For Immediate Release
January 11, 2021
Pittsburgh, PA – January 11, 2021 – Emergency state funding granted to the PA Office for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (ODHH) will allow Support Service Provider (SSP) services to continue across the state. ODHH will make this happen by working with Deaf Stone Services, Inc to provide services to Western PA and with Keystone Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services (formerly Berks Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services) for Eastern PA. Both agencies are nonprofit organizations.
A SSP is a specially trained individual who provides access to the community for people who are DeafBlind or Hard of Hearing with vision loss. SSPs guide and provide visual and environmental information so the DeafBlind or Hard of Hearing individual with vision loss can make their own informed decisions. Without a SSP program, DeafBlind or Hard of Hearing individuals with vision loss can be isolated, suffer from depression, and not have the same opportunities as others to participate in their community, society and even their own lives. Some examples of when an SSP is used are to read mail, go grocery shopping, getting a haircut, going to the bank, shopping for clothes, recreation activities, attending events, and so much more.
Starting the week of January 11, 2021 DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing individuals with vision loss will receive information from DeafStone Services (west) or Keystone Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services (east) in order to register with either agency based on location. Those individuals will then be eligible to receive up to 10 hours of SSP services each month. SSPs will also be contacted to register with either agency. If you do not receive information directly from either agency, please reach out so they can see if you qualify to receive hours.
This funding became available thanks to consumers speaking up and sharing their personal stories. It was also thanks to the ongoing efforts of advocacy groups, agencies, organizations, and government representatives from local to state level. This temporary funding is only one small step toward the goal of permanent funding within the state budget. Thank you to all involved!
For more information:
Jessica Adams, COO
DeafStone Services, Inc.
Lori Fisher, Director of Client Services
Keystone Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services