(TRENTON) – To help the hearing-impaired in New Jersey, Assembly Democrats Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson), Carol Murphy (D-Burlington), and Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) sponsor a three-bill package approved Thursday by the Assembly Human Services Committee to expand Medicaid Programs and enhance communication between law enforcement and the Deaf community.
“Our hearing-impaired residents experience daily struggles that require the need for prescribed devices, accessories, and services,” said Chiaravalloti, a sponsor of all three measures. “We have many resources and technologies available to help, but sometimes they can become costly. By expanding Medicaid coverage, we are able to increase access for the hearing-impaired to the services they need.”
Two of the bills, sponsored by Assembly members Chiaravalloti, Murphy and McKnight, (A-856) would require Medicaid programs to cover expenses for hearing aids and other assistive devices; and call for the Director of the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the Department of Human Services to evaluate and report on the interactions that are occurring between law enforcement and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing (A-870).
Assembly members Chiaravalloti and Murphy also sponsor the resolution (AR-35) encouraging law enforcement agencies to continue to provide training to officers on how to approach individuals who are hearing-impaired.
“Interaction between law enforcement and the hearing-impaired is one small part within the structure of current training programs,” said Assemblywoman Murphy. “A more comprehensive training program, focused exclusively on how to approach individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, could help to overcome the communication barriers between law enforcement officers and Deaf community.”
The New Jersey Department of Human Services stated that 850,000 people in New Jersey suffer from hearing loss. Greater access to hearing assessments and treatment along with evaluations and specific training programs for law enforcement will help.
“We can gain a better grasp on the communication process by reporting and evaluating the interactions between law enforcement and individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf,” said Assemblywoman McKnight. “This allows for situations to be assessed so action can be taken towards making the experience better for everyone involved.”