Funding for DeafBlind Support Services

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Governor Nixon Signs HB 1696 for DeafBlind Support Services

Jefferson City, MO (June 14, 2016) – This afternoon, Missouri Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon signed House Bill 1696, known as the SSP Bill. The passage of this law will initiate training and compensation for support service providers (SSPs) for individuals who are DeafBlind. The bill was Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed on May 12.

Now that HB 1696 has been signed, this law will allow the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) to receive funding via appropriations in order to create new programs to train and provide support services to DeafBlind individuals. The nature of the support services an SSP may provide varies widely based on the individual’s needs. Common tasks that require an SSP may include traveling to and from work, navigating a grocery store, describing signage, or relaying information from written documents.

The structure and scope of this program will depend on how much funding MCDHH receives annually via appropriations. MCDHH also intends to apply for additional grants.

Missouri does not currently have a formal, statewide system for training or certifying SSPs. Many DeafBlind individuals typically rely on family members and friends to take care of these needs, which is often a barrier to their independence.

MCDHH Executive Director Opeoluwa Sotonwa thanked Governor Nixon for signing the bill.

“Incorporating support services into the work of the Commission is truly a huge step,” Sotonwa said. “Not only does this day mark a major opportunity for DeafBlind Missourians, but an opportunity for the rest of us to access the fresh perspectives of people we may not otherwise have the chance to experience.”

The term DeafBlind is used to identify a person who has any combination of hearing loss and vision loss; an individual does not have to be completely Deaf and completely blind to identify as DeafBlind.

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 is available at http://mcdhh.mo.gov.

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