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E-News (November 15, 2019)

November 15, 2019

The November 15, 2019 E-News has been posted.

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Changes to SSP Program

November 1, 2019

Dear MO SSP Program participants and service providers:   On behalf of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) and the Missouri SSP Task Force, I would like to address a major change the SSP Program has recently encountered. Beyond Interpreting has already sent details about a new transportation policy, but I wanted to give you some further background information on how this situation came to be, and details on what you can expect moving forward. Beyond Interpreting's lawyer found a significant liability issue in the way the MO SSP Program has been addressing transportation. We discovered that an individual SSP's auto insurance would not be able to cover a DeafBlind consumer if an accident were to occur. Since the SSP is paid for transportation, it is considered a commercial activity and would need to be insured as such. After meeting with representatives of a few major insurance companies, it became clear that the specialized insurance would not be in the budget for the program, nor for the SSPs to purchase on their own. Clearly, this left a difficult situation for the program. Inadequate insurance coverage is not acceptable, as our top priority must be the safety of our consumers and sustainability of the program. Requiring SSPs to obtain expensive insurance is not practical. However, leaving DeafBlind consumers without transportation would be a huge hurdle to accessing services. This is where the solution presented by Beyond Interpreting came up; having an allotted amount of funding for other transportation services (such as Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc.) provides consumers with a way to get to and from appointments, while ensuring that all parties involved are financially covered in the event of an accident. In the short amount of time this solution has been implemented, it quickly became clear that it is not an effective substitute for transportation. So, in order to fully focus efforts on solving this problem, the SSP Program will not be taking new appointments for training or SSP services for at least two weeks. Existing appointments may continue as scheduled. We recognize that this oversight may cause a lot of frustration, and apologize for not considering this issue sooner. We are thankful for your patience and feedback as we continue to evolve our requirements to grow a program that allows DeafBlind individuals to live more independent lives, while maintaining high standards of safety, efficiency, and fairness. The SSP Task Force will be meeting in the near future on a date to be determined. This meeting will primarily focus on evaluating our options for transportation. If you have feedback or ideas to improve transportation in the Missouri SSP Program, please direct them to Beyond Interpreting and/or Emily Morrison with MCDHH. Your suggestions will help guide discussion of the task force in developing new policies for the program. You can expect to receive further updates from Beyond Interpreting on this matter, and, as always, feel free to ask questions if you are unclear on the process.   Sincerely, Emily Morrison Business Operations Manager Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Emily.Morrison@mcdhh.mo.gov Voice, Direct Line: (573) 526-0232

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Accepting Applications: Missouri SSP Program & DeafBlind Scholarship Programs for Independence and Education

July 12, 2019

MCDHH is now accepting applications for the Missouri SSP Program & DeafBlind Scholarship Programs for Independence and Education through Friday, August 9, 2019. Click here for more information.  

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Governor Parson Signs Statewide Hearing Aid Distribution Program Into Law

July 11, 2019

Jefferson City, MO (July 11, 2019) - This afternoon, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 101 into law. This measure will allow the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) to begin establishing a statewide hearing aid distribution program for low-income Missourians. Senate Bill 101 was Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed by the Missouri legislature on May 14, 2019.

The law also created a dedicated Statewide Hearing Aid Distribution Fund. The corresponding program would allow individuals with hearing loss whose household income is at or below the federal poverty level to obtain hearing aids. On average, a pair of hearing aids cost $2,500 and needs to be replaced every few years.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the bill’s sponsor Senator Jeanie Riddle expressed gratitude to Governor Parson. "I am thankful for the governor’s action on Senate Bill 101. This is an important piece of legislation that has the potential to help countless Missourians who suffer from a loss of hearing. The cost of a hearing aid should never stand in the way of someone being able to live, work and raise their family."

Dr. Opeoluwa Sotonwa, Executive Director of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, shared a similar sentiment: "I thank Governor Parson for his action on this bill, as well as Senator Jeanie Riddle and Representative Ann Kelley for their leadership on this issue." Dr. Sotonwa went on to explain how he envisions the legislation will impact Missouri. "Workforce development is an important cornerstone of Governor Parson’s agenda. He is committed to making Missouri a model state for employing people with disabilities. Making hearing aids accessible to low-income Missourians is critical to keeping them employable."

The structure and scope of the statewide hearing aid distribution program will depend on how much funding MCDHH receives from legislative appropriations as well as outside funding sources. For more information about this program, contact MCDHH by calling 573-526-5205 or by email mcdhh@mcdhh.mo.gov.

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About MCDHH:

MCDHH works with individuals, service providers, businesses, organizations, and state agencies to improve the lives and opportunities of all Missourians with hearing loss. It functions as an agency of the state to advocate for public policies, regulations, and programs to improve the quality and coordination of existing services for individuals with hearing loss, and to promote new services whenever necessary. More information about MCDHH and the services it offers are available at http://mcdhh.mo.gov.

 

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Grant Deadline Extended

February 1, 2019

MCDHH has chosen to extend the deadline for DeafBlind programs grant proposals from Tuesday, February 5 to Friday, February 8, 2019. If you have further questions, please email Emily.Morrison@mcdhh.mo.gov. Read the original information on the grant here: https://mcdhh.mo.gov/new-grant-opportunity-for-deafblind-programs/

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