Important Dates

Recent Announcements

E-News (June 26, 2020)

June 26, 2020

This week's e-news has been posted.

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Clear Masks Now Available From MCDHH

May 29, 2020

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Missouri Legislature Passes Commercial Driver’s License Bill for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Drivers on Final Day of Session

May 15, 2020

MCDHH is proud to announce that this evening—May 15, 2020—just minutes before the close of the 2020 Legislative Session, the Missouri House of Representatives Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed House Bill 1963 by a vote of 121-31. Within this piece of legislation was the content of Senate Bill 748, which will allow Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). It was the last bill to pass through the House this session. The measure will now make its way to Governor Parson’s desk to be signed into law. 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 recent 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 provide further guidance on how to apply for a CDL waiver when the bill is signed into law by Governor Parson and more information is available from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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Missouri Legislature Passes Deaf Awareness Month Bill

May 15, 2020

MCDHH is proud to announce that shortly after noon today—May 15, 2020—the Missouri House of Representatives Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed House Bill 1682. Within this piece of legislation was the content of House Bill 1572, which establishes September as Deaf Awareness Month, and its last week as Deaf Awareness Week in the State of Missouri. The measure will now make its way to Governor Parson’s desk to be signed into law. We cannot thank Representatives Jerome Barnes and David Wood enough for their support on this legislation. Rep. Barnes has championed similar legislation for the last several years and sponsored House Bill 1572 this year; Rep. Wood took the initiative under his wing by adding it to his bill, House Bill 1682, which gave it the best chance of passage amidst today’s unique political circumstances. We look forward to celebrating with you all in September, and every September to come, as our state will now official recognize Deaf Awareness Month.

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UPDATE: SSP Program & Transportation

November 22, 2019

Dear MO SSP Program participants and service providers:   On behalf of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the SSP Program Task Force, I would like to thank you all for your patience and feedback as we have worked together with Beyond Interpreting to resolve some issues with the SSP Program over the last few weeks. This process has deepened our understanding of the value of this program; we have been contacted by numerous DeafBlind consumers and SSPs who have expressed in many ways how this program has changed their lives. While the hold on services has been frustrating for all of us, we believe that moving forward we have a much stronger program to work with.   After much discussion and research, the primary outcome is that SSPs will not be able to transport DeafBlind individuals in their personal vehicles moving forward. This decision is in place to ensure the safety of all program participants, as well as the longevity of the SSP program. I urge you to read the white paper we have developed on this issue and minutes from the task force meeting, if you would like to know more about how this decision was reached. Links to these documents are available at the bottom of this page.   Beyond Interpreting will be releasing more specific details of how this decision will impact the program in the coming days, along with some other important changes. We encourage you to review their announcements and materials thoroughly in order to make this transition as smooth as possible. As always, the staff at Beyond Interpreting and MCDHH are here to answer any questions you may have and receive your feedback and concerns with an open mind.   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   SSP Transportation White Paper: https://mcdhh.mo.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/11/transportation-white-paper.docx SSP Task Force Meeting Minutes, November 15, 2019: https://mcdhh.mo.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/11/ssp-minutes-november-15-2019.docx

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