Vocational Services For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Through A Comprehensive Service Center - Fact Sheet


Fact Sheet

  • It is estimated that one in ten Americans -- or 30,000,000 individuals -- have a hearing loss, making it the most prevalent, chronic, physical disability in America.
  • The prevalence of hearing loss in the general population is steadily increasing, with the greatest increases occurring in the under 17 age group and the 45-64 age group, and that trend is expected to continue with the "baby-boomer" generation experiencing age-related hearing loss and life expectancy continuing to grow.
  • Although delivery of vocational rehabilitation services to the deaf and hard of hearing in Hawaii has showed steady progress, it still lags behind service to the blind and visually impaired in terms of the number of people served and the range of services provided.
  • Disconnected and uncoordinated service delivery minimizes the effectiveness of the already limited resources invested in serving the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Access to the downtown Honolulu location of the Deaf Services Section is inconvenient for consumers; even if it was more convenient, consumers would still have to travel to multiple locations and interact with multiple providers to receive the full range of needed services.
  • The Deaf Services Section has been deprived of its minimum complement of personnel by a high turnover of personnel in certain positions, which has led to a cycle in which the vacant positions are eliminated, advocacy groups work for them to be reestablished, and filling the positions takes an extended period of time.
  • Deaf and hard of hearing employees tend to be placed in entry level positions and rarely advance; frustrated with seemingly dead-end jobs, a significant number of these former clients simply give up, quit their jobs, exit the employment pool, and return to subsistence on public benefits.
  • Utah's Robert G. Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf is one example of a comprehensive facility serving the deaf and hard of hearing that provides services designed to increase productivity, independence, and community integration of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, including information and referral, educational classes, counseling and case management services, recreation and leisure activities, telecommunication services for the deaf, repair and maintenance of assistive technology, interpreter services, and a library.
  • The department of human services should conduct an in-depth review of the organization of the vocational rehabilitation and services to the blind division to develop a comprehensive plan to restructure services to the deaf and hard of hearing through a comprehensive service center.