DHHCAN Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Gallaudet Alumni House
(Thanks to GUAA for their generous support of the DHHCAN meeting space.)
Meeting called to order at 12:22 PM.
Voting Members – quorum achieved
- Claude Stout, TDI
- Tayler Mayer, TDI
- Zainab Alkebsi, NAD
- Bernie Palmer, ALDA
- Al Sonnenstrahl, DSA
- Marcia Zisman, GUAA
- David Bahar, CSD
- Jacob Salem, CSD
- Sean Maiwald, CSD
- Neal Tucker, RID
- Barbara Raimondo, CEASD
Martin Valle, Student Interpreter
Evon Black, new President of NBDA (Note: Zainab will send her the last three meeting minutes so that she can get an idea of DHHCAN and consider possibly joining us.)
- Jayne Tubergen Magneson
- Jan Nishimura
Approval of Minutes
- The minutes for the September 2017 meeting stands as read.
- Claude informed the group that DHHCAN is now 25 years old! It was founded in 1992. We should celebrate this.
- Claude proposed that we invite Taylor Hahn, Claire Viall, and Megan Perez from the Hill to our December meeting to discuss how to move forward with the cradle-to-grave document. The reason why it will be the December meeting is because the November meeting will be devoted to the Open Letter discussion (see below).
- Sonny asked which offices these three folks are from. David and Zainab explained that Taylor Hahn is from Rep. Yoder (R)’s office, Claire Viall is from Rep. Takano (D)’s office, and Megan Perez is from Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R)’s office.
- There were no objections to this proposal.
- Barbara asked if Taylor Kuhn has responded to Claude and he responded in the negative.
- Claude asked Zainab if she’s seen anything coming out from the Congressional Deaf Caucus. Zainab said no, it’s been quiet with everything else going on the Hill.
- David added that there is a new Disability Employment Policy workgroup led by Rep. McMorris Rodgers. It started just last week. Interestingly enough, the two co-chairs of the Congressional Deaf Caucus are not involved. David will share information with the group.
- Claude explained that he has sent email invitations to NAD, CSD, and RID regarding discussing the Open Letter and Response at the November meeting.
- Elections will take place this December for new DHHCAN officers. At the November meeting, members will nominate other members for the officer positions. So please start thinking of who to nominate. The new officers will start in January.
- Claude added that Linda Mastandrea has taken over Marcie Roth’s position at FEMA; we wish her luck.
- David added that the Emergency Communications Committee of the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) is concerned since deaf and hard of hearing folks in Puerto Rico, affected by Hurricane Maria, are having difficulties communicating with FEMA. Gay Jones of FEMA says there are four ASL interpreters on the ground to reach out to them. There are also helicopters going around the island collecting handwritten notes from deaf and hard of hearing folks to bring back to FEMA regarding their needs. If you know of resources that can be utilized in Puerto Rico, David will be happy to pass that along.
Vice Chair’s Report (Bernie)
- Bernie expressed his gratitude to Claude for coming back; he is no longer in the hot seat from running the meeting last month.
- Bernie added that he attended a meeting with Claude, Zainab, and others regarding a possible consortium on FCC TRS research and development.
- Claude added that the goal of the consortium is to improve the quality of TRS. It would mean less money going to the wrong folks. The FCC keeps cutting rates, mismanaging R&D issues, and policing providers. The consortium would be made up of researchers (Gallaudet and NTID), consumer groups, and so forth. The goal is to get the consortium up and running next year (2018) but we are looking at structure right now.
- Zainab added that consumers would have a seat at the table and a say in the process.
Secretary’s Report (Zainab)
- The minutes have been approved.
- Zainab will continue to post all approved 2017 meeting minutes thus far to the DHHCAN website.
- Zainab also reminded Claude to copy/paste the minutes into the body of the email for Art’s benefit when he circulates the minutes to the group. Claude agreed and noted that it is great news that Art was invited to Mississippi to serve as a keynote speaker during the Southeastern Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID) conference.
Treasurer’s Report (Sonny)
- The current balance as of August 31, 2017 is $21,131.82.
- Sonny has yet to send out renewal membership notices but will do so shortly. Please keep in mind that he will be out of the country for one month so everything will be on hold until he returns.
- Civil Rights Protection and Enforcement (Zainab Alkebsi):
- As an update on H.R. 620, on which we have reported at previous meetings and would create significant obstacles to enforcing our rights under the ADA, the NAD continues to send letters of opposition. In early September, at the hearing we mentioned at the last meeting, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee 15-9. We are now awaiting the full floor vote. Please continue contacting your legislators!
- Education (Barbara Raimondo):
- CEASD, ASDC, and NAD sent comments to the Department of Education regarding which regulations to keep, cautioning them to be careful and encouraging them to look at inclusion statements.
- The EHDI bill passed the House (it had already passed the Senate) and is on the President’s desk to sign. The bill includes important amendments such as requirements for language acquisition assessments, requirements for families to receive services in both oral and visual modalities, and requirements for the provision of Deaf mentors to families.
- We continue our efforts regarding the Cogswell-Macy Act. There will be social media events next month. We were on the Hill last week for that, still looking for Republican sponsors. We are planning our Hill Days to take place February 27 and 28. On February 27, there will be a tour of Gallaudet in the morning then a presentation to Gallaudet faculty and students. On February 28, our regular Hill day will take place with a briefing in the morning then Congressional meetings in the afternoon.
- Claude added that DHHCAN would be proud to support interpreting services again for the Hill Day on the 28th.
- David asked about Betsy DeVos’ remarks in Denver (regarding parents’ choice where to send their children to school) and whether the Education workgroup plans to send a letter regarding this. Barbara responded that they might reference it in a letter. Not all schools can serve all students. Jacob added that her nephew is deaf and how ironic. Barbara commented in surprise that she was not aware of this and will follow up.
- Employment (David Bahar):
- Congress is in recess so there is not much going on right now. We are now focusing on building relationships, especially with the Tribal community. The last time the Small Business Act was amended, it was expanded to include Tribal-owned businesses – they do not want to lose these services. We continue our efforts to add disability-owned businesses as minority-owned businesses. Thanks to Claude, David was introduced to Dawn Nena Muth at the TDI Conference. David also connected with Deaf folks who either own small businesses or work in the small business field, such as David M. in Baltimore, Jason Shaw who owns a solar energy business in Denver, and Keith Doane.
- We want a variety of groups in the disability category and are conducting outreach for support. It has been a great start so far. We plan to meet with Megan, Taylor, and Claire in the next few weeks.
- Housing (Sonny):
- We are collecting data regarding deaf and hard of hearing senior citizens in different housing and researching ADA programs in nursing homes.
- Telecommunications (Claude):
- Claude explained that Consumer Groups filed many comments over the summer break so he will highlight only a few today.
- On July 24, Consumer Groups submitted a joint filing, drafted by Zainab, regarding VRS call confidentiality. Recently, many video interpreters filed comments with the FCC, asking to not be required to handle relay calls appearing to involve illegal activity and should be permitted the ability to terminate any such suspect calls. Our joint filing emphasized that deaf and hard of hearing callers should not have a lower expectation of privacy than hearing callers. This would be a dangerous slippery slope.
- On July 5, Gallaudet TAP, NAD, and TDI jointly filed the results of their VRS survey.
- On July 17, Consumer Groups filed joint comments regarding net neutrality, drafted by Blake, urging the Commission to maintain the transparency rule to ensure that consumers with disabilities can better understand how BIAS provider plans, terms, and practices will affect their ability to use the applications and services of their choice; maintain the no-blocking rule to ensure that consumers with disabilities are not discriminated against in their ability to use applications that consume significant bandwidth; and maintain the no-throttling, no-paid-prioritization, and general conduct rule to maintain a healthy ecosystem for the development of accessible applications.
- On August 17, Consumer Groups filed joint comments in response to the Sorenson Petition for partial reconsideration, or in the alternative, suspension of the deadline for implementation of the Relay User Equipment (“RUE”) Profile technical standard. Our comments pointed out that too much progress has been made toward interoperability goals to turn back now toward the status quo ante of proprietary solutions from VRS providers in the absence of the RUE Profile and ACE App. Consumer Groups strongly believe the RUE Profile and ACE App hold the key to unlocking an accelerated pace of innovation that will address the diverse needs of our community.
- On August 24, Consumer Groups (with the NAD abstaining given representation on the Board) sent a letter to the Access Board, urging it to take action to prevent the removal of the existing TTY requirements while continuing to evolve its regulations with regards to RTT.
- On September 1, Consumer Groups sent a joint letter and documentation to the US Government Accountability Office regarding implementation issues with NG911.
- Sonny commented, regarding the floods in Houston, their 911 system is antiquated. They usually get an average of about 6,000 calls but during the floods, they received 60,000 calls so many calls were disconnected. They could not handle the volume of calls. NG911 would have prevented this situation. Congress set aside funds for relief for Houston; could that include money for NG911 to speed up implementation?
- David responded he does not see why not. The City of Houston does not get that pile though; it goes to the Council of Governors but the idea could be proposed. There are also grants for integrating 911 systems.
- Sonny clarified that he is not thinking of Houston only. David responded that it is a different story for nationwide efforts, which is tougher versus money going to a particular city in need at the moment.
- Claude added that cities should follow the relay services call center model. If one cannot handle, it could be routed to other centers. David cited the two (and only two) DeafBlind centers in Florida who were impacted by Hurricane Irma though.
- Transportation (Zainab):
- Our next meeting for the Cabin Announcements Task Force will be on October 5 and we will continue to keep everyone posted regarding our efforts.
- We are also advocating for visual announcements in other modes of transportation, not just on flights. This includes visual announcements on train platforms, inside trains, on buses, and at bus stations.
- Sonny commented that Japan is ahead of us; it has had visual alerting for 26 years. We are behind.
- Evon expressed concerns about visual alerts not being DeafBlind friendly. Zainab clarified that we are also working on, in addition to visual announcements on LED screens, sending announcements to passengers’ phones, which would benefit DeafBlind passengers as it would be accessible via whichever accessibility means they use for receiving messages on their phones. It also would benefit anyone who might have missed the announcement on the communal screen. This is important for redundancy.
- Evon added that we need backup if the screen does not work. Zainab responded that yes, which is why we are pushing on redundancy for both communal screens and passenger phones.
- Jacob asked about metro announcements. There is no WiFi on the metro so how would that work for announcements being sent to passenger phones? Zainab explained that Metro is working on adding WiFi to all stations. Jacob added that Bluetooth is a possibility. But both David and Zainab pointed out that that depends on passengers having Bluetooth turned on and on local connections between the sender and the receivers.
- David commented that there is usually limited information on LED screens, much less that what is in the audio announcements. Zainab explained that it is likely because it is based on a pre-recorded library of standard situations without details added. That is why we are working on the accessibility of ad hoc announcements made right then and there.
- Claude added that the group should explore the possibility of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) for in-flight announcements. Zainab clarified ASR is one of the options the task force is looking at but they need to do a live demo in the air to test how it would fare in real conditions given cabin noise.
There were no reports for Health Care due to absent chairs.
- The group discussed how to move forward with planning a 25th anniversary celebration. We need a planning committee. We can put this as a topic on the next meeting agenda. Marcia pointed out that we should include prior members, such as Roz Rosen. Zainab pointed out that winter would not be ideal for the event, given the risk of inclement weather. The group agreed that we should consider dates in the spring to be safe.
Next Meeting Date
- Wednesday, November 1 at Gallaudet Alumni House.
The Chair adjourned the meeting at 1:59 pm with thanks to Neal for coordinating lunch.
Zainab Alkebsi, Secretary