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
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