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CSD Joins Team of Disability Groups to Propose Accessibility Public Policy to Obama Administration

In December 2008, a group of 11 organizations (including CSD) serving deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind Americans in various capacities (direct services, advocacy, education, etc.) submitted public policy to the Obama-Biden Transition Team.
The policy focus is on human and civil rights in general, but details more specifically these key areas: Civil Rights Protection and Enforcement, Education, Employment, Health Care, Housing, and Telecommunications and Information Services.
The policy outlined various avenues to improve the quality of education and related services for children who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind; increase employment opportunities through new initiatives and reasonable accommodations in the workplace; ensure effective early intervention systems (including substance abuse and mental health care); enable citizens to live safely in their homes through accessible alert systems; and provide equal access to telecommunications and information services.
“Over the past several years, mainly due to economic and other reasons, disability groups suffered from lack of attention and perhaps even a lack of understanding that America is for everyone — disabled or not disabled — as noted by President Elect Obama,” said Ben Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. “During the 1990s, under Clinton, we saw breakthroughs in legislation like the National Mental Health Coalition, the approval of video relay services, and the implementation of the Olmstead decision. We look forward to regaining that focus on disability groups under the Obama administration.”

CSD Favors Efforts to Delay Nation’s Transition to DTV

CSD announced that it supports the combined efforts of president-elect Barack Obama’s administration and Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) — incoming Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation — to delay the upcoming digital television (DTV) transition from Feb. 17 to June 12.

Such a delay would help provide analog TV consumers with additional time to avoid being left with no television signal after the cutover date. On Feb. 17 of this year, America's entire television network infrastructure is set to transition to a digitally-based broadcast signal. Unless a digital converter box is obtained and installed, over-the-air analog viewers will not be able to receive a television signal. For the past three years, broadcasters and the FCC have tried to implement public awareness campaigns to better educate television viewers about this upcoming change. With little time before the transition occurs, postponing the cutoff date, as argued by many, would be advantageous. In fact, the benefits of a delay do seem to far outweigh the disadvantages.

"A nationwide awareness campaign regarding the DTV transition is a massive undertaking and additional time will help to ensure that we do things right and to everyone’s advantage,” said Benjamin J. Soukup, CSD president and chief executive officer. “But more importantly, we want to make sure that the technical issues related to captioning are adequately addressed by the industry. Unless we can absolutely ensure that the technical captioning issues are completely resolved, those types of calls will likely persist long after the transition date occurs — whenever that will be.”

CSD of Ohio Holds Successful Open House

On Jan. 8, in Dayton, Ohio, about 20 invitees attended CSD’s open house during the afternoon before at least 100 community members came for the 4–7 p.m. session. John Skjeveland, CSD chief financial officer, represented the CSD home office and explained CSD’s and mission and its history.

Robert Cooper, CSD of Ohio advocacy coordinator, then discussed recent staff changes and updated the community on the grant contract with the Ohio Department of Mental Health, as well as the extension of the Deaf Off Drugs and Alcohol (DODA) grant.

CSD of Ohio is also busy planning for The Ohio Tour, a tour visiting 13 sites around Ohio in collaboration with the Ohio Association for the Deaf and St. Vincent Family Services, Buckeye Ranch, OSDAA, and OhioVRS. Surveys will be completed during the tour on how to revive a statewide agency that was closed down, especially to define the deaf/hard of hearing community’s role and clarifying how CSD of Ohio can expand its advocacy efforts.

Upcoming events include ASL Idol 2009 (4th annual) on March 7th and also annual Statewide Conference on May 15, with emphasis on DODA. There is also a large focus on CSDIO and how it will help with promoting accessibility for many mental health providers and facilities as well as for drugs/alcohol service providers.