Help Preserve the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH)
By Cheryl Heppner, January 19, 2012
Resolutions are making their way through both the House of Delegates and the Senate in the Virginia General Assembly that would combine the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with the Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Department for the Aging. The resolutions were recommended by the Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring in 2011. This commission was established by Governor McDonnell in an attempt to make government more effective and efficient.
The text of both resolutions is the same, and you can find it by scrolling down to #23 at either of these links:
House Joint Resolution No. 49 – http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+ful+HJ49
Senate Joint Resolution No. 66 -- http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+ful+SJ66
This is the fifth time that there has been an attempt to consolidate VDDHH with another agency, but all previous attempts were to combine it with the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.
I traveled to Richmond on Monday with Gary Viall, Chair of the Virginia Association of the Deaf Legislation Committee and Jill Moebus, President of Northern Virginia Association of the Deaf. Both Gary and I were given a chance to speak against the VDDHH merger when it came before the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology. After we spoke, a motion to remove it from the resolution passed by a vote of 8-7.
On Tuesday, the three of us returned to Richmond so that we could speak against the resolution in the House Committee on Rules. We were never given an opportunity to speak and the resolution moved forward with the consolidation plan intact, although some others were removed.
There is still time to get the proposed VDDHH consolidation taken off the table.
We need your help now!
We strongly disagree with the commission appointed by Governor McDonnell. We do not believe that combining VDDHH with the two other agencies will make for more efficient or effective services. VDDHH has been steadily improving its programs and services, including support to outreach providers like NVRC despite limited funding.
VDDHH was established in 1972 through a strong grassroots effort by consumers who wanted to have a voice in Virginia. Its directors have all been deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, we do not believe there are any significant cost savings, as VDDHH has already streamlined its operations by outsourcing and careful money management. Should the consolidation happen, it will affect the agency’s ability to be effective, as many details must be worked out and this will take staff away from the work they are doing now.
VDDHH must serve an estimated 600,000 individuals with hearing loss in Virginia, yet it has a staff of only 8 individuals in its Richmond office. Its support to community-based nonprofit organizations such as NVRC has already helped us build a network in communities throughout Virginia and collaboration is already occurring with local agencies on aging and DRS as well as other agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Please take the time to call Governor McDonnell. It’s important that we make as many calls as we can NOW. Tell him you are calling because you are strongly opposed to the proposed merger of VDDHH with the Department of Rehabilitative Services and Department of Aging. Ask that he remove VDDHH from the plan for consolidation.
If you use relay to make your calls, don’t be shy; the Governor and his staff are not used to having a lot of calls by relay and it will get their attention and educate them. Use VRS or TTY relay or the other form of relay you prefer.
Governor McDonnell’s number is: 804-786-2211.
Give your name and the city or county where you live. Say that you are calling because you are strongly opposed to the proposed merger of VDDHH (Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) with the Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Department for the Aging. Urge him to withdraw his support for it.
Also encourage your family and friends to call, and spread the word to others. It would be powerful to flood the Governor’s office with calls so he knows that we care a great deal about this.
IF YOU CAN’T CALL, EMAIL THE GOVERNOR AT: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
Select the box on the form asking for a response.
And please let us know about your call or email and the response you get!