Fund the Establishment of the DC Office of the Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing (ODBH)

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Fund the Establishment of the DC Office of the Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing (ODBH)

This petition made change with 520 supporters!
DC Association for the Deaf started this petition to Chairman Phil Mendelson and

DC Mayor Bowser and DC Council Chairman Mendelson,

We, deaf and hard of hearing residents of the District of Columbia, respectfully request FY22 funds for the new Office of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing (ODBH).  

This highlights the legislative chronology:  Bill B23-0147 the Office on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Establishment was introduced 2/19/19. It was introduced by Council Members Allen, R White, Nadeau, Bonds, Evans, and Grosso.  Council Members Cheh and Gray were co-sponsors. After a 10/15/19 public hearing and much advocacy and discussion, Council unanimously passed twice the now named Office of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing. The Mayor signed Act A23-0148 on 10/15/20.  It passed Congress and became Law L23-0152 on 12/8/20.

However, Mayor Bowser has not included ODBH funds in the FY22 budget. Thus, we continue our advocacy to serve the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities. We request the DC Council fund the ODBH in the FY22 Budget. 

The need for ODBH is significant and increasing.  Approximately 100,000 DC constituents have hearing loss. Although invisible, hearing loss is recognized as an individual disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and as a community health issue by the National Academies. Those with untreated hearing loss are at greater risk for an array of complications including cognitive decline, social isolation, and depression.  For these and other compelling reasons, more than 35 states now have such a dedicated agency as the center of services for their deaf and hard of hearing communities.

As DC strives to be more inclusive, ODBH will serve a diverse constituency as hearing loss and deafness do not discriminate by race, gender, age, nor social-economic status.  Without support to overcome communications barriers, this significant population is hindered in their ability to be productive contributors to DC’s volunteer, employment, and tax base.  

According to the DC Fiscal Impact Statement for ODBH, the proposed funding for FY22 is $836,000.  A quick cost/benefit analysis is a convincing argument for funding and operationalizing ODBH in FY22.  Again, after a lengthy, deliberate and iterative process among key stakeholders, we ask for your support to fund ODBH now.

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This petition made change with 520 supporters!

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