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Resolution 2013-13 Regarding Support Service Provider Programs for Deaf-Blind People

by National Federation of the Blind on Jun 30, 2013
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WHEREAS, deaf-blind people rely on Support Service Providers (SSP’s) to reduce reliance on family members and friends by facilitating communications and by providing environmental and situational information so that they can participate in all aspects of community life; 

 WHEREAS, the SSP’s are not responsible for providing personal care or serving as the interpreters required by law at legal and medical appointments, i.e., must serve only as facilitators, not decision makers; 

WHEREAS, it is estimated that there are 45,000 to 70,000 deaf-blind people in the U.S., a statistic that will rise because people are living longer and will experience sensory losses as part of the aging process, necessitating the need for more SSP’s;

WHEREAS, according to a 2012 survey by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, only ten states have state-wide programs to provide SSP’s, and only fourteen states and the District of Columbia have smaller, regional SSP programs, and the remaining states have no SSP programs at all;

WHEREAS, in addition to the lack of availability of SSP’s in many states, the level of service in states with some programs fluctuates because the state or region determines who are eligible for the service and how many hours they receive;

WHEREAS, since some SSP programs such as those in Louisiana, Connecticut, and Washington State, are under the jurisdiction of an office or department for the deaf, these programs frequently discriminate against deaf-blind people by requiring them to communicate by using American Sign Language, which is more visual, rather than the communication method of their choice such as oral English, English Sign Language, or tactile sign language; 

WHEREAS, since SSP’s are vital to the independence of all deaf-blind Americans, the federal government should implement a national program that will eliminate discriminatory practices and provide a higher level and greater uniformity of service:

 Now, therefore,  BE IT RESOLVED, by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention on this fifth day of July, 2013, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Congress to immediately take all necessary steps to establish a national SSP program so that deaf-blind individuals can maintain independence and become productive citizens.

NCDB : The Research Institute : Western Oregon University : 345 N. Monmouth Ave. : Monmouth, OR 97361
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