Support Service Providers (SSP’s) are an invaluable asset that link people who are deaf-blind to independence and quality of life. SSP’s are the communication connection to aid shopping, medical appointments, errands, church participation, and other community activities. For three years, Deaf-Blind Living Well Services coordinated through the Center for Independent Living of Central PA was able to provide 14 hours of SSP time for deaf-blind individuals per month. The program, which had received funding through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) had its funding cut recently. Now, individuals can only receive up to five hours of service per month. Imagine the strain of having to get all of your errands, shopping, and appointments done within a five-hour period each month. And as of right now, funding for this paltry amount of service is projected to stop completely on June 30, 2018 if no action is taken.
Marsha Drenth, Program Manager of the Deaf-Blind Living Well Services encourages action as follows:
· Tell the Department of Labor and Industry, that SSP services provide important independence to persons who are deaf-blind. Consider sending an email to the L&I Secretary, Robert O’Brien at email@example.com
· Tell the Department of Human Services to include SSP services under the new managed care system. Consider sending an email to the Department of Human Services’ Secretary, Teresa Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Tell your legislators that SSP services should be included in the new managed care system.
· If you have already sent emails to the above offices and representatives, please continue to encourage them not to let SSP services disappear by doing a follow-up call or email.
· We are planning a legislative day in Harrisburg to take place in the next few months, stay tuned for further information to come. We will need all consumers who are deaf-blind, all SSPs, all stakeholders, interpreters, families, parents, and other interested in deaf-blind issues to attend that day.