Responses to PA ODHH Vlog

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.

Kenny Dehaan



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.
Thank you,
Lynn Stroud   




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.

(Source: )


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: )


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.”

(Source: )


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.


Warm regards,


PA Constituent






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PSAD November Vlog 2017


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

Elizabeth Hill

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ODHH Update!



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


Thank you


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