HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.C.R. NO.

150

TWENTY-FOURTH LEGISLATURE, 2008

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

REQUESTING THE LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE BUREAU TO STUDY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A COMPREHENSIVE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION CENTER FOR DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING INDIVIDUALS.

 

 

 


WHEREAS, the State benefits when its residents are productive, contributing members of society; and

 

WHEREAS, the ability to lead a productive life and contribute to society is often closely related to the pursuit of personal professional goals; and

 

WHEREAS, the State has an interest in providing consistent vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities so that they may meet their personal employment potential; and

 

WHEREAS, individuals with disabilities that affect their communication skills can face particular challenges when entering the workforce; and

 

WHEREAS, persons who are deaf or hard of hearing can experience difficulties in communicating, which may be overcome with specialized vocational rehabilitation services, such as the use of American Sign Language and residual hearing amplification techniques; and

 

WHEREAS, a significant number of deaf and hard of hearing individuals use American Sign Language as a primary mode of communication; and

 

WHEREAS, there exists a comprehensive state Department of Human Services vocational rehabilitation program called Hoopono that provides vocational rehabilitation services for blind and visually impaired individuals; and

 

WHEREAS, a 1996 Legislative Reference Bureau study entitled, "Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Hawaii" found that "there is no question that the Department of Human Services is required to provide vocational rehabilitation services to multiple populations, including the deaf or hard of hearing subgroup," that "the deaf population has not been receiving services on par with the blind population," and that "the number of services and staff devoted to vocational rehabilitation for the deaf group should be substantially greater than at present"; and

 

WHEREAS, Gallaudet University reports that, based on Census Bureau data collected in 1994-1995, an estimated 5.56 percent of Hawaii's population aged sixteen or older, or a little over 44,000 people, experience difficulty hearing in a normal conversational setting, and 0.47 percent, or 3,719 individuals aged sixteen or older cannot hear normal conversation at all; and

 

WHEREAS, this estimated population of over 47,700 could benefit from services provided by a comprehensive state facility providing their particular community with specialized vocational rehabilitation services; and

 

WHEREAS, in state fiscal year 2007, the Department of Human Services Hawaii Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind served 243 deaf and hard of hearing adults, and placed forty-five of these individuals in employment statewide; and

 

WHEREAS, the purpose of a comprehensive vocational rehabilitation center for persons who are deaf and hard of hearing would be to provide vocational assessment related to employment interests and capabilities, training related to independent living or adjustment services, including money management, time management, decisionmaking, and basic work skills, and to provide job placement, job coaching, and other necessary services to ensure that individual skills are maximized with placement in appropriate job settings; and

 

WHEREAS, services provided through a comprehensive state facility specifically designed for adults who are deaf and hard of hearing will improve client employment options and increase the number of job placements; and

 

WHEREAS, there may be centers on deafness in other states that may act as models for the establishment of comparable services in Hawaii; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Twenty-fourth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2008, the Senate concurring, that the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to report to the Legislature on establishing a comprehensive center serving deaf and hard of hearing individuals to coordinate and improve their employment options through the Hawaii Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind Division of the Department of Human Services; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to include research on model centers in other states for persons who are deaf and hard of hearing to address the type of services provided to the target population, and make findings and recommendations to:

 

(1) Suggest services to be delivered by a comprehensive state facility providing vocational rehabilitation services for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing;

 

(2) Roughly estimate the costs of establishing such a center in Hawaii and survey similar start-up and operating costs of centers in other states;

 

(3) Consult with agencies familiar with serving the target population, including the Hawaii Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division of the Department of Human Services, the Vocational Rehabilitation Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Board, the Disability and Communication Access Board, the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind, the Kapiolani Deaf Center, the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, the Hearing Loss Association of America, Ohana Kokua Ano Kuli, Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, and Hawaii Centers for Independent Living; and

 

(4) Recommend legislation to establish such a center to the Legislature for the Regular Session of 2009; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division of the Department of Human Services is requested to assist the Legislative Reference Bureau in this study by identifying the potential population of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Hawaii who may benefit from the services of a comprehensive center; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to submit its findings and recommendations to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2009; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Director of the Legislative Reference Bureau, the Director of the Hawaii Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division of the Department of Human Services, the Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Board, the Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board, the Administrator of the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind, the Director of the Kapiolani Deaf Center, the President of the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, the Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, the Director of Ohana Kokua Ano Kuli, the President of Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, and the Executive Director of Hawaii Centers for Independent Living.

Report Title:

LRB Study on State Deaf and Hard of Hearing Facility