The most interesting part of my week by far was a presentation and forum by youth who are deaf blind. This took place at the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services or OSERS. On Tuesday June 7th at 1:00-2:30 pm. It was organized by Louise Tripoli and the OSERS Assistant Secretary Alexa Posny.
The most interesting thing for me was how these unique deaf blind youth communicated. All used some form of assistance whether it was an interpreter signing into their hands, their listening to the speech on a radio frequency, or listening to speech relayed back to the interpreter. Two had guide dogs, but they were well-behaved and quiet during the talk!
Two of the youth wrote a policy brief representing their group called Deaf Blind Young Adults in Action. (DBYAA). They distributed hard copies to the attendees there, and promised to submit an electronic version to all interested participants.
Here is just a small summary of the Policy Brief on Support Service Providers (SSPs) for Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
“Statement of the Issue/Purpose: How can RSA further support Deaf-Blind Individuals (DBIs’) participation in the surrounding communities?
· DBIs greatly benefit from Support Service Providers (SSPs) in community participation.
· SSPs are responsible for providing sighted guide, audio-visual information, and communication facilitation because DBIs have varying degrees of dual sensory losses.
· SSPs are very much different from personal care assistants (PCAs). PCAs are responsible for handling common everyday tasks for those who cannot do independently. SSPs also do not hold the roles of sign language interpreters or caregivers.
· SSPs bring the opportunities for DBIs to become very actively involve4d in their communities, go on errands, and lead independent living with less worry.
· DBIs are lower-incidence disability with a very high need for SSPs, which is not very cost-effective. Most agencies are not able to afford to provide the optional services for the DB, leaving many of us behind in isolation.”
American Association of the Deaf-Blind
Helen Keller National Center
Seattle Deaf-Blind Service Center