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Committee Vote Signals Potential New Era for Enhancing Education of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Children in Michigan
March 22, 2022
Lansing, MI—Today the Michigan House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors passed and sent on to the full House H.B. 5777 – a bill that would require the State of Michigan to provide parents of young children who are deaf and hard of hearing with the resources necessary to ensure they have opportunities for early language acquisition, including on the importance of education in American Sign Language (ASL), English, or both. These resources will help ensure deaf and hard of hearing children in Michigan have the same educational opportunities that hearing children enjoy.
“I want to thank the members of the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors for their vote in support of HB 5777, substitute H-1,” said Annie Urasky, Director of the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing within the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “This bill, if it becomes law, will provide parents with critical information and educational resources, empowering them to make fully informed decisions that will directly impact their child’s language acquisition and developmental milestones. It will have a positive, long-term impact on the lives of students who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing and their families. The key principle must be preserving the right of students who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing to fully experience the same opportunities every other child has in their pursuit of success in both education and in life.”
HB 5777 would require the State of Michigan to provide resources to parents and legal guardians of young children who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing that will help them monitor and track their child's language acquisition and developmental progress toward English literacy.
The full House is expected to vote on H.B. 5777 later this session. If passed, a Senate Committee will take up the bill.
The Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing, housed within the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, affirms the indisputable rights of Michiganders who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing to secure effective communication. The Division receives input from a thirteen-member Advisory Council appointed by the Governor. The Division provides:
• Educational programs and services for individuals who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing on the right to equal protection under the law; and advises businesses, courts, hospitals and other entities who may be called upon to provide accommodations for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing individuals.
• Advice on accessibility and compliance with state and federal laws for employers, educational institutions, service providers and businesses with recommendations on ways to ensure inclusive and accessible programs and services for individuals who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing.
• Referrals for individuals who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing to appropriate public or private agencies that deal with specific problems or concerns.
• Technical support and information on assistive technology.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is charged with investigating and resolving complaints of discrimination and working to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides training and services to government agencies, businesses, schools and organizations on diversity initiatives, fair housing and equal employment law. MDCR is the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC). Learn more about MDCR and MCRC at www.michigan.gov/mdcr.
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