RELEASE: Five Bills Filed on Behalf of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians

Jefferson City, MO (January 3, 2018) – The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) is proud to announce that there are currently five bills filed in the Missouri Legislature that are intended to benefit the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. Most recently, on January 3, 2018, Representative Mike Kelley (R, District 127) filed House Bill 1868, which aims to establish a statewide hearing aid distribution program for low-income individuals. Many Missourians with hearing loss are not able to afford these critical devices that can improve communication in the workplace and in relationships with family and friends.

Representative Lyle Rowland (R, District 155) filed House Bill 1572. This bill will make the licensing system more efficient and culturally appropriate for Deaf and Hard of Hearing drivers. Right now, the code used to identify hearing loss on a license is J88; however, many officers are not able to identify this code quickly. This bill will change the code from J88 to DHH for quicker recognition. Additionally, this legislation will remove the outdated term “hearing impaired” from the law.

Senator Jeanie Riddle (R, District 10), has filed Senate Bill 814, the Senate equivalent to House Bill 1572.

Senator Riddle also filed Senate Bill 848. The bill will restructure the Board for Certification of Interpreters (BCI) and house it within MCDHH by reducing the gubernatorial appointments from five to three. At the end of 2017, the Governor’s Task Force on Boards and Commissions recommended the BCI be merged with the State Committee of Interpreters.

Representative Travis Fitzwater (R, District 49) filed House Bill 1798 to establish an advisory committee that will oversee a statewide language assessment program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children ages 0-8. Closely monitoring language skills—in both English and American Sign Language—will provide more information for parents to make decisions about their child’s education. Without an early understanding of language skills, many of these children experience language delay or deprivation, which can have a negative long-term impact on their learning.

MCDHH works with individuals, service providers, businesses, organizations, and state agencies to improve the lives and opportunities of all Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians. 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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