Email from Kenny Dehaan
As all director positions, having a leader in place to lead an organization is vital. There must be action soon to reinstate the director position soon for the wellbeing of the organization and to maintain the valuable services they provide for all Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people in the Commonwealth.
A letter from Frank Nemshick Jr.
603 N. Blue Ribbon Ave.
Harrisburg, PA 17112-2338
November 9, 2017
Honorable Thomas Wolf
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Bldg.
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Re: PA Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Dear Governor Wolf,
As a now retired person who has been totally deaf since the age of eight, I urge you to use your authority to see that the vacancy – since February 2017 – in the position of Director of the PA Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is filled as soon as possible.
It is my understanding that there are several applicants for the position in response to the announcement of the opening.
The Pa ODHH since 1988 has been performing vital roles in making public and private services communicatively accessible for deaf and hard of hearing persons.
Frank J. Nemshick,Jr.
cc: Ms. Elizabeth Hill, President
PA Society for the Advancement
of the Deaf, Inc.
Member at Large,
The state or wherever should hire another representative for Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing because I have called the ODHH of Lehigh Valley to advocate the person on the CDL reason and never receive the call after 2 weeks then finally respond back also we called the other representative of ODHH and didn’t respond back for the school district issue till too late and we should tell the state to concerned to rehire another person to work at ODHH and they need more people to be at ODHH.
We need the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing to continue with their services.
a letter from Pa Constituent Ronnie
November 8, 2017
It has come to my attention that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) and/or the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has not filled in a new Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) Director.
It is my understanding from the grapevines that the ODHH Director has not been filled since April 2017 and an ODHH Representative has not been filled in at least a year. I ask with courtesy and respect for the DLI and/or OVR to hire a new ODHH Director who is fluent in both American Sign Language (ASL) including extensive knowledge and understanding about Deaf Culture and English as soon as possible because we, the deaf and hard of hearing people who depend on the PA ODHH, lost our top quality First Stop and AIR services with two vacant positions.
According to the ODHH website, “The Office for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (ODHH) is an office within the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry that serves all 67 counties. ODHH is your first stop on the path to learn about anything and everything related to hearing loss, such as services, technology, sign language interpreters, or laws that require equal access for people who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing.
ODHH is ready to serve as liaison, open doors, explain procedures and make referrals. No request is too small.” (Source: http://www.dli.pa.gov/Individuals/Disability-Services/odhh/Pages/default.aspx )
Is it our first stop with two vacant positions? Without a new ODHH Director and a Representative in place, it is not serving us as a liaison very well and closed the doors on us without proper procedures and withholding appropriate referrals. That means we, the deaf and hard of hearing constituents in the State of PA, are receiving less services and suffering more without an ODHH Director and a vacant representative staff.
Again, according to the ODHH website, “ODHH currently has four offices — Allentown, Harrisburg, Johnstown and Erie, and a total of five staff members.
ODHH provides three primary services, represented by the acronym AIR.
We ADVOCATE for people with hearing loss who are not receiving proper services from government or private agencies.
We distribute INFORMATION and answer questions on issues relevant to people with hearing loss.
We REFER people to appropriate organizations. ODHH is ready to serve as liaison, open doors, explain procedures and make referrals. No request is too small.”
I ask all of us as PA constituents to flood the DLI and/or OVR including your district House of Representatives and Senators in this state with our telephone calls, telecopier calls, electronic mails, first class letters, and social media advocating and/or demanding the DLI and/or OVR to fill in the ODHH Director who is fluent in ASL with extensive knowledge of Deaf Culture and English and a Representative without internal favoritism and politics as soon as possible to restore our top quality First Stop and AIR services.
Transcript: Hi My name is Liz Hill, President of PSAD. For this month’s vlog, want to share with you a few things. First, I had the opportunity to attend the NAD’s National Leadership Training Conference (NLTC) from October 5-7 in Oklahoma City. It was a wonderful experience to meet other state association presidents – to share ideas and strategies on how to improve and grow our state associations. The workshops were really good and included information on mental health, education advocacy, VRI, microaggressions. Everyone is encouraged to attend in two years to increase your knowledge base, meet and network with people, and improve your leadership skills! The next NLTC will be, I believe, in Arkansas, so please consider attending!
Good news! The U.S. Congress recently passed the Early Hearing and Detection Intervention (EHDI) reauthorization. President Trump signed it into law. The NAD proposed several amendments to improve programs and services for deaf and hard of hearing infants and their families. Some of the amendments include: recognition of both oral and visual modalities, which includes American Sign Language (ASL), and language acquisition services and assessments as the baby grows up. Language acquisition services will include “deaf consumer support.” Most of you are probably more familiar with “deaf mentors”. The law chose to use a broad term “deaf consumer” as it seems that states have different terms for mentors and chose to encompass all. Deaf mentors are so important for families that are new with their deaf and hard of hearing infants. Deaf mentors help them visualize a future as a deaf adult, how to be successful, what it is like to be deaf, and exposure to Deaf culture. The inclusion of these amendments will hopefully improve services. We now have to be on the look-out for regulations. Regulations will determine what the language of the amendments looks like in everyday life, and how states will implement the new law. Proposed regulations will be released for the general public to provide comments and feedback. NAD had a Facebook Live discussion about the EHDI changes and explained that there is no telling when the regulations will be done. It all depends on the pace of the current administration. It is important for states to keep on the look-out and for individual concerned citizens to be ready to provide feedback. Deaf input is so important.
And finally, PSAD’s member-at-large and past President, Grace Shirk-Emmons, released a vlog last May about what was happening at our PA Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH). Grace has just released another vlog with a status update. I encourage everyone to watch her vlog. If you are concerned about ODHH, its current level of services, what its structure is like compared to what it once used to be when it was first established, if you are concerned about ODHH’s future, please contact Grace. Send her your stories and feedback via vlog or through text. Her email is included in her vlog so please contact her.
As always if you have ideas, questions, or feedback, please contact me at email@example.com
Hello! I am Grace Shirk-Emmons, member at Large with Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf (PSAD). Remember I made a vlog about Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) last May, I believe. I want to update you all. ODHH director was let go. It has been really quiet lately. OVR posted job opening for the director and it was posted just for two weeks. There were interviews and 6 were selected for second round. The second round interviews never happened. It just has been quiet. Some thinks it is because Labor of Industry secretary moved to a new job and new one came into the job. But I do not think L&I secretary would be doing the hiring. I don’t know why the delay happened. That’s alright. I still want ODHH director to be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and know and understand deaf community.
At the beginning of ODHH, they were in Office of Administrative and really had a close relationship with governor. ODHH was moved to Labor of Industry then moved down yet again to OVR which is several levels away from governor. In past, there was 5 working in ODHH, director, secretary and three representatives. One of representatives retired over a year ago and his position was never filled then director was let go. Now there is just 3. Secretary and two representatives. Each representative covers 33 counties each. A lot of traveling and work trying to cover all counties.
PSAD has been watching and monitoring this for several months now. We want Harrisburg to see that there is a real need to fill all positions in ODHH. 3 representatives, director and secretary. I feel, do deaf community out there get full services from ODHH? I really don’t know. So I would like to have your opinions, stories and experiences with what is happening with ODHH. How? Make vlog or typed text, yes we will post that on our Facebook page, PSADezine and any other publications we have. Again to make sure you are aware that those will be posted in public postings. It will not left quietly. It will be posted. Do not worry about clear English in text. We will help clean up and make it clear for you. You can ask your friends or family to help you or do it yourself. There will be help. With all postings, I hope Harrisburg will see them and realize how very vital ODHH is to the deaf, deaf/blind and hard of hearing. We want Harrisburg realize that they can’t just leave ODHH as it is now. Harrisburg need to do something about this and get moving on this. It is bad to leave ODHH like this for so long.
Send all vlogs and texts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, my name is Liz Hill, President of PSAD. For this month’s vlog, I want to take the opportunity to share with you what has been happening since my last vlog. We just had a very successful state conference last August 10-13, 2017. Conference attendance totaled 101 people! Some of you may remember when we used to have conferences every year. Now, we have conferences every two years and this was our first biennial conference. We celebrated our 135th anniversary since our founding and our 131st conference. Our next conference will be in Williamsport, PA in 2019. More information will be shared periodically on our upcoming conference.
At our recent conference in August, the members voted to give the board discretion to assess what should be the new lifetime membership rate. Remember, PSAD is unique in that we only have a one-time fee and then you are a member for life! In the past, the lifetime membership rate was $125.00. The board then decided to do a trial phase on a more “accessible” membership rate of $25.00. Since this trial is now over, members gave the board permission ot reassess the membership rate. So, the board, in consultation with our membership committee, decided that the new membership rate, from here on out, is $40.00. So if you are not a member, please sign up and pay a one-time fee of $40.00 and be a member of PSAD for life!
I am very proud to announce that this past Saturday, September 23, 2017, PSAD’s Young Adult Program (YAP) hosted a one-day conference for young deaf and hard of hearing adults. Thank you to Evy A. Williams and Domonic Gordine for all their hard work to make this happen. I also want to thank our presenters: Mr. Neil McDevitt, Mr. Todd Miller, Mr. Raymond Hawkins, Mr. Jordan Sanjaya, and Ms. Emily Claveau. I also want to thank the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) for allowing us to use their facilities. PSD’s support and collaboration is very much appreciated!
For some who may not know, the National Association of the Deaf recently sued and settled with a movie theatre – SouthSide Works Cinema – in Pittsburgh. As part of the agreement, the movie theatre agreed to provide open captions for any movie. Open captions means we can view the captions directly on the movie screen without hassling with any equipment – no heavy glasses and no fussing with equipment in our cup holders. All you have to do is email email@example.com before 10 am that day or you can email anytime the day before. This is only for a six month trial period. So if you are in the Pittsburgh area, please see an open captioned movie! Support this initiative as it is the first and only in the nation!
PSAD will host our 9th Annual Youth Day in November in Pittsburgh, PA. PSAD is actually the founder of Youth Day and our model has been replicated across the nation. Thanks to Sharon Antal, who founded this, and the Youth Day committee for their hard work. We have students from both mainstream programs and deaf schools. It is a day that allows them to interact with each other and learn more about their deaf identity.
And finally, I want to talk a bit about this year’s hurricane season. We have seen the news about hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Jose. First, I want to point out that there is an organization called Portlight. This organization focuses on “Inclusive Disaster Strategies” which means serving people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people, during emergency/disaster preparations. They have been instrumental in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Please consider donating to this organization at www.portlight.org.
Staying on the theme of hurricanes and emergency management, many of you might have seen the news about the “fake interpreter” in Manatee County, Florida. During Hurricane Irma, Manatee County was getting ready to provide a press briefing on emergency preparations. One of their staff happened to have a deaf brother and knows some sign. Manatee County officials pressured this person to be their “interpreter” for the press briefing instead of getting a certified interpreter. The person signed “pizza”, “bear”, “monster”, and fingerspelled odd things like “p-a-p-p-s.” He wore a bright yellow shirt making it hard for people to see his signs.
The lack of a certified interpreter in this situation put people’s lives at stake. The situation got national media attention and it is my hope that this serves as an opportunity for education – for us to stress why it is so important to have a certified interpreter. We are very fortunate that our PA Governor has used certified interpreters for emergency press briefings. The Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities has been very good with this as well. There still remains room for improvement. PSAD hopes to collaborate with the appropriate agencies on emergency management to ensure full inclusion of deaf and hard of hearing people in emergency management.
Thanks for watching. I know it was a long vlog with so much happening. Please follow us on facebook and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!!
Hi, my name is Liz Hill and I am a PSAD board member. This month’s vlog is about our upcoming PSAD conference on August 10-13 in the Poconos! We are excited that many have already registered for the conference. I encourage you to consider coming also! Come and see old friends. There are many exciting things to look forward to at the conference. Come see who is running for the PSAD board this year, old and new faces alike. Propose and vote on resolutions that will determine our priorities for the next two years — what PSAD should focus on for the next two years. Discuss the bylaws amendments that members should have received in the mail for their review. There are also many good workshops! Learn about parliamentary procedure, techniques for being a secretary for a Chapter, and find out more about vp technology. At the same time, take an opportunity to see the beautiful area of the Poconos.
Here is the full conference schedule: http://www.psadweb.org/conference-schedule/
Information about game night available for all: http://www.psadweb.org/psad-conference-game-night-dingo-or-poker/
So yes, lots of work will happen at the conference but there will be fun also! I hope to see you all there on August 10!
I am Grace Shirk-Emmons PSAD President. I want to let you know on what’s happening with Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Thanks to Advisory Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH, this council advises ODHH) for sharing the draft that Labor of Industry and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) had put together for the next director of ODHH. ACDHH wanted Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf (PSAD)’s opinion of the draft.
The first draft really named OVR too often to the point that it felt like OVR is taking over ODHH. It also didn’t really say anything about the person knowing deaf culture or consumer of ODHH. Next one was it said familiar about ASL. This could mean a person knowing about ASL but do not use it or is fluent in ASL.
Looking over the draft, it was not enough. It felt like with OVR’s job, the range of their work is limited. OVR’s mission is limited to providing job services and training for people with disabilities.ODHH’s mission is wide ranging from advocacy, registry for interpreters, mental health, various difficulties and needs. ODHH really serves deaf and hard of hearing from birth to grave. It felt like with OVR’s limitations, ODHH is being squeezed into OVR’s limitations. It felt like OVR is controlling ODHH.
We also sent our report letting ACDHH know that putting in deaf culture is important. Also that the part “familiar” with ASL is not acceptable. The person should be fluent in ASL according to the measurement of ASLPI 4.0 or SLPI Advanced. These two tests is really the same level of fluency. We even shared where the person could take test online. For a person to pass the test, it would qualify the person for the job. We want the person to really be fluent in ASL. Also too much references to OVR.
Sent out our opinions, then in a few days I got second draft, not from ACDHH, from someone else and the second draft was better. Less OVR wording in there. The wording “familiar” was revised to fluent in ASL. No measurement in there, would it mean a person who feels he or she is qualified because he or she knows ABC? There is no measurement required in there. Knowledge in deaf culture has been added but not strong enough. It is definitely an improvement over Draft one.
I also need to let you know that Hard of Hearing group feels hard of hearing person should have the director’s position.
Remember PSAD can’t do this alone. I feel that all deaf organizations, clubs and individuals should start writing letters to OVR David DeNotaris. He is Executive Director. Call him. He is public person and we can write and call him and tell him to hire a deaf director with ASL skills.
David DeNotaris’ email address is email@example.com
Thank you for watching me.