Please view the vlog regarding Legislative Wrap Up at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Legislative Wrap Up:
This has been a banner year for the Deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind Marylanders. The MDAD proposed amendments that were adopted by the Maryland Legislature. Those amendments are precedent setting and MDAD hopes those legislative languages will be emulated elsewhere.
HB653 – Establishment of Deaf Cultural Digital Library (DCDL)
Summary: HB653 would require the Division of Library Development and Services in the State Department of Education to establish and coordinate the Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library as the primary information center on deaf resources for library customers and staff in the State.
Status: Passed the Legislature and now awaiting Governor’s signature.
Analysis: MDAD proposed three amendments.
Require that the advisory council be majority Deaf
Defining the advisory council to ensure appropriate representation of Deaf people
Requiring that the coordinator of DCDL be Deaf or hard of hearing and knowledgeable and experienced with issues affecting Deaf people (a similar requirement exists for the ODHH Director)
Those amendments are consistent with the principles of “nothing about us without us.” All those amendments were adopted. MDAD believes that this is the second law in the nation that requires that a specific position be filled by a Deaf or hard of hearing person. (The law passed in 2001 enacting ODHH—also proposed by MDAD also has a similar requirement). MDAD hopes that such language is emulated elsewhere.
SB103 – Change of EHDI name and including ODHH in its advisory council.
Summary: SB103 was submitted by the Governor’s Office on behalf of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). This bill would change the statewide newborn screening program’s name to “Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program” and replace terms from the statute like “hearing impaired.”
Status: Passed the legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
Analysis: There was significant controversy regarding the antiquated term in the old law (“hearing impaired”) and its proposed substitute (“hearing loss.”). MDAD pushed hard for a more appropriate term that was accurate and does not stigmatize deaf and hard of hearing infants and their families. After some controversy, MDAD was able to persuade the legislative to agree to the more appropriate term “hearing status” consistent with literature distributed by the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, http://www.infanthearing.org/ehdi-ebook/2013_ebook/21Chapter20DeafCommunity2013.pdf. National EHDI experts report to MDAD that this is the first such change in EHDI laws across the country. MDAD hopes that this sets an example for other states to follow.
The success of those amendments would not have occurred without the leadership and hard work of MDAD President Charm L. Smith as well as other individuals including ODHH Director Lisa Kornberg and the EHDI Advisory Council Chair, Dr. Jennifer Reesman, a pediatric neuropsychologist and research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Special appreciation also goes to Governor O’Malley, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and members of his cabinet for their support.