May 15, 2019

CEO Corner

It is the middle of April as I write this column, which means there’s a flurry of legislative activity taking place at both the state and federal level. During this session, there have been many bills flying around both legislative bodies, including the two below that The IC has had the most interest in.

Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO of The ICHB19-1069 Interpreter Certification

At the state level, The IC worked with the deaf/Deaf/Hard of Hearing/DeafBlind (d/D/HH/DB) and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting communities to help get this bill passed.

Status: Signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on April 16, 2019.

Background: Prior to the passage of this bill, the Legal and Educational Interpreting laws in Colorado stated that only Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)-certified ASL interpreters could be used in any business-type transaction (medical, legal, banking, etc.). At this time, the state only has 253 certified interpreters and RID had not been very responsive to the need for more certification sessions in Colorado. This law empowers the Colorado Commission on the Deaf, Blind, and DeafBlind to pick other certification processes that can be used in addition to RID.

Bottom line: This law ensures that d/D/HH/DB people will have more certified interpreters to engage and can be much more confident of getting accurate interpretations. Interpreters will benefit from a faster certification process, or if their current certification is accepted by the state, they can go to work right away. Businesses and medical facilities benefit from having more qualified interpreters available.

Disability Integration Act (DIA)

The IC supports this rare, bipartisan bill that would help people with disabilities live in the community, rather than a nursing home.

Status: Just reintroduced mid-January in both the Federal House of Representatives (HR. 2472) and the Senate (SB 918).

Background: For a number of years, disability advocates across the country, including ADAPT, Protection and Advocacy agencies (now called Disability Rights Centers), and the National Council on Independent Living have been working to get programs funded to assist people with significant impairments to live at home and not in a nursing facility. Because this is
Medicaid-based, it has been impossible to pass into national law. Time for a different tactic!

The DIA makes it a civil right across the nation to live in the community with assistance for people at risk of nursing home placement. The Center on Disability Rights (New York) explains it well: “It would require both public and private insurances that cover any kind of long-term care to give equal coverage to home and community support services, so you could simply choose that option if it’s what you want. It would require this in every state, so no matter where you live, your right to independence would be the same.”

For more information on DIA, visit http://cdrnys.org/blog/disability-politics/the-disabilityintegration-
act/. Follow the progress of this bill via updates on our website and Facebook page. If you would like to voice your support, please contact your elected representatives.

If you would like to get even more involved with advocacy on these and other public policy efforts, please call our Advocacy Department at 719-471-8181.