Deafblind / Support Service Providers / PA House Bill 2069
Hello. My name is Donna Huff, and I’m Deafblind. I’m also the Deafblind coordinator. SSPs are very important to me because I need to get out of the house. It’s not good for us to experience isolation. We need to get out and about in the community, enjoy ourselves, go grocery shopping, and so on. I don’t like depending on my family. I want to be independent. I need your help in supporting SSPs. Thank you. Since I have Usher Syndrome, I am now Deafblind. Being alone in my house can be lonely for me. It’s not good for one’s health. If a person is at home too much, they can develop health problems such as mental illness, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. I need to go outside and interact with others with the assistance of an SSP. For example, Helen Keller had an SSP to help her, Johanna “Anne” Sullivan. In the past, Deafblind individuals had companions, but now it has come to a halt. SSP services should continue. Without an SSP, many Deafblind individuals feel lost in their surroundings. Hearing people who are non-signers communicate with Deafblind people through print-on-palm, but that method is challenging. For example, in a store, hearing people who are non-signers can’t communicate with Deafblind shoppers about clothing colors, etc. SSPs provide me with visual information so I can select the right kinds of items, such as brands, spices, clothing colors and fabrics, etc. on my shopping list. SSPs have signing skills, and that is how Deafblind individuals communicate. If we do not have an SSP, Deafblind individuals cannot tell which are the preferred products, etc. therefore we still need SSP. Hearing people who are non-signers can’t communicate with Deafblind shoppers about clothing colors, etc. Deafblind individuals feel more comfortable while communicating with SSPs who know how to use American Sign Language instead of fingerspelling, print-on-palm, and writing with small fonts. When I travel with an SSP, he or she provides me with all kinds of visual and environmental information. For example, what mountains look like, how beautiful they are, what public transportation looks like, names of restaurants, etc. I can neither see nor hear anything. Therefore, I must have SSPs. Thank you. I’m Jimmy Iandiorio. SSPs are very important because I need to get out and about, and I can’t see. People who can see have no problem traveling, but it’s a challenge for me because I can’t see. Just like anyone else, I want to attend the theater, go shopping, go to the doctor’s office, take public transportation, etc. One state, Louisiana, provides 60 hours per month–far more SSP hours than here in Pennsylvania. Other states such as Florida and Arizona provide about 50 hours. Most other states provide at least 25 hours. However, Pennsylvania provides less than 15 hours! I am asking you and our government officials to continue support for SSP services. Why is Pennsylvania lagging behind other states? Pennsylvania needs to improve for the sake of the Deafblind community and their ability to enjoy life, instead of constantly staying home. Being alone in my house can be lonely for me. One of my Deafblind friends lives in Virginia. For example, her parents are passed, and she lives alone. Her mental health is deteriorating, and she has trouble remembering her friends’ names because she has no opportunities to get out and socialize. Her life is like a prison. That’s why SSP services are so crucial; they prevent depression. Just like anyone else, Deafblind individuals need to socialize and be a part of society. Hello. Staying at home isn’t fair. We need SSPs to do things like grocery shopping, visiting family, attending meetings, and recreational activities. I am Deafblind, so I can’t see. Staying home day in and day out is not fair and not right. Please support SSP services. Thanks. We need more SSPs. Please come! I have a hard time getting around by myself. Thank you very much. I need SSP services because I am lonely. Please support SSPs. Thank you. We need more SSPs, instead of SSP services coming to a stop. Every year, we need more and more SSPs. Instead of once a month, we need SSP access every week for shopping, swimming, groceries, socializing, Christmas gatherings, Valentine’s Day outings, Easter celebrations, and traveling. Please support SSPs! Please support SSPs because I do not want to stay at home day after day. I want to go out and enjoy myself. Hi, I’m an SSP and I’m Deaf. When Pennsylvania set up an SSP program, I was a volunteer for four years. Later, I became a professional SSP. I see how happy Deafblind people are when they have an SSP. Instead of depression, they feel happy and it increases their self-esteem. When SSP hours were reduced to five hours a month, I saw many Deafblind people change and become depressed and upset. Imagine: just five hours in one month! Five hours per month is just impossible. You cannot even imagine. Deafblind individuals need more SSP hours to increase their independence, and their self-esteem. Without SSPs, Deafblind are isolated or have to depend on family and friends for so much. That’s just not good. Other states have been successful in increasing SSP hours of service, but not here. There will always be a continued need for SSP services for Deafblind people. Thank you. Hello! I’m an SSP, and I’m Deaf. I feel really bad for the Deafblind. Think about it: a Deafblind person stays at home, and the worst part is, they can’t watch TV, use visual things like personal devices, and they can’t look out the window at what’s happening. Imagine you yourself are Deafblind, and you go shopping. How do you know what items are on the shelves? Just five hours per month with an SSP? How is that possible? It’s insane. Find a way to support SSPs. Thank you. Hello. I’m Deaf, and I’m an SSP. Take a moment to imagine you were a dog. You’re waiting patiently at the fence, waiting patiently for your owner to return home. When your owner arrives home, the dog feels excited. It’s the same concept with Deafblind individuals if they are constantly at home, waiting, and finally the SSP arrives after one or two weeks because they only receive funding for five hours per month with each Deafblind person. When the SSP arrives, the Deafblind person can finally leave the house, breathe fresh air, and experience freedom. Without an SSP, a Deafblind person is like a hostage in their own home. Without outside contact, a person begins to develop mental health problems like depression and perseverance. It isn’t normal or healthy for a person to be cooped up inside the house. It’s important to recruit, educate, and train professional SSPs. In turn, the SSPs will support Deafblind individuals in living more independent lives. Remember, Deafblind citizens pay taxes. SSPs pay taxes as well. Therefore, Pennsylvanians should support us. Thank you. I’m an SSP. I see Deafblind just staying at home all the time while hearing and Deaf people go out anytime they want. Deafblind can’t drive a car, while hearing and Deaf people can. Deafblind have to make appointments with an SSP anytime they want to run an errand. Hearing and Deaf people are privileged because they can go anytime they wish. We need to support Deafblind SSPs in order to be fair. Society may perceive Deafblind individuals as doing just fine, but the reality is, they are not fine. They can’t read the newspaper or other devices. Grocery stores and restaurants don’t generally provide braille to their customers. If SSPs don’t get paid, they can’t provide services to the Deafblind consumers. When SSP hours are reduced, Deafblind people feel upset and frustrated. I suggest SSP services provide more hours per month. Remember: Deafblind citizens pay taxes. In return, government officials must provide some way of supporting these individuals. Deafblind gathering holds fundraisers, but it’s just not enough. Fundraising at Deaf events makes people feel good, but it’s really not enough. If the support isn’t in place, there is no effect. Deafblind feel deflated afterwards. Please understand! Thanks.