Hello, I'm Heidi Reed. I'm the Commissioner with the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, also known as MCDHH. We are all aware that in Massachusetts the economic crisis is very severe. Our Governor has announced budget cutbacks. MCDHH has had a reduced budget because of this; therefore our services will also be reduced. The reduction in budget and services will impact Deaf and hard of hearing citizens in Massachusetts in the following ways: MCDHH traditionally operates an emergency after hours referral service that provides interpreters for emergency situations on overnights, weekends and holidays. When Deaf or hard of hearing individuals go to an emergency room, and require an interpreter, that service sends qualified interpreters to that hospital; however, the funding for that after hours service has been cut. MCDHH also provides funding for important community based services. These are known as Deaf and hard of hearing independent living services, also referred to as DHILS programs. Those services are vital so that individuals can walk in, staff there are fluent in sign language, and are familiar with the community and can provide services that are important to our constituents all over Massachusetts; however the funding for those services has been reduced. MCDHH also provides interpreters and CART services for our own staff members; our staff are involved in a variety of meetings, provide trainings and develop planning and support programs. Those services require interpretation and CART provision; however the funding for interpreters and CART services for our staff have been reduced. All of these have been serious budget impacts for MCDHH; however we are taking immediate action and are negotiating, hoping to reach agreement with the Massachusetts Hospital Association to make sure that the hospitals will have alternate options to obtain qualified American Sign Language interpreters during times of emergencies, specifically after hours, weekends and holidays. We are working closely with our Deaf and hard of hearing independent living service providers DEAF, Inc., Center for Living and Working and Stavros to make sure that their services will remain intact and will be able to provide services throughout the state for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. We are collaborating and are attempting to stretch our resources and coming up with innovative solutions to face this crisis. We appreciate your support, your commitment and your understanding to work with us during this time of economic crisis. We will continue to work together until Massachusetts recovers from this very difficult time and services will remain intact.
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.