August 7, 2020
This week's e-news has been posted.
Read More »July 17, 2020
MCDHH is now accepting applications for the Missouri SSP Program & DeafBlind Scholarship Programs for Independence and Education through August 14, 2020. Learn more about the opportunity using either document format below:
WordRead More »July 17, 2020
Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 1682 into law July 13, 2020! This new law recognizes September as Deaf Awareness Month and the last week of September as Deaf Awareness Week in Missouri. Thanks to the Governor for signing this bill. The bill's sponsor, Representative Jerome Barnes, attended the signing ceremony today. Rep. Barnes wore a clear mask, which allows for lip-reading and other facial expressions while communicating with individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals and professionals who serve them can request these clear masks from MCDHH on our website at http://mcdhh.mo.gov/masksRead More »July 17, 2020
Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 1963 into law July 14, 2020. Within this new law is the content from Senate Bill 748, which will now allow Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL).
According to MCDHH Executive Director Dr. Opeoluwa Sotonwa, Missouri was not taking full advantage of waivers available through the U.S. Department of Transportation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians to get a CDL. A waiver can exempt a driver from the so-called “whisper test,” which requires them to discern whispered words from a certain distance away. He testified, “Missouri’s current regulations align with the federal Department of Transportation’s guidelines on the issue. However, without recognition of the waiver by Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri drivers are left out. Studies have shown that Deaf drivers are safe drivers, like their hearing counterparts; some may even have some advantage with superior concentration and increased peripheral vision” said Dr. Sotonwa.
According to reporting from CNN, a study by the American Trucking Association prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shows a serious shortage of commercial truck drivers across the U.S., estimating over 160,000 unfilled positions over the next decade. The current health crisis could make these numbers even higher.
Being at the center of much of the country’s ground shipping, with major roadways like Interstates 44 and 70 crossing the state, Missourians are in the perfect place to join the trucking industry amidst a labor shortage. The CDL waiver will open this opportunity to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians as well.
The success of this legislation is credited to Senator Bill White and Representative Travis Fitzwater for sponsoring this legislation. Senator Bill White has championed similar legislation for the last few years and sponsored Senate Bill 748 this year; Rep. Fitzwater took the initiative under his wing by adding it to his bill, House Bill 1963, which gave it the best chance of passage amidst today’s unique political circumstances.
MCDHH will work with the Missouri Department of Transportation to provide further guidance on how you can become a CDL driver in Missouri.Read More »July 6, 2020
On June 30th, 2020, Governor Mike Parson signed the state budget for Fiscal Year 2021 into law. He vetoed and restricted some funds from all state agencies due to the impact of COVID-19 on state revenues. MCDHH’s budget was impacted among the many funding cuts made. The following four areas are where MCDHH’s appropriations were changed:
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- $100,000 General Revenue restriction to the Hearing Aid Distribution Program (HADP). This means that the program is temporarily suspended until the restriction is lifted or MCDHH is able to find money from other source. During this time, MCDHH will not be accepting applications for the HADP and will not be awarding hearing aids based on existing applications.
- MCDHH’s professional services fund was reduced by $30,000. MCDHH staff capacity is now reduced from eight to seven.
- MCDHH’s equipment and expenses fund was reduced by $10,859. This means that MCDHH will have less money available for office and operational needs. MCDHH staff is working proactively to find ways to reduce spending so that this cut will not impact our services to Missourians.
- The Governor may withhold up to 3% of the appropriated funds. This 3% is withheld annually to pay for the services that the Governor’s Office provides to MCDHH and applies to other state agencies as well. This withhold was expected and will not have an impact on MCDHH.