911 Accessibility - How will the transformation of the 911 emergency system affect the deaf?
When a person dials “911” on their home phone number, their call is sent to a special set of operators. Those operators have direct access to police and fire agencies so they can respond quickly. The system is paid for by special taxes on “wired” phone lines. The 911 system is currently struggling for funding and in need of a technology upgrade. Today, over 60% of calls made to 911 are made from cell phones, which do not pay any 911 tax.
Before cell phones, dispatchers could learn about the location of the call based on information held by the phone companies, such as account information and caller ID. Most areas of rural Missouri do not have the technology yet for law enforcement to determine the location of a cell phone call or to receive text messages on the 911 system. Instead, callers have to give information to law enforcement verbally or using a VRS operator, which takes extra time, and may not even be possible in an emergency situation. In order to fund an “enhanced” 911 service for cell phones, new legislation is needed and maybe new taxes.
Federal and State law requires that 911 services must provide equal access to the hard of hearing and the disabled. We want to make sure that the new legislation includes funding for an internet protocol (IP) based system in the future, which could include location information as well as enabling the deaf to use their cell phones to make 911 calls directly using video and text messaging. Only a few states currently have this technology in place, so it will likely take a while to have it implemented in Missouri.
Legislative Meet and Greet
Legislative Meet and Greet - Get involved in the political process by meeting your legislators and learning how to be politically active
A collaborative effort between Paraquad, DEAF Inc. and GSLAD is underway to give a voice to the deaf community. The Legislative Meet and Greet event is designed to give you an opportunity to meet your legislators and to educate them about deaf issues, while learning about the legislative process. The first event was held at GSLAD on October 11, 2011, and was a great success. The meeting was attending by 11 legislators and more than 50 members of the deaf and hard of hearing community. All of these participants met around tables to discuss their concerns and propose possible legislative solutions. Many people, including legislators, presented their views on the main stage.
We anticipate holding another event like this in January 2012. If you have any suggestions or comments about this event, please contact us.
MoAD vs. MoDMH
Missouri Association of the Deaf vs. Missouri Department of Mental Health
Mental health is very important, yet is often overlooked. The deaf are often misunderstood or are unable to receive help with their inner conflicts because of communication access issues.
In April of 2010, The Missouri Association for the Deaf, together with 13 deaf individuals between the ages of 8 and 44, took action to remedy this problem by filing a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Mental Health (MDMH), claiming that the MDMH had failed to provide interpreters and counselors for at least 15 deaf people. The Complaint is 47 Pages long, and contains details about each of the issues raised. A copy of the Complaint can be downloaded here.
The lawsuit claims that the MDMH failed to provide enough “deaf treatment qualified mental health professionals”, qualified interpreters, and case managers and other staff who are familiar with deaf culture. The complaint alleges that the failure to provide these services has resulted in questionable diagnoses, and in policies promoting the prescribing of medication to patients without meeting with them first or obtaining informed consent. Also, the Complaint says the MDMH failed to place deaf persons in community-based treatment programs and failed to have anyone making sure that MHMH was complying with the related ADA laws.
The lawsuit is filed in Federal District Court in the Western District of Missouri. The court has ordered the parties to pursue mediation, but the parties are attempting to resolve the case on their own prior to mediation. On October 19, 2011, the judge issued an Order requiring a status report from the parties by December 8, 2011. In this order, the Court said that both sides had met on at least four occasions to settle the case. MOAD and MDMH have told the court that they were not sure they would have a comprehensive settlement, but they thought it was more likely than not.
MoAD President, Ella Eakins, speaks to the public about the case.
Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
It is an exciting time for the deaf in Missouri. The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) has a new Executive Director, Ernest E. Garrett III. Mr. Garrett s a deaf professional and holds a Masters Degree in Social Work, a Master's Degree in Administration, and is currently working on his PhD. Mr. Garrett knows first-hand the issues facing the deaf and hard of hearing communities. He brings new energy and ideas to the MCDHH and we are excited to work with him and the other MCDHH staff.
The MCDHH will be holding Town Hall Meetings each month for the next three months. These meetings are designed to request input from the deaf community, and are focussed on "opportunities for creating and sustaining positive social change" within the Missouri Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. We encourage all of you to cooperate as fully as possible with the MCDHH. If we all work together as a team, we can bring awareness of deaf issues to the mainstream society. Here is a link to their website where you can make suggestions and obtain more information about this valuable organization: MCDHH Website
Board appointments needed:
Under state law, the staff of the MCDHH answers to a Board of Commissioners. There are currently four Commissioner vacancies. Persons interested in a seat on the Commission should consider applying for an appointment. If you would like to be part of the progress for the deaf, please consider applying to be appointed for the board. An application can be downloaded: here.
Or you can find a copy on the on the MCDHH website here. If you know of anyone else who will be a good candidate, please encourage them to apply.
We encourage all of you to cooperate as fully as possible with the MCDHH. If we all work together as a team, we can bring awareness of deaf issues to the mainstream society. Here is a link to their website where you can make suggestions and obtain more information about this valuable organization:
Ernest E. Garrett III
Office Address and Hours
Deaf Support Contact Information
Deaf Support .................................. (314) 714-6402
Fax ................................................. (314) 266-7427
Contact Online Securely ........................ Click Here
25 East Frisco Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
All times are in Central Standard Time (CST)