State looks to increase jobs for people who are deaf or blind

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JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri House committee passed a bill Thursday to help those who are deaf and blind gain better access to services and jobs.

The bill would require the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to provide grants to organizations that provide services to people who are deaf and blind.

There are an estimated 2,000-5,000 people who are deaf-blind and about 600,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Missouri, according to the MCDHH.

“Right now there is no law that mandates those services but this bill will provide those services,” said Opeoluwa Sotonwa, the executive director for MCDHH.

This bill would allow people who are deaf and blind to go to work and have the support they need for the job. In particular, the bill would fund the training and certification of Support Service Providers for organizations.

“This bill will benefit deaf-blind people. Deaf-blind will be able to have an SSP to be able to lead them to work everyday or to be able to train people to become certified SSPs in the state of Missouri,” Sotonwa said.

The Daniel Boone Regional Library currently provides services to both the visually and hearing impaired. Mid-Missouri has a lot of organizations available to help people with disabilities, according to Circulation and Outreach Manager Patrick Finney.

“In terms of service to people with visual disabilities, we have large print material for people who are visually impaired as well as large and ever-growing collection of audiobooks,” Finney said.

The library also has interpreters available on staff to help those who are hearing impaired.

The bill will now be added to the calendar for perfection before being passed on to the senate for a vote.

This article has been updated for content.