Massachusetts Deafblind Family Alliance
We are a grassroots group united to promote and protect the interests of our family members with deafblindness. We endeavor to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.
We do this by:
Parents providing support and mentoring to other families
For more information contact:
ABC Grant Availability for Assistive Technology Needs for Persons that Qualify. Updated 10-08-2003
The Association for blind Citizens has established the Assistive Technology Fund to cover 50% of the retail price of adaptive devices or software. the ABC's board of directors believes that this program will provide blind and vusually impaired individuals access to technology products that will have a significant impact on improving employment opportunities, increase the level of independence and enhance their overall quality of life. The products covered by this program must retail for a minimum of $200 with a maximum retail price of $6,000. Persons eligible to apply for assistance must have a family income of less than $50,000 and cash assests of less than $20,000. Applicants must be legally blind and a resident of the United States to qualify for this program. Applications must be submitted by June 30th, September 30th and December 31st for each grant period (three per year). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legislative Update 7-17-2003
Good News! The House and Senate have voted to override Governor Romney's veto of line items 4110-2000 and 4110-2001. This restores $150,155 to the account which supports individuals already receiving services and $36,500 to the account which is designated for the people who are turning 22 and will be needing services during FY '04. Once again, your calls and emails make a difference!
Please now take a minute to thank your Representative and Senator for their support.
Enjoy the Summer,
Legislative Alert 7-9-2003
The House goes back into session at 1PM today, July 9. It is expected that they will discuss the overrides of the MCB Deafblind Unit's line items either today or tomorrow. It appears that the Speaker may attempt to override only $100 million of the over $200 million vetoed by Governor Romney. It is important to contact your Representative as soon as possible and encourage him or her to restore line items 4110-2000 and 4110-2001.
Legislative Alert 7-8-2003
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has vetoed the level-funding of the Massachusetts Comission for the Blind Deafblind Unit from the House Ways and Means Committee (see below for details). Please contact your state legislators and urge them to override the veto of line item 4110-2000.
The Governor's budget or House 1 which came out in February allocated $7,850,419 to the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind Deafblind Unit. Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee released their budget which directs $8,000,574 for the Deafblind Unit—an increase of $150,155! That is truly remarkable given that the House further cut the budgets of many other agencies and programs. These are very challenging times. I think that the small size of the Deafblind Unit and their relative budget played in their favor. However, I truly believe that the beautiful letters and testimonies provided by parents are the reason that the MCB Deafblind Unit is presently looking good budget-wise. Great job!
The next step in this process is for the Senate Ways and Means Committee to produce their budget, so we'll need to keep tabs on that.
On Friday March 28, on behalf of the Massachusetts Deafblind Family Alliance and parent representatives, Zane Basile gave testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee Hearing at the Gardner Auditorium in the State House. Zane also submitted twenty letters to court officers who will copy and distribute them to the panel and to those addressed.
The hearing was respectfully moderated by Senator Tolman, who managed to maintain order and flexibility throughout the busy day. Multiple deserving agencies were represented on Friday. Zane’s turn came at 1:25 pm. She stood at the microphone, held up her daughter’s picture, and spoke with moving composure of the need for specialized support services for children and students with deafblindness. The panel thanked her for her message for being succinct and keeping to the three-minute allocation. By 1:36pm we were in a cab on our way home! The day was a considerable success.
Thank you for taking the time to write letters. Please continue to respond. Watch for future family alliance announcements on this page.
Passing Along a Message From Northshore ARC (Received April 8, 2003):
Attention: "People Who Rely on PCA Services"
We are writing to tell you of some bad news, and some good news, (and then some more bad news and some more good news...)
The Bad News:
The Good News:
More Bad News:
Without skills training, people can't get access to the services, can't learn how to run it, can't get support around being an employer, etc.
More Good News:
Please join us to protest these cuts. We need your help to convince the Governor to maintain this vital service!
When: April 22, 2003
We wanted to give you updates on budget information and hearing dates on legislation.
It is expected that the House Ways and Means budget will be released on Wednesday, April 23 with amendments due by 5:00PM on Friday, April 25. Debate will begin on Wednesday, April 30.
We also wanted to share with you the hearing schedule for legislation before the Joint Committee on Human Services:
April 16: Department of Transitional Assistance
April 29: Elders, Veterans
May 27: Department of Medical Assistance, Departmetn of Health Care Financing,
Department of Public Health
May 28, Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Mental Health
June 4, Disabilities/Other
June 18, Department of Social Services, Department of Youth Services,
Office of Child Care Services
Tips for Testifying
Suggestions for parents testifying before various groups on topics
related to their families' experience in health or education as parents
of a child with special needs.
1. Be yourself! Someone asked you to testify because of who you are and what you and your family have experienced. Start off with your name, address, and the nature of your interest. You can mention any organization you are associated with if that is how you learned of the hearing.
2. Tell your story. The real, personal examples of your family and your child with special needs are what set you apart from others who might testify.
3. Keep it short. 5 minutes oral is enough.
4. Be prepared for questions. It's OK, however, to say, "I don't know." or "I feel..."
5. Do not be redundant. If someone before you has made the points you were going to make, agree with that person and don't repeat. Add your other points, though.
Before You Go
Allow plenty of time to be at the hearing—a half day at least. It helps to get a sense of what's happening before you testify.
Wear clothes that make you feel good and are comfortable.
After the Hearing
Thank members of thet committee, especially anyone who was especially helpful or sympathetic to your issues. Establish relationships with appropriate policymakers and their support staff. Encourage and support others to testify—don't always be the only one there.
Note: These tips also apply to one-on-one conversations with policy-makers.