Advocacy in Action May/June 2013

AG Bell ensures that the needs of children and adults who use listening and spoken language are represented as public policy is shaped through participation in national coalitions representing consumers and professionals in the hearing health and education arenas and by raising awareness of listening and spoken language with congressional representatives and their staff. AG Bell was recently represented at agenda setting meetings and public awareness events in the nation’s Capital and beyond.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Action Network

AG Bell recently participated in annual retreat of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Action Network (DHHCAN).  The DHHCAN is a national coalition of organizations representing the interests of consumers who are deaf and hard of hearing on public policy and other issues related to improving the rights of people who are deaf and hard of hearing in their quality of life, affirming their right to consumer leadership, self-representation, and equal access to education, employment, community life, communication and technology. On Feb. 9, AG Bell’s Director of Communications and Marketing Susan Boswell, CAE, and Director of Development June Martin, M.A., joined representatives of 11 other organizations at the agenda-setting retreat.
Expanded access to technology, hearing health advocacy efforts and issues of concern to seniors who are deaf and hard of hearing were the focus of presentations at a recent annual retreat. Efforts are underway to develop and implement next-generation 911 (NG=911) technology through computer or mobile applications that combine video, audio and text-based communication for greater ease of communication. Internet-based captioned telephone is another area of recent advocacy efforts in order to respond to concerned of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about how consumers are using this service. Issues of concern to individuals as they age with hearing loss include the need for seniors to access life alert systems, the cost of interpreters and other accommodations for communication access, and the need for professionals experienced in the mental health needs of individual s who are deaf and hard of hearing, particularly those who are older.

Clerc Center’s Meeting on National Priorities

AG Bell recently participated in the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center’s meeting to establish its national priorities. According to the Clerc Center’s website, its mission is “to improve the quality of education afforded to deaf and hard of hearing students from birth to age 21 throughout the United States.” On February 4th and 5th, 2013, AG Bell’s director of programs, Judy Harrison, joined over 20 other individuals from across the United States representing education, research, family services and state agencies to “develop a shared understanding of the challenges that, if addressed by the Clerc Center, will have a positive impact on the success of current and future generations of deaf and hard of hearing children”, as described in the Clerc Center’s invitation to participants. Based on that shared understanding, the Clerc Center would establish its national priorities for 2013 – 2018. Over the course of two days, the group was led by the Clerc Center’s staff to exchange ideas and ultimately reach consensus on recommendations which ultimately focused on the need for qualified professionals to serve the needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Council on Education of the Deaf

AG Bell is a founding member of the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED) and participates regularly on its board of directors. Currently, AG Bell is represented by Donald M. Goldberg, Ph.D., CCC-SLP/A, FAAA, LSLS Cert. AVT, president of the association, and Judy Harrison, M.A., director of programs, both of whom attended the recent CED board meeting held prior to the Association of College Educators – Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) annual conference. According to the CED web site, its mission is to promote excellence in educating deaf and hard of hearing students by establishing, promoting and monitoring teacher education standards embodying best practices, reflecting current research, and embracing diversity and multiculturalism. The board discussed CED’s accreditation of college and university teacher training programs, its individual teacher certification, and its updated web site that should improve accessibility to information for those interested in certification and accreditation.

Following the CED board meeting, AG Bell exhibited and attended the ACE-DHH annual conference. Attendees were presented with information about the Listening and Spoken Language Knowledge Center, AG Bell’s online Parent Advocacy Training Course, the 2013 Listening and Spoken Language Symposium, the LSLS Certification, and many other resources provided by AG Bell.  

Hearing Health Forum and Reception

AG Bell participated in the Hearing Health Forum and Reception on Capitol Hill at the Rayburn House Office Building on Feb. 28, 2013 as part of a coalition of 16 organizations that make up the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. AG Bell was joined by Rachel Dubin, a member of the AG Bell Public Affairs Council who represents adults who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Honorary co-hosts included Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa, who presented a “HearStrong Champion Certificate” to Elisa Cimento, a former AG Bell LOFT participant and an intern for the Hearing Industries Association for her outstanding dedication to hearing health issues. The forum was designed to raise awareness of hearing loss and hearing health issues among members of congress and their staff. The event featured hearing screenings by a hearing health professional, earbud noise testing with “Bud” a sound-level dummy who can help listeners determine whether they the volume is set too high for safety on a personal music player. Participants also had the opportunity to talk to hearing professionals and to learn about listening and spoken language and AG Bell resources on the Listening and Spoken Language Knowledge Center.