The Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Advisory Council submitted a report of its findings and recommendations to the legislature on January 13, 2017.
As required by the legislation passed last year, the council’s report went to the Senate and House Committees on Education, the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, the House Committee on Human Services and the Governor.
The report includes a list with the names of the twenty-one current members of the council and the representative role served by each member.
The Advisory Council’s report stated as follows:
“As its first order of business, the council crafted and adopted the following mission statement:
The mission of The Vermont Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf/Blind Advisory Council is to improve the lives of all Vermonters who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Deaf/Blind by recommending policy that promotes diversity, equality, awareness and access.
Prior to the passing of Bill S-66, four working groups, or sub-committees, were established (1) birth to 3 years of age, (2) school age (3 to 21 years of age); (3) adults, and (4) seniors.
Each sub-committee completed a gap analysis in order to identify the strengths, challenges and opportunities for children and adults who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf/Blind. The sub-committees are continuing their work and currently identifying two key areas in each age group for recommendation to the full Council.
Based on those recommendations, the council will be developing a strategic plan at the March meeting with short, mid and long term goals; it is our hope to meet with you at that time to review the strategic plan and solicit your input in order to finalize that plan.
The work over the next year will position the Council to make recommendations that will shape quality improvement initiatives and policy implementation across the state.
One of the themes across all age groups is the need for a single point of entry for services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind children and adults.
With the closing of the Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Vermont lost its most visible and available resource for the entire Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind community. Forty-one states have addressed the issue by establishing a Commission for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind.
We intend to explore the efficacy of that structure for Vermont and to report on our findings. In the interim, we will establish and communicate broadly the current available network of providers to address needs for individuals and families across the lifespan.
Our council looks forward to working collaboratively in moving the needle forward and improving services for children, adults and seniors who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf/Blind.”