Increased funding for service providers to help deaf-blind people 2

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COLUMBIA – A bill making its way through the Statehouse could help both deaf and blind people live more independently.

The bill would allocate $300 thousand annually to be distributed to support service providers as grants.

Stephanie Logan is the executive director at the Leadership through Education and Advocacy for the Deaf or LEAD Institute.

Logan said the exact number of both deaf and blind people in the state is hard to pinpoint, but the deaf community is fairly large in Missouri.

“The deaf and hard of hearing community in Missouri is nearly 600 thousand,” Logan said.

The bill would allow grant money to be given to three groups.

Organizations that provide services for both deaf and blind children and their families, organizations that provide services for both deaf and blind adults and organizations that train support service providers would be eligible to apply for grant money from the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Logan said one goal of the bill is to help both deaf and blind people live more independently.

“The goal is really to provide some separation so that a deaf-blind individual has a support service provider. That is a professional that has been trained to provide the kind of care that is needed so that a deaf-blind individual can become independent,” Logan said.

Supporters of the bill said, “The bill establishes a grant program to provide necessary services to deaf-blind individuals and their families. Today, deaf-blind people can do everything everyone else can do with the assistance of support service providers. The bill will allow deaf-blind individuals to go to work and school and will create new jobs in the support service provider field. The bill will also decrease deaf-blind individuals' reliance upon public assistance.”

The bill has already been voted on in two committees and it has gone unopposed in both.