Presentation by Colorado Deaf-Blind Task Force
COMMITTEE ON JOINT HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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02:05 PM -- Presentation by Colorado Deaf-Blind Task Force
Heidi Zimmer, Co-chair, Colorado Deaf-Blind Task Force, Cynde Vaughn, Co-chair, Colorado Deaf-Blind Task Force, and Ruben Hernandez, member, Colorado Deaf-Blind Task Force, presented on the Colorado Deaf-Blind Task Force. The presenters introduced themselves and gave professional and personal background information.
Ms. Vaughn explained deaf-blindness and different medical conditions to the committee. Two handouts were distributed to the committee (Attachments B and C). She explained how persons with the disability interact and communicate with society. Ms. Vaughn explained the activities of the task force and noted the lack of services specifically for the deaf-blind population in Colorado. Ms. Vaughn described the membership and mission of the task force.
160121 AttachB.pdf160121 AttachC.pdf
Ms. Zimmer explained the different communication methodologies used by deaf-blind persons to the committee. She noted the wide range of needs of the deaf-blind community.
Ms. Vaughn continued by explaining that there are four areas of need in the deaf-blind community, including assisted technology, communication, orientation and mobility, and assistance for self sufficiency. She explained the role of the support services provider (SSP) to blind-deaf persons and noted that SSP access is extremely important to deaf-blind persons. Ms. Vaughn explained an example of assisted technology to the committee.
Mr. Hernandez discussed his work with the elderly disabled with the committee. He explained the challenges of working with the elderly population.
Ms. Zimmer explained the need for deaf-blind persons to receive training to navigate the community and to retain employment. She gave an example of a successful deaf-blind individual and described her experience as an advocate.
Ms. Vaughn explained to the committee that it is difficult to know how many deaf-blind persons there are in Colorado because people do not self identity as deaf-blind. She explained the task force's proposal to count the population of deaf-blind and identify the gaps in services in Colorado. She proposed adding 1.5 full-time additional employees to work with the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Ms. Vaughn explained that one new full time employee would focus on community outreach to collect data on the deaf-blind population, and the part-time employee would provide SSP services.
Ms. Vaughn confirmed that the task force was not created by statute. She noted that the unemployment rate for the deaf-blind community is very high. Ms. Zimmer discussed the number of interpreters in Colorado, their training, and the different types of sign languages with the committee.
Ms. Vaughn gave concluding remarks, and noted the health care costs that occur when deaf-blind persons do not receive services.