34 states have government-level agencies for the deaf and hard of hearing. Washington, D.C., which is home to one of the nation’s largest per-capita deaf populations, does not — yet.
By Daniel Uria
Dec. 5 (UPI) — A historic bill that would create the first-ever Washington, D.C., office for the deaf and hard of hearing is moving closer to fruition thanks to a growing movement that argues it’s about time disabled Americans have a government voice in the nation’s capital.
The bill would establish the Office on Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the district — which would work in concert with the Office of Disability Rights to enhance existing programs and guarantee access to services viewed as critical to improving the lives of disabled Americans in Washington.
“Having an office for the deaf and hard of hearing has been proven highly effective in many states — in terms of addressing service gaps, access to government services and shaping public policy,” said Graham Forsey, president of the District of Columbia Association of the Deaf. “The District of Columbia should not be an exception.”
Thirty-four states have government-level agencies for the deaf and hard of hearing. However, Washington, D.C. — the seat of one of the most expansive governments in the world — has none.
It’s a strange distinction, Forsey says, considering the nation’s capital is home to one of the largest deaf populations, per capita, in the nation. The city also is the home of Gallaudet University, a federally chartered university that accommodates the deaf and hard of hearing.
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