Establishment of a State Commission for Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Again Pending Action by Gov. Hochul
The state legislature, for the second consecutive year has unanimously passed legislation to create a Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing. This follows Gov. Hochul’s veto of the bill last year, when she cited a lack of budget appropriation as the reason.
We are working to have an appropriation for a Commission included in the state’s 2024 FY budget. But – to our dismay – Gov, Hochul has begun to set up an Interagency Coordinating Council that we regard as a poor alternative, totally lacking in authority and in contrast to the agencies that exist in 39 states, with full-time staffs and budgets averaging $1.7 million.
NYS Courtroom Modernization for Hearing Accessibility
Without our Association’s involvement, the NYS Unified Court System (UCS) began a Courtroom Modernization Initiative in 2018. It is now becoming a reality, insofar as courtrooms are being equipped with IR assistive listening systems. When we became aware of this some months ago, we began to try to foster a collaboration with the Office of Court Administration and met with state officials in early June. We have reviewed and made editing suggestions for a proposed assistive listening user handbook and are seeking to test hearing with neck loops in an IR- equipped courtroom.
Other 2023-24 Agenda Items
Encouraging legislative or regulatory action to . . .
- Require insurers to pay a meaningful portion of hearing aids for all — children, adults
- Require hearing loops in facilities built or renovated with state funds.**
- Require weekly scheduling of movies with open captions to be shown in cinemas
- Comparable to laws enacted in states such as neighboring Connecticut, which since 2020
requires coverage – regardless of cost – of one hearing aid per ear within a two-year window for
adults and children, or Maine, which calls for insurers to cover the cost – up to $3,000 per ear –
every three years.
* Comparable to laws enacted in states such as neighboring Connecticut, which since 2020 requires coverage – regardless of cost – of one hearing aid per ear within a two-year window for adults and children, or Maine, which calls for insurers to cover the cost – up to $3,000 per ear – every three years.
** Comparable to NYC ordinances requiring hearing loops in construction and renovation projects receiving major City funding, and requiring movies to be shown with open captions in cinemas.
The secret of getting things done is to act! — Dante
While HLAA’s chapters are concerned with improving conditions for people with hearing loss in their communities, our State Association seeks:
- to assure access to communications consistent with the Americans With Disability Act, other federal statutes and regulations and comparable state law;
- to promote best practices and person-centered care by audiologists and other dispensers of hearing aids; and
- to foster, under state auspices, a statewide program of advocacy and education to ensure continuity of services to persons who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing and the delivery of direct services to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
This is the mission of the HLAA NYS Advocacy and Legislative Committee. All members of HLAA who live in New York State are eligible to join the Committee.
We seek volunteers able and willing to reach out to their state senators and assembly members and other state government officials and those with writing and editorial skills who can help draft white papers on key issues and sample letters. Those interested should email Committee Chair Jerry Bergman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our philosophy is that hearing loss has diminished our ability to hear but not our voices. To the extent possible, we hope to combine our efforts with advocates for the deaf and other advocates for the rights of people with disabilities.