April 6, 2016 Meeting Minutes




DHHCAN Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gallaudet Alumni House

(Thanks to GUAA for their generous support of the DHHCAN meeting space.)


Meeting called to order at 12:08 PM.


Roll Call


Voting Members quorum achieved

  • Claude Stout, TDI
  • Tom Dowling, DSA
  • Zainab Alkebsi, NAD
  • Bernie Palmer, ALDA
  • Art Roehrig, AADB
  • Mary Lynn Lally, GUAA
  • Lise Hamlin, HLAA


Organizational Partners

  • Neal Tucker, RID
  • Ron Sutcliffe, CSD



Delores Scott (HSEMA)

PJ Mattiacci (FEMA)

Samuel Jones (Citizen)

Michele Mulligan (CPADO)




  • Jayne Tubergen Magneson
  • Jan Nishimura
  • Pat Richey


Approval of Minutes

  • The minutes for the February 3, 2016 meeting and the March 10, 2016 special meeting stand as read.



Special Session – Visit from Delores Scott (HSEMA) and PJ Mattiacci (FEMA)

Delores’ remarks:

  • Delores Scott, Disability and Access and Functional Needs Coordiinator, gave remarks on the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA)’s services and resources in emergency management for its residents who are deaf and hard of hearing. She recently joined in December. Before that, she worked at FEMA where she ensured that people with disabilities were fully integrated into emergency planning. Before that, she worked as an attorney for the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) in D.C.  She has lived in this area for about five years.
  • When Katrina happened. It was clear that FEMA’s response needed work.
  • Her goal is to have the right people at the table talking about emergency preparedness. Right now, deaf and hard of hearing citizens are not at the table and she needs our input.
    • For example, when the blizzard hit the area in January, she contacted Claude and PJ and learned that they must have a CDI on screen.
    • They need a backup plan for CDIs on call.
  • She feels that D.C. government has a long way to go so she is here today to establish a partnership with us. This is just the beginning of the process.
    • D.C. is very unique so they want to test “mass care.”
  • On May 18, HSEMA will have an emergency drill (train derailment) and they want deaf and hard of hearing volunteers. It will start at 8 am (arrive at 7 am) and end probably around 5. It will take place in northeast D.C.
    • She will send the event announcement to Claude to share with us.
    • If it was a real emergency, they would pay for interpreters but for the drill, they are looking for volunteer interpreters.
  • She can also help make connections for you in your home state if desired.
  • Tom mentioned that he used to be a member of CERT a while ago and was a volunteer to play a victim in a drill. He suggested that CERT training be set up in the D.C. area. Delores agreed that was a good idea and she will follow up.
  • Lise mentioned that TDI used to have a grant with the Department of Homeland Security to share information with the community. She added that although interpreters of course do want to be paid, there is a network of interpreters who are willing to volunteer in an emergency. She inquired if HSEMA has any such network. Delores responded no, but they can try to build such a network. She welcomes ideas and suggestions on where to start.
  • Lise added that RID would be a good resource for ASL interpreting but for hard of hearing citizens, there is a wide spectrum of communication needs. She suggests a communication kit for different needs.
    • Delores acknowledged that it is not one size fits all and will look into that.
  • Michele explained to Delores that she is a deaf person with an additional disability. She recommends that Delores contact other organizations such as CPADO in order to make sure everyone is at the table and part of the drill too.
    • Delores acknowledged that they already have volunteers in wheelchairs but not any who are also deaf or hard of hearing. Michele volunteered to participate and Delores was grateful.
  • Art inquired whether HSEMA conducts outreach to the blind community.
    • Delores replied in the affirmative and explained further that they conduct outreach to the mental health community, including those with cognitive impairments, as well.
    • She believes it is important to have diversity in the emergency preparedness process. She hopes to have a broad range of people with disabilities represented.
    • She does not want to plan FOR them but WITH them.
    • Delores promised to reach out to Art to make sure deafblind citizens are represented and suggested that he could participate.
  • Claude explained that there is a document that DHHCAN developed. When 9/11 occurred, we collected input from 3,000 consumers and developed a white paper (a emergency communications report).
    • He is happy to share that with Delores to guide HSEMA and to share it with the rest of us as well.
  • Claude further explained that text crawls are not the answer and instead, we need full captions and interpreters standing by the speaker. Hearing people get the emergency info instantaneously while we are left in the dark.  All we want is to be able to be independent and receive the same information that hearing people are getting.
  • Claude also explained about the needs of deafblind citizens in an emergency. Suppose Art needed help getting out of his house. How can first-responders communicate with him if tactile interpreters are not there? They can mark an “X” on his back, which is the universal deafblind sign for an emergency. First-responders need to be trained on what do do. It’s the little things that help.
  • Delores would love to get the report Claude referenced so that they do not reinvent the wheel. She agrees they should conduct training.
  • Neal added that in the event of the scenario Claude described, an SSP should be with the deafblind citizen. Delores asked if training is needed for an SSP. Neal explained that RID has no standards for SSPs; they are found within the community. Delores will look into it.


PJ’s remarks:

  • He explained that he has been working at FEMA Region 3 as their Disability Integration Specialist for about a year and a half. He oversees five states: PA, DE, MD, VA, and WV (as well as D.C.).
  • He works with each state and their emergency management agencies as well as with people with disabilities in the community.
  • In the case of D.C., there was no person that specifically reached out to the disability communication. So they set up a new position and he is happy to have Delores on board. They have direct contact now and can share information from the deaf and hard of hearing community.
  • He noted that Red Cross is very behind; for example, he saw a Red Cross presenter suggest using student interpreters to save money and was shocked.  He pointed out to the presenter that if you were having heart trouble, would you want a student surgeon? No.
    • Tomorrow, he will meet with Hershey, PA’s Red Cross point-of-contact and will share information with him.
  • His first project with Delores was making sure that the interpreter is visible on screen in emergency press conferences. He noted that Kelby Brick wrote a powerful letter to television stations explaining why it is necessary. PJ asked to use the letter and share with other local television stations.
  • Neal noted that RID is tracking a bill in CA (AB2311) for emergency disaster interpreting. This bill would require interpreters who are willing to interpret during a disaster to obtain special certifications.
  • PJ explained that FEMA has a list of interpreters. Once the President is asked for an official declaration and makes one, FEMA gets involved and can match interpreters from their list.
  • PJ is happy to share his contact information with us.


Officers’ Reports:


Chair’s Report (Claude)

  • Claude informed everyone about the upcoming April 18 meeting with the FCC on VRS issues. The agenda for that meeting is as follows:
    • Asking for an update on ACE, via the contract with VTCSecure, and proposed new features re: ACEConnect.
    • Asking for a summary of the work to date with MITRE, its Council of Experts, and the outreach program (there is no public record of this).
    • Asking for an update on the TRS user registration database, and whether the FCC will produce a video to educate consumers about their responsibility to be fully registered to use VRS
    • Asking for an update on whom within the FCC that has direct responsibility now to manage the national TRS program. Is it now CGB’s?  What current role does OMD have with this program?

Vice Chair’s Report (Bernie)

  • Nothing to report.

Secretary’s Report (Zainab)

  • Minutes stand as read. No edits suggested.

Treasurer’s Report (Tom)

  • Current Balance in BB&T Checking Account (4/6/16): $24,943.04


Committee Reports


Technology/ Relay Services (Zainab)

  • On April 6, the DOT released a notice that they will proceed with the negotiated rulemaking on the accessibility of in-flight entertainment (captions).
    • They are currently soliciting self-nominations for the Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS) Advisory Committee. We will keep you posted.
  • The Consumer Groups filed reply comments on the WEA issue with the FCC.
    • The most challenging point is the carriers’ position that embedding URLs will cause congestion in the network, possibly blocking communications.
    • We still urged the FCC to embed URLs given the potential value to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
    • We pointed out that announcements in ASL will not necessarily be viewed by all recipients of the message, just those that it is relevant to. Plus, there have been technological advances in the last five years.
  • The Consumer Groups filed with the FCC four responses to petitions for closed captioning exemptions. We opposed two but did not oppose two on a limited basis.
  • The Consumer Groups filed with the FCC reply comments on user interfaces, disagreeing with the narrow interpretation of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act (TDCA) offered in comments by industry.
    • TDCA gives broad authority to ensure the availability and accessibility of captions, including readily accessible user display settings.
    • We also pointed out that industry is not making progress to address the need for readily accessible settings. We again stressed that it will only require simple modifications.
  • The Consumer Groups also filed a letter with the FCC in regards to the Lifeline (proposed at the time) Order (since then voted on and passed). 
    • The letter expressed concerns about one aspect of the proposed Order in that it requires unlimited minutes for mobile voice service while it phases in minimum standards for mobile broadband service, starting at 500 MB a month of 3G data, which is not functional equivalency.
    • RERC’s research shows that 500 MB would only get deaf and hard of hearing consumers about one hour’s worth of VRS calling. Contrast this with hearing consumers being able to use unlimited voice minutes.
    • With this, many deaf and hard of hearing consumers would be stuck with unlimited voice minutes that they cannot use while having to endure a very limited amount of data.
    • The vote happened a week after we filed the issue. We knew we would not sway them but we still needed to go on the record on this issue, urging them to require Lifeline providers to offer an equivalent plan for deaf and hard of hearing consumers that would enable them to use videophone calls to the same extent as hearing Lifeline consumers use voice minutes.
  • The Consumer Groups also filed comments with the Department of Labor (DOL) in regards to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
    • Our comments highlight technology access needs (captioned videos and providing notices of obligations in ASL), clarify the terminology “qualified interpreters,” caution against inappropriate use of and over-reliance on VRI services, encourage replacing TTYs with videophones and captioned telephones, and urge the implementation of regulations that encourage all entities covered under the WIOA to provide a centralized funding system for reasonable accommodations for employment.
  • NAD, TDI, and Gallaudet TAP collaborated on a survey to learn about the experiences of people who are deaf and hard of hearing in their use of Video Relay Service (VRS).
    • Our goal is to use the responses you provide to this survey to help inform the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about the use of VRS among people who are deaf and hard of hearing. The survey closes Friday, April 9 (a few days after the meeting) so we encourage people to fill it out before then.
  • HLAA, NAD, and TDI also filed reply comments on Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) phones in response to Apple.
    • Apple has made a hearing aid that connects directly to the phone via their own proprietary Bluetooth-like system. You have to purchase a very expensive hearing aid and an Apple iPhone to use it.
    • They are saying that this is a fine way to make phones HAC and the FCC should look to that for the HAC standard.
    • The Apple system works because it bypasses interference issues – the phone is far away from the hearing aid so the phone cannot cause interference. Although they are right, it is easier than adhering to HAC standards, they do not put a telecoil in the hearing aid so the hearing aid is effectively an Apple product that only the rich can have access to.
    • What we are saying is that we need an universal solution also. If Apple wants to use their own proprietary system, that’s fine but they must also provide a universal solution so that people are not stuck.



  • No report (Alfred Sonnenstrahl was absent).


Hearing Health

  • The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology just issued a report on hearing aids being cost-prohibitive. The report finds that hearing aids are simply too expensive and pushes the FDA on the issue. This is the first time the FDA has admitted that they need to look into that issue. We need to put pressure to make hearing aids affordable.



  • No report (Barbara Raimondo was absent).


Old Business

  • None.


New Business

  • Mary Lynn brought up the recent developments with AGBell. She suggests inviting AGBell to meetings so that we can “open their eyes.”
    • Art asked if there is something DHHCAN can do in response to AGBell. Claude responded that it’s everyone’s call but perhaps a letter.
    • Bernie stated that he thinks we need a strong letter.
    • Tom explained that he’s received membership dues from AGBell but they do not attend meetings.
    • Mary Lynn feels that it is all about respecting diversity.
    • Lise asked what happened so Zainab gave an explanation of (with a timeline of) recent events. Zainab explained about the NAD letter in response to AGBell’s letter and also explained that RID has a summary page with all response letters.
    • Claude clarified that any draft letter will be for all to review, not just him as Chair.
    • Lise said that we should all respect each other but we should not order an organization what to do. We should respect their organization too. We should not kick an organization out. She recommends being careful with the letter.
    • Art feels it is worth doing research to see if AGBell has broken DHHCAN bylaws and then discussing next steps.
    • Claude clarified that it is one thing to express our displeasure with them and another to remove them from DHHCAN. He suggests holding off on the latter but we can explore the possibility of the former.
    • Neal stated that there are two good papers on bilingualism in Gallaudet resources but not sure if we can access them. Maybe Bernie (who had stepped out at the moment) can do so? It might be useful for DHHCAN’s letter.
    • Claude pointed out that a letter from the coalition would be even more powerful than the other letters because we are a group of organizations coming together on the issue. Timing is critical as well.
    • Mary Lynn made a motion to draft a letter expressing our concerns to AGBell. Art seconded the motion.
    • A vote was taken and it was resolved to draft a letter. None opposed. Claude will circulate a draft to everyone and he wants input from everyone.



  • None.


Next Meeting Date

  • Wednesday, May 4 at Gallaudet Alumni House.


The Chair adjourned the meeting at 2:02 pm.


Submitted by

Zainab Alkebsi, Secretary