DHHCAN Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Gallaudet Alumni House
(Thanks to GUAA for their generous support of the DHHCAN meeting space.)
Meeting called to order at 1:27 PM.
Voting Members – quorum achieved
- Zainab Alkebsi, NAD
- Howard Rosenblum, NAD
- Tayler Mayer, TDI
- Bernie Palmer, ALDA
- Ron Sutcliffe, DSA
- Art Roehrig, AADB
- Lise Hamlin, HLAA
- Marcia Zisman, GUAA
- Neal Tucker, RID
- Khianti Thomas, RID
- Barbara Raimondo, CEASD
Lena Kettering and Simon Eroku, interns at NAD
- Jayne Tubergen Magneson
- Jan Nishimura
- Pat Richey
Note: Claude, the Chair, was absent so Bernie ran the meeting as Vice Chair.
Approval of Minutes
- The minutes for the June 2017 meeting stands as read (motion by Tayler, seconded by Neal, unanimous ayes).
- None as Claude was absent.
Vice Chair’s Report (Bernie)
- Nothing to report.
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.
Treasurer’s Report (Zainab on behalf of Sonny)
- The current balance as of August 31, 2017 is $21,572.31.
- Sonny will be sending out renewal membership notices once he returns from Denver next week.
- 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 sent letters of opposition to the 9 Democratic co-sponsors. One of them agreed to remove his name as co-sponsor. Another similar bill, H.R. 3571, was recently introduced and is even worse in that it covers all of Title III. The NAD also sent a letter of opposition to the Democratic sponsor who introduced the bill.
- There will be a markup hearing for H.R. 620 at 10 a.m. tomorrow in 2141 Rayburn and the NAD plans to send a representative to show we continue to oppose this bill and encourages everyone to attend if they can to show opposition.
- Education (Barbara Raimondo):
- We were very active in objecting to the ACA repeal given the Medicare/Medicaid impact. We are quite relieved that the bill died and it took so much energy to kill that bill.
- We met with Kim Richey, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. It seemed to be a positive meeting and time will tell. We invited her to CEASD’s conference in the spring.
- Health Care (Lise Hamlin):
- We worked hard to pass the over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid bill and are pleased to report it passed. FDA will have three years to draft regulations and we will work with FDA on what it will look like.
- Most state laws require you to purchase hearing aids from an audiologist or a licensed vendor and the cost of the appointment could be more than the device itself.
- In Europe, they sell hearing aids through the government so they are much cheaper there. Here, they are so expensive.
- Also, in response to a buyer’s beware comment from Bernie, Lise explained that they will need to caution customers to be careful what they buy.
- Transportation (Zainab reported on behalf of Lise Hamlin):
- Lise commented that perhaps we should have Zainab report on Transportation from now on.
- The Cabin Announcements Task Force was supposed to have its next meeting tomorrow on the 7th but the chair canceled the meeting due to unexpected travel. We are working on rescheduling the meeting and will keep you posted.
There were no reports for Housing, Employment, and Telecommunications due to absent chairs.
Special Topic: Status of Interpreting Referral Services in the United States
- Howard Rosenblum explained that in 2013, the RID initiated a task force to study the possibility of certifying interpreting agencies, and the NAD participated in this task force. The task force recommended further study on the issue; however, RID leadership decided it was not going to pursue this issue. About a year ago, the NAD felt this was important enough to pursue and formed a committee to pursue this certification. This is an important issue since many foreign language interpreting agencies (offering about 100 languages or so) offer ASL services (such as at hospitals) as part of a singular contract. However, such agencies have no knowledge of what constitutes effective communication for deaf individuals and appear to have no interest or skill in “matching” assignments to ensure the right fit between client and interpreter. They just send warm bodies.
- As another example aside from hospitals, the federal government sends out requests for bids for interpreting contracts. The bids do not have the ability to separate out the good agencies from the bad. As a result, the bad agencies often get contracts by bidding at very low rates that would make it impossible for them to utilize highly skilled interpreters, and the deaf consumers suffer.
- The NAD, through its committee, is actively seeking to develop criteria of what constitutes “quality” interpreting agencies. We are in the “developing standards” phase. The next step is to distribute the draft to the interpreter referral agencies on RID’s list for feedback.
- How will we enforce this? A lot of people argue businesses don’t care. The federal government is a good place to start, as they are looking for ways to improve the parameters of their bids.
- Bernie asked what the certification process would look like. Howard clarified that is what the NAD committee is exploring right now. The goal is to establish best practices that good interpreting agencies agree are the optimal ways of “matching” interpreters to clients.
- Bernie asked whether there would be application fees. Howard responded yes, it costs money to administer the certification program and grievance process.
- Bernie also asked if there is insurance to cover legal issues if agencies are unhappy with their not being certified or losing their certification. Howard explained that yes, the NAD has legal insurance to cover it in the event it is sued, just like RID has to protect itself from such complaints.
- Lise asked whether the NAD would be the certifying body. Howard answered: for now, yes.
- Bernie wondered whether this is just basically a Band-Aid. Howard explained that no, it will not just be a Band-Aid. It will fix a lot of issues. Right now, there is no oversight of interpreting agencies.
- Marcia added that as a former government employee (Army), she experienced ASL interpreting services through a foreign language interpreting agency and can attest to the need that Howard outlines.
Special Topic: Open Letter to RID from Consumer Organizations, and RID’s Response to the Letter
- Neal moved that since David, who filmed the Open Letter, is not present, the topic should be tabled to the next meeting. Howard seconded. Neal encouraged everyone to, in the meantime, look at the Open Letter video and RID’s response video to the Open Letter.
- Howard suggested that Claude check with RID and CSD leadership before putting the item back on the agenda as this might not be the appropriate venue for such a discussion.
- The NAD was contacted by an interpreter in Puerto Rico regarding a bill that already passed the Senate but has yet to pass the House. The bill proposes that each government agency in Puerto Rico select two people within that agency who took a minimum of 6 hours of ASL classes to be the interpreters for that agency. 6 hours is obviously not enough.
- The NAD is fortunate to have a staff attorney on our team who is fluent in Spanish. The NAD sent a letter in English and Spanish to the Puerto Rico legislature. Their response, in Spanish, was essentially “oh, don’t worry, 6 hours is just the minimum.” For obvious reasons, that is quite problematic. We are now exploring next steps and perhaps a possible lawsuit against Puerto Rico.
- Neal added that RID also sent a letter supporting the NAD’s recommendations and that they incorporate RID standards. No response yet. One of the Senators is blind and the other Senators think he knows the deaf and hard of hearing community’s needs. Education is quite necessary here.
Next Meeting Date
- Wednesday, October 4 at Gallaudet Alumni House.
The Vice Chair adjourned the meeting at 1:25 pm with thanks to Neal for coordinating lunch.
Zainab Alkebsi, Secretary