COVER: Governor Christie Proposes Reorganization in Fiscal Year 2013
DDHH budget is kept whole
Governor Chris Christie has presented his Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Address – part of which includes a proposed reorganization of certain state government agencies. The Department of Human Services plays a critical role in this reform effort, which presents a wonderful opportunity to enhance and realign this department’s mission and delivery of social services to New Jersey’s residents.
A significant part of the proposed plan involves a consolidation of services for seniors. Many of you may recall that in 1996, certain services from four government agencies had been reorganized to form the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The governor’s proposed reorganization recognizes that seniors and people with disabilities have similar needs for long term supports and services and will benefit from a continuum of coordinated and integrated long term care. As a result, programs and services that now serve seniors will move from DHSS to DHS and form a new Division of Aging Services, which will work closely and coordinate with our entire department – most particularly with our Division of Disability Services.
Another significant part of the governor’s plan is to integrate all programs, services and supports that serve children into the Department of Children and Families. Over the upcoming fiscal year, all children – including those now served by the Divisions of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health and Addiction Services – will transition from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Finally, Graduate Medical Education and the Hospital Relief Subsidy Fund, currently managed by the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services in our Department, will transition to the newly-renamed Department of Health, which is also responsible for the distribution of Charity Care funding.
The Legislature will consider the Governor’s proposal and vote on it by June 30, 2012. We believe this is an exciting time for our Department, and will continue to provide updates, as appropriate, on the progress of these important transitions.
NJAD Sets Priorities
By Michelle Cline, NJAD President
On February 4, NJAD hosted a roundtable discussion/forum for community members and elected officials from Deaf organizations to discuss goals and priorities so NJAD can focus on issues that are important for the Deaf Community. We had representation from DDHH, NJSD/MKSD, NJ Deaf Senior Housing, NJCCD, NWJAD, NJRID, DDCNJ, and many interested individuals, in addition to the whole NJAD board.
Discussions focused on different topics such as :
• Driver’s Education Program for Deaf Drivers
• Barrier for Deaf Senior Citizen Housing from HUD
o Update training manuals to include communication access
• NJAD’s Image and Public Relations
• Uniformity in recognizing Deaf/Hard of Hearing on Driver’s
• Access to culturally designated counselors in Divison of Vocational Rehabilitation
• Post High School Graduate Support Services
• Community Educational Programs regarding self advocacy
• Public Air/Ground Transportation facilities to install visual communication access for public broadcasting
• Quality Control of Interpreting Services
The priorities for the next two years are:
1) To help NJDSH in resolving the barriers with HUD
2) Develop post high school graduate support programming
3) Provide community educational program – teach the trainer
4) Public air/ground transportation – install visual announcements
5) Committee to explore legislative action regarding interpreting profession.
Our next meeting will be on March 31 from 1-6 p.m. at Jochem Center at New Jersey School for the Deaf – Katzenbach campus.
Save the Date!
NJ Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
28th Annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day
Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, New Jersey
June 9, 2012
Need extra money for your non-profit organization? This is a great opportunity to sell tickets. The online promocode system has been improved to allow more revenue for each organization/club. If your non-profit organization or club would like to participate with ticket sales for the 2012 event, please contact;
Lauren Lercher, Great Adventure Ticket Coordinator, at GATickets@aol.com.
The club/organizations must have the valid NJST-5 Tax Exemption Certificate for our file.
By David Alexander, Director, Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH)
As you are aware, Governor Chris Christie presented his proposed Fiscal Year 2013 State Budget address on February 21, 2012. The governor proposed funding for the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH) at the same level as Fiscal Year 2012. This is indeed good news for stakeholders and residents of New Jersey with hearing loss. If the Legislature approves this spending plan, the division will be able to maintain our existing services and move forward with the planned initiatives.
Additionally, Governor Chris Christie’s budget proposes a reorganization of certain state government agencies. For additional information, please see the message from Commissioner Velez on the cover of this month’s edition. The reorganization does not impact DDHH which will remain a division of the Department of Human Services. The proposal provides an opportunity to improve and realign this department’s mission and delivery of social services to New Jersey’s residents.
I would like to thank all of the stakeholders for attending the fall DHS budget hearing and submitting
testimony on behalf of services for the Deaf and hard of hearing. Your comments were indeed heard!
DDHH looks forward to working as partners with our stakeholders as we continue efforts to improve the
quality of life for New Jersey residents who are Deaf and hard of hearing.
We Welcome Your Articles and Ads The deadline for the April 2012 issue is March 1. The deadline for the May 2012 issue is April 1.
Kindly follow these guidelines for submissions:
• Should be less than two pages
• Send as Word attachment or on e-mail itself, no PDF
• Art, logos, photos may be sent as attached JPG
• Submissions are not normally repeated
• Content should be of interest to readers, events should be accessible to people with hearing loss, no direct selling products, but educational info about new technology acceptable
• Editor has discretion regarding editing, without final approval of submitter
Monthly Communicator State of New Jersey
Department of Human Services
Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Director: David C. Alexander
Editor: Ira Hock
PO Box 074
Trenton, NJ 08625-0074
The Monthly Communicator is published by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH), a state agency. DDHH provides information, referral, and advocacy to service recipients. Information or articles provided by others does not imply endorsement by DDHH or the State of New Jersey. There currently are 8,800 copies of the MC distributed monthly.
DDHH Office Upgrades Videophones
By Jason Weiland
In the ever changing world of technology, videophones have come a long way since their inception back in the 1990’s. For those not familiar with the videophone (VP) technology, the VP has bridged the communication gap between the Deaf and hearing. The TTY/TDD days of slow typing and aching fingers have slowly but surely found its place behind the office desk or in cabinet drawers where they have become dust laden. While the TTY still has a place in this world, it is clear that computers, videophones, laptops, ipad 2, smartphones, iphone, and other devices have taken over.
The DDHH office received its first videophone in 2004 when Sprint Relay installed the old VP-100 which was considered the top technology. We were the first New Jersey state agency to receive a VP. A short time after that, DDHH switched to a VP-100 through Sorenson VRS. In 2006, Sorenson came out with the VP-200 which featured a cool end remote and the ability to zoom, focus, and move the camera. The device gained enormous popularity and actually spawned the competitive nature that defines Video Relay Service. Other VRS companies such as ZVRS, SNAP VRS, and Purple have come out with their own videophones either as a stand-alone device or as a software/app download to one’s computer, laptop, ipad 2, or smartphone.
In January 2012, Sorenson VRS began to offer their newest videophone, NTouch Vp or N VP. The device is an upgrade over the VP-200 that had been in service since 2006. Slowly, Sorenson has begun to upgrade their VP-200 consumers to the N VP. One of the biggest features is the ability to leave not only video mail through VRS but also during VP to VP calls. With that in mind, DDHH has upgraded to the N VP as well. The N VP was installed in both Director David Alexander’s office and my cubicle. The change allows us to stay in line with the new technology used by our consumers. As a technology specialist, it also allows me to provide consumers with information about the videophones. At the time of this printing, all five of the Assistive Device Demonstration Centers (ADDC) will upgrade from the VP-200 to the N VP. The Centers are located in Harrison, Ewing, Mount Holly, Raritan, and New Brunswick. DDHH also will be testing out the Z-20 from ZVRS. Currently, David and I had been testing the T-150.
To keep up with the changing technology for the hard of hearing and late deafened, Sorenson Communications also will install a CaptionCall phone at four of our ADDC (Raritan, New Brunswick, Ewing, and Harrison). Our Mount Holly location currently has the CaptionCall phone on display. This allows an option in addition to the CapTel 800 and 800i for this population.
The division continues to provide consumers with information related to all videophone technology in addition to Sorenson VRS. Consumers who are Deaf or Deaf-blind and are interested in scheduling an appointment to learn more about VPs, CaptionCall phones, or other devices available in our ADDC can contact me at email@example.com or (609) 498-7006.
If you are a VP user leaving a video mail message (up to one minute), please hang up when you have completed your message.
For individuals who are hard of hearing or late-deafened, you can contact Traci Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (609) 984-7281 for an appointment.
Sign Language Classes Offered Raritan Valley Community College’s Continuing Education division will be offering two sign language courses this Spring 2012 semester.
Sign Language Basic will develop vocabulary and practical conversational skills. The course will be on Wednesdays, February 1 through April 4. The cost per participant is $152.
Sign Language Intermediate will build upon the grammar and vocabulary skills learned from the Sign Language Basic. The course will be Wednesdays, February 1 through April 4. The cost per participant is S152.
To register or for more information, call Continuing Education at (908) 218-8871 or visit www.raritanval.edu/ce
RVCC’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 40 years, the College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates. RVCC at Bridgewater, located at 14 Vogt Drive, offers technical, trade, credit and non-credit courses.
Kean University Lecture
On March 29, The Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at Kean University, in cooperation with the Jewish Studies program and the Department of History present, “Can the Good Guys Win? Justice, Gaza, and Asymmetric War,” a 7:30 p.m. lecture, by Michael Walzer, professor emeritus of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, and one of America’s foremost political thinkers.
The lecture includes sign language interpretation. It will take place in STEM auditorium.
This event is free, though a donation at the door will continue to make programs like these available to the general public.
For directions, visit www.kean.edu/directions.html
HLA-NJ News and Views
A Monthly Column from The Hearing Loss Association of NJ
By Peter Yerkes, Trustee, HLA-NJ
It’s a New World for People with
Hearing Loss—But Much Remains To Be Done
When I was a kid in the fifties, I spent as much time as I could with my grandfather, whom I revered. I always knew when he was home, because I would hear the Red Sox game blaring from his TV long before I got to the front door. The Red Sox, and the Thursday night fights on TV - also with the volume at ear-splitting levels - were among his few diversions. At parties, and even at family meals, people often ignored this smart, funny man because he was too hard to talk to. The phone was possible, barely. He used hearing aids but they were primitive.
When it comes to help for people with hearing loss, it’s not my grandfather’s world any more. But as Jane Brody argued in her recent column on hearing loss in The New York Times (Jan. 16, 2012), all the advances just underscore the need to be stronger and more effective advocates for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The best technology and support services in the world are useless if people don’t take advantage of them.
Sixty years after those summer Red Sox games, my hearing is far worse than my grandfather’s. I am deaf, not hard of hearing. Yet I lead a life my grandfather would have envied. As my hearing progressively worsened, starting in my 50s, I learned speech reading at the League for the Hard of Hearing in New York, now the Center for Hearing and Communication(CHC). They told me about new advances in hearing aids as soon as they hit the market. On vacations in Red Sox land, I don’t miss a word of the play-by-play thanks to captions on the TV. As my hearing worsened, I fought back with cochlear implants. I benefit from captioned performances in movies and live theater, infrared in church, loops in museums...the list could go on and on. Deafness still has its trials and its humiliations, but nothing like what my grandfather experienced.
A lot to be thankful for. But Ms. Brody points out there is a lot of work to be done. Public education, like that done by the state Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the CHC and Hearing Loss Association of New Jersey, is vital. Too many people don’t know what’s available. If they do, too many dismiss hearing loss as “no big deal,” a normal part of aging.
Yet Ms. Brody reports that serious hearing loss is a very big deal indeed. It can lead to isolation and depression, loss of friends or work opportunities, strains on a marriage or family ties.
Like many people with hearing loss, I was leery about hearing-loss activists. Deafness was there, to be accepted. I didn’t want to annoy “normal” people by asking them to speak more slowly—especially not busy, important people like doctors. The older I get, the more I understand how destructive this attitude is. On a personal level, I owe it to friends and family members to keep up with the latest advances and resist the temptation to withdraw into my books. I am resolved to check out captioning for my cellphone, and learn how to make better use of assistive listening devices in churches, movie theaters and live theaters.
We all can do more to advocate for causes such as Medicare coverage for hearing aids. We can speak up when we encounter a nursing home or a hospital, or a doctor or lawyer or other professional that treats people with hearing loss with disdain – or is ignorant of their communication needs. We can be more open about discussing our own hearing loss, more assertive in asking for help when we need it and encouraging people who need help to get it.
The other day, during one of the medical check-ups that come more frequently the older I get, the doctor noticed my cochlear implant and asked me how it worked and whether it had helped me. After we chatted for five minutes, I asked why he was so interested. His answer startled me: he said he had hearing loss, and wore a powerful high-tech aid in each ear. The devices, tiny to start with, were concealed by his fashionably long, curly hair.
It was my turn to question him. We talked about when he started to lose hearing, and how the hearing loss manifested. I couldn’t help thinking that sixty years ago, he might have been looking at retirement years sitting alone in his living room, with the volume on the ball game cranked up as high as it would go.
It is indeed a new world for people with hearing loss. But there is a lot of work still to do, ranging from lobbying on behalf of Medicare coverage for hearing aids to public education to make people aware of the dangers of the “hidden disability.”
My grandfather was a wonderful man and he had, in many ways, a very happy life. I’m just sorry he didn’t live to enjoy all the help I have with hearing loss. When I think of him, I can’t help having one other regret. I also wish he had lived to see the Red Sox win the World Series.
To learn more about HLA-NJ, please contact Arlene Romoff at email@example.com. We also invite you to visit www.hearingloss-nj.org, or to attend one of our local chapter meetings in Bergen, Monmouth/Ocean or Middlesex County, and our newest Morris County chapter. Dates, places and times for chapter meetings are available at www.hearingloss-nj.org .
Counseling: When the Deaf/Hearing Line Disappears
By Lynne Moser, LCSW
It’s not hard to recall being sixteen. I was consumed with a search for comfort and solutions during a difficult time. My parents were fighting and the volume at home was loud. The only peace I could find was in my class, this new world of signs. Sign class was where I found joy; it was the place I wanted to be. What a beautiful, expressive and mysterious language – and Deaf culture and history took me on a wonderful journey, far from the 1980’s Bronx. To me, St. Joseph School’s old brick building seemed to promise the dream of a peaceful communication, a visually-rich, somehow quieter way to connect. It was my escape from static and the anger-filled noise at home. And it mattered that I was there; the teacher was invested in my learning. It was expressive, beautiful and what a relief! At age sixteen, learning sign language became my exit from tension and pain at home and an entrance to the promise of a meaningful life and career.
Learning sign language was an emotional and positive experience and I threw myself into it with love and diligence. I studied ASL throughout high school and college, immersing myself in the Deaf world as much as possible. I saw countless movies: Children of A Lesser God, Johnny Belinda, Love Is Never Silent, The Miracle Worker, to name a few, and always felt a kinship with the Deaf characters and their experiences -- frustration, lack of communication, and misunderstanding defined my life. I was them and they were me.
I grew up with a deep sense of isolation and loneliness. Yes, I could definitely hear my parents (how I wished I couldn’t!) and, sadly, could understand the words they used. But the connection between us was lost. They lacked a real understanding of me; I thought and behaved and viewed the world differently. They admonished me too often for reasons that made no sense. Of course, my obstacles were different than the ones many Deaf people share, but I was similarly alienated. The lack of understanding and emotional distress separated me from my perhaps well-meaning but distracted parents.
I had a natural affinity for people seeking relief from pain. So in 1995, during my own search for clarity and peace, I gravitated towards a Masters in Social Work. My ASL fluency earned me a full scholarship to the school of my choice if, after grad school, I would work with Deaf and hard-of hearing students in the New York City public schools. The Board of Education paid my way and I knew I’d found my calling. As I slowly became proficient in ASL, I met others who made total sense and whose presence and connection was comforting. Through them I had learned enough to be ready for the job.
How natural it was to work with high school students who were in emotional pain and felt such disconnect at home. And, due to my desire to overcome my own, I aspired towards – and achieved – the most fulfilling profession. I could provide a real support to them while, slowly and sensitively, educating their parents. It was perfect. My students became my family; they grew to trust me and they listened. Together we explored everything from depression to love, fury to forgiveness, and interdependence to self-reliance. As a hearing member of the Deaf community, I have been thrilled and honored; my Deaf friends became classroom presenters and employers to my students! And, all along, many of my kids had simply needed someone to listen.
It doesn’t matter if we listen with our ears, our eyes, or our fingers. What matters is that we listen with our hearts. To really pay attention, to understand and care for our children and for each other goes beyond putting aside our Smartphones for a few minutes. To truly pay attention requires an effort and energy that breathes on an entirely different level of consciousness. It is the stuff of recognizing and healing one another, and it is afforded to all of us all through a caring and genuine therapist. Deaf, hearing or hard of hearing – regardless of your cultural, political or educational perspective – this is simply a human truth.
Lynne Moser, LCSW is a licensed, clinical social worker with more than 13 years’ experience working with Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals. She is an active member of the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work and NASW’s Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has worked in school, agency, and home settings in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Her office is located approximately 20 minutes from Trenton, NJ. Please visit www.lynnemoser.com or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Challenges for Hearing Loop Awareness
By Mark Zuckermam
My articles in past Monthly Communicator issues described three different ways of deploying hearing loop technology in public spaces: as built-ins incorporated in a building’s structure, as fixtures attached to the ceiling, and as appliances, individual hearing loop environments generated by mats or carpets placed on the floor.
It’s easy to make the case that hearing loops are the most sensible, cost-effective, and effective assistive listening systems among currently available technologies (the others being infrared and FM). The equipment is relatively inexpensive. Hearing loops are easily engineered to suit a multitude of environments. They work fine in spaces with irregular shapes or with physical obstructions, which can cause problems for infrared systems. They can be engineered so that adjacent spaces can have independent hearing loops, a problem for FM systems.
Unlike infrared and FM systems, which require a special receiver for each user, hearing loops leverage the receivers – T-Coils – that many users have integrated into the hearing devices they’re wearing already. (There are also portable T-Coil receivers that play through headphones, like the ones that come with infrared or FM systems, for those people who need them.) Plus, because they’re integrated with the wearers’ listening devices, the T-Coils produce a higher quality sound than portable receivers.
With so much going for them, you’d think hearing loops would be everywhere. Yet, hearing loops remain one of the best kept secrets in the U.S.
They’re not a secret in Great Britain, where hearing loops are ubiquitous. That’s because in Great Britain, public policy and the health care system are aligned in support of hearing loops. The British National Health Service dispenses hearing aids, all of which are required to have T-Coils. This means that British audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers are all on the same page regarding hearing loop technology. This means there is public awareness of hearing loops and widespread recognition of the international symbol indicating the presence of a hearing loop.
The U.S. is a different story. For one thing, not everyone has health insurance. For those that do, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (www.hearingloss.org), a mandate to cover hearing aids exists in only three states (Alaska, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), although 12 states (including New Jersey) have programs that provide hearing aids to minors and one (Georgia) to people with low incomes. Government workers may be better off, depending on which government employs them: some Federal Employee Health Benefits plans cover hearing aids, as do plans for state workers in Minnesota and Kentucky and retired state workers in California. Military active duty personnel and their immediate families can get hearing aids if their hearing loss is diagnosed as profound. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs supplies hearing aids to veterans who can demonstrate their hearing loss is service-related.
Unlike Great Britain’s National Health Service, though, none of the hearing aids available through the few U.S. health care plans offering them are required to have T-Coils. Although the percentage of T-Coil-equipped hearing aids distributed in the U.S. is climbing – currently, about 60% – it’s still a far cry from the near 100% in some other countries.
According to Sergei Kochkin of the Better Hearing Institute (www.betterhearing.org), of the approximately 34 million adults aware of hearing loss, 19.4 million suffer moderate to profound loss and of these, 8.4 million own hearing aids. There are no statistics available about how many U.S. hearing aid owners actually know if they have a T-Coil, let alone know how to use it.
Lack of awareness among potential beneficiaries of hearing loops is a non-trivial issue, as illustrated by a couple of people I know:
• New York City composer Richard Einhorn worked in the recording industry until he suffered a major hearing loss, requiring hearing aids. He’s someone who’s aware of state-of-the-art audio technology, yet he discovered his hearing aids’ T-Coil capability entirely by accident. Now he’s an energetic advocate for hearing loops; his story was reported in the New York Times last October.
• Rabbi Daniel Grossman of Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville has experienced hearing loss since birth and has been active throughout his life in the deaf and hard of hearing community. He has been at the forefront of promoting accessibility for the hard of hearing and has a T-Coil in his hearing aid. Nevertheless, he was unaware of hearing loop technology when he visited England last summer and didn’t recognize the international symbol for the presence of a hearing loop in the many places he saw it.
These two are highly informed about hearing loss issues and deeply involved in the hearing loss community. Yet they had to go out of their way to discover hearing loops. Imagine what it must be like for others.
Mark Zuckerman can be reached by email at MarkZuckerman@emcomsys.com . Information about Emcom Systems’ hearing loop appliance is at www.TruHearing.com .