The Maryland Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing was established in October 2001 through legislation (Chapter 537 of the Acts of the 2001 General Assembly). In accordance with the State Government Article, section 9-2407 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the office promotes the general welfare of Deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Maryland by addressing policy gaps, providing expertise related to Deaf and hard of hearing issues, and facilitating the ability to access resources and services.
The Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hard of Hearing represents the Governor and his goal of promoting equal and full access for all Marylanders by providing expertise that enhances the general welfare of Maryland’s Deaf and hard of hearing residents.
All Maryland citizens who are Deaf or hard of hearing will have equal and full access to resources, services, and opportunities for participation in all aspects of community life.
History of the Office
Numerous studies, temporary commissions, and advisory committees in Maryland over the past thirty years had consistently identified the same recurring issues related to Deaf and hard of hearing constituents from 1966 to 2001. The Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing finally became a reality from the collaborative efforts of Maryland Association of the Deaf along with various local organizations serving Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. In October 2001, the Maryland General Assembly recognized the need for the creation of the Office to serve Maryland’s Deaf and hard of hearing individuals through enabling legislation.
Maryland became the 32nd state in the United States to have a separate state entity geared specifically towards the needs of Deaf and hard of hearing citizens within the state. Additionally, Maryland is the only state that has an office that reports directly to the Governor rather than adhering to a Commission or Board structure in which the director reports to an entity that provides oversight.
Responsibilities of the Office
The Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a policy coordination office of the Governor that is focused on advocating and coordinating the adoption of public policies, regulations, and programs.
The current policy priorities of the office includes the following:
- Expansion of the Deaf Ecosystem to support current and aspiring Deaf and hard of hearing business owners in the aim of increasing economic empowerment by reducing underemployment and unemployment.
- Development of a policy framework to address fraudulent and unqualified interpreters in the state.
- Collaboration with state services, agencies, and programs to improve efficiency and quality of services.
Statute Establishing the Office