the full transcript is available at http://mn.gov/deaf-commission/news/index.jsp?id=1063-518468

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