UPDATE ON SB 354 and HB 3253 – CALL TO ACTION

CHS parents, alumni and supporters, we need you! On March 7, 2017, HB 3253 was filed in the Texas House of Representatives as a companion bill to SB 354.

There have been several versions of the legislation since it was filed in December by Senator Kirk Watson and the newest version of the bill has not been shared with us yet.  However, based on the information we have been provided, we continue to strongly oppose SB 354 and HB 3253 as they do not represent nor benefit deaf and hard of hearing children (DHH) who listen and speak.  Furthermore, the bills do not address two of the main issues among children with hearing loss: the 52% loss to follow-up in Texas after a baby fails a newborn screening, and the lack of a standardized and unbiased communications consultation for parents after a child is identified with a hearing loss. 

 

SB 354 and CALL TO ACTION

SB 354 has been referred to the Education Committee but has not been scheduled for a hearing yet.  Senator Watson’s office is working on a new version of the bill, but from our understanding, the new version does not address our concerns.

What can you do to help?

  1. Call Senator Larry Taylor and express your opposition to SB 354. You can also email or send a letter, but a phone call to his office is crucial.
  1. Call, email and write a letter to the other members of the Senate Education Committee to express your opposition to SB 354.
    • Note: If you live in the same district as one of the members, please also try to schedule an in-person meeting with them at their local District Office.
Chair: Sen. Larry Taylor
Vice Chair:   Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.
Members:  Sen. Paul Bettencourt
  Sen. Donna Campbell
  Sen. Bob Hall
  Sen. Don Huffines
  Sen. Bryan Hughes
  Sen. Kel Seliger
  Sen. Van Taylor
  Sen. Carlos Uresti
  Sen. Royce West

3.  Meet with Senator Taylor. Read our tips for personal visits here.

 

HB 3253 and CALL TO ACTION

HB 3253 was filed on March 7 by Representative Joe Deshotel who represents the Beaumont/Port Arthur area.  This bill has not been referred to a committee but we assume it will be referred to the Public Education Committee in the coming days. 

What can you do to help?

  1. Call Representative Joe Deshotel and express your opposition to HB 3253. You can also email or send a letter, but a phone call to his office is crucial.
  1. Call, email and write a letter to Representative Dan Huberty, Chair of the House Committee on Public Education.
  2. Meet with Representative Deshotel. Read our tips for personal visits here.

 

Talking Points To Oppose Legislation:

  • Overall, the legislation is heavily biased in favor of ASL and does not demonstrate a balanced solution to improve kindergarten readiness for ALL DHH children.
  • The legislation defines hearing loss at 20dB in one or both ears, which classifies a far greater number of children as disabled and subject to quarterly assessments.
  • The legislation uses the term “English” and never the term “spoken language.” This is concerning in a broad sense as it fails to clearly support the listening and spoken language approach. Also, by using “English” there is a good possibility a child’s native language will not be respected if they do not speak English in the home.
  • The composition of the committee responsible for developing and choosing assessments and making recommendations for DHH children is biased towards ASL and does not include representatives from every communication method.
  • The legislation includes setting up a database to track developmental milestones for children in each language to be used for analysis and future legislation. The proposed data collection is very subjective, and will not include children in private pre-schools and elementary schools.  Furthermore, it will only collect information on age of identification and not age of hearing aid or CI amplification, important factors when determining success in listening and spoken language.

 

It is important for us to educate our supporters and the public on Lead-K’s true intentions behind this legislation and future plans.  Below is a screenshot of their “About Us” page on their website:  

This is why we categorically oppose both of the bills, and any legislation that does not represent ALL children with hearing loss and their chosen mode of communication.