Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council Convenes First Meeting

The first meeting of the Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council was held on October 19, 2015.

The meeting was co-chaired by Linda Hazard from the Vermont EDHI Program and Bill Hudson from DAIL.  Members in attendance were: Deb Charlea Baker, Missy Boothroyd, Sharon Henry, Danielle Howes Susan Kimmerly, Cindy Moran, Stuart Soboleski, Sherry Sousa, AJ Van Tassel, Spencer Weppler, Amy Williamson.  Also present at the meeting were interpreters Cory Brunner and Virginia Clark, and Patricia Thompson took meeting minutes.

After introductions, Linda Hazard and Nine East Network’s director Susan Kimmerly outlined services for deaf and hard of hearing children currently provided by the VT EDHI program and Nine East Network.  Then, the group moved to the next order of business–deciding on a name.  The title, The Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council was agreed upon.  The Council then moved on to establishing its mission.

The mission of the Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council is to improve the lives of all Vermonters who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or DeafBlind by recommending policy that promotes diversity, equality, awareness, and access.

The Council agreed to identify sub-committees that will be responsible for reviewing current services for children (birth to age 22), adult services, and elderly services.  These subgroups will each make presentations at the next meeting on November 12, 2015.

View the October 19, 2015 Meeting Minutes.

Background of the Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council: During the 2015 Vermont legislative session, deaf rights advocates, community members, and service providers pushed for more attention on the issue of access to education, services, and opportunities for deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind individuals in Vermont.  Accordingly, although legislation did not pass in both houses, the Senate Government Operations Committee recommended that the concerns of the Deaf community be addressed through a remake of the former Vermont Hearing Advisory Council.  View the Committee’s May 11, 2015 letter to the heads of the Agency of Education, Department of Health, Department of DAIL, and DCF.  Although not required by law, the Agency heads announced their intention to follow through with the Senate Committee’s recommendations in this June 1, 2015 letter.  The creation of this council followed.

Stay tuned for more updates on the work of the Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council.