Graduate project

The development of a state service program for the deaf population in Illinois

It is essential that the hearing-impaired population of Illinois have equal access to the human service delivery network, Results from this study identifies a need for leadership to implement a State Service Program for the Deaf. Nationally, there are sixteen State Commissions on Deafness, all of which were established through their state's legislature. They function as central state level offices which provide vital information, consultation, direct service, advocacy and public awareness to lift communication barriers confronting hearing- impaired people. Another national trend is Vocational Rehabilitation's establishment of separately administered service programs for the deaf. This study recommends that a State Service Program for the Deaf be administratively established within the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). DORS is the only cabinet level rehabilitation program in the country, providing a full continuum of services to disabled persons of all ages. Utilization of optimal features from other state programs would allow Illinois to establish a model State Service Deaf Program. Successful implementation of such a program include the following recommendations: 1) a program separately administered at the highest organizational level; 2) an administrator accountable for service planning and delivery; 3) an identifiable budget; 4) a direct line of communication to the director of DORS; 5) supervision of deaf rehabilitation programs and services; and 6) a voice in making policy.