Monday November 22, 2010
The past several years, the State of Washington has experienced several budget cutbacks. Recently, Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) has to eliminate funding from their proposed 2011-13 budget. DSB faced the difficult choice of identifying services that is not required by federal or state law and does not get federal funds. Unfortunately, one of the services identified was the DSB $240,228 contract with the Deaf-Blind Service Center (DBSC) and its Support Service Provider (SSP) services.
The SSP service is essential to the safety, security and independence of the deaf-blind community. I am pleased to announce that DBSC and its services will continue under the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This would not have been possible without the support of LouOma Durand; DSB Executive Director and Susan Dreyfus, DSHS Secretary; Tracy Guerin, DSHS Chief of Staff along with few DSHS Senior Directors, and Angela Theriault, DBSC Board President and members of the Board of Directors. To these people, I’m grateful.
ODHH is currently working with Office of Financial Management and DSHS to include the proposal in the Governor’s budget to be released late December. The budget bill will have to go through the legislative process. In the meantime, ODHH will be working with DSB to transfer the responsibilities.
The current DSB contract will expire on June 30, 2011. I’m confident that ODHH will be able start a new 2-year contract with DBSC from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013. Additionally, funding will be $250,000 annually for two years, totaling $500,000 for the biennium. Colleen Rozmaryn, well-known by the deaf-blind community, would become the contract administrator.
ODHH currently contract with DBSC to provide “Communication Facilitator” services, enabling deaf-blind to access video relay services. With this new role and capacity, I look forward to continuing the partnership with the Deaf-Blind Service Center in meeting the accessibility needs of the deaf-blind community.