AB 2072: A Seedling

The California bill AB 2072 has undergone a second reading and was recently passed as amended by an Assembly majority vote on August 2nd.

The bill has been determined a fiscal bill, meaning it will require an appropriation of funds, and has been referred to the senate appropriations committee.  The amended bill calls for a fund, called the Language and Communication for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children Fund.  This fund will be based on donations and perhaps federal funds to be placed in the State Treasury for the implementation of new sections 124121 and 124122, which AB 2072 will become if enacted, of the California Health and Safety Code.  No state funds will be used for this new law.  The appropriations committee is likely the source that will determine the amount required to implement the new law.

After this committee does the bill’s fiscal review, AB 2072 undergoes its third and final reading.  Whether it returns to the Assembly for its third reading or goes to the Senate floor is something I don’t know for certain, but we’ll know more after the committee review.

As one can read from the 8-2-2010 amended version, (strike-through’s are deletions, italics are additions to the language of the bill since the last 6-9-10 amendment), AB 2072 contains many changes but still retains its original intent:  to inform parents of deaf and hard of hearing newborns or infants of all options available,  “visual and auditory communication and language options”, as the new wording goes.

124121.  (a) The department shall develop an unbiased,
comprehensive, evidence-based informational pamphlet for newborns and
infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing about visual and
auditory communication and language options including, but not
limited to, American Sign Language (ASL), and Listening and Spoken
Language, that is sufficient to allow a parent to make an informed
decision on which options to choose for his or her child.

Note that “…including, but not limited to” means that the parents can choose one or more options.  Also note in that last sentence that the word “options” is in plural form.

ASL is not the only visual language used in this country, just as English is not the only spoken language in this country.  For example, an immigrant family may speak Spanish or sign SSL, Spanish sign language, as their primary language.  There are deaf Americans who sign PSE or SEE.  And then there’s spoken Spanglish, si?  😉

Take notice of the above phrase “…newborns and infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing”.  I recall that some ppl objected to newborns or infants as  “diagnosed with a hearing loss” as it connoted the medical view.

The words “informed decision” in that paragraph describes in a nutshell what this bill is all about.

The reference to “department” is the Dept. of Education.

To continue:

The pamphlet shall
contain both benefits and risks of all options, convey educational
attainment outcomes, and clearly convey that those options may be
used simultaneously.

There’s more meat to the pamphlet info, that realistic pro’s and con’s of each option need to be mentioned, the benchmarks at which a child should start to communicate spoken words or signs with family members, to grasp sentence grammar, syntax and context, to read and write,  and more advanced educational goals that a child should achieve at certain ages.  Lastly, options can be used simultaneously.  California sends notice to any oralist program that prohibits the use of ASL because of AVT that parents can indeed choose to allow the use of ASL with their implanted child, if that’s what they want for their child.   Just as deaf parents who use ASL at home can also choose a speech program for their hard of hearing or implanted child, if that’s what they want for their child.

The amended version stipulates that the informational pamphlet be presented to parents by:

(1) By an audiologist immediately upon identification of a newborn
or infant as deaf or hard of hearing.
   (2) By a local provider for the Early Start Program, provided for
pursuant to the California Early Intervention Services Act (Title 14
(commencing with Section 95000) of the Government Code) upon initial
contact with the parents of a newborn or infant newly identified as
deaf or hard of hearing.

Yup,  the audie’s still there, as is the Early Start provider as well.   The point here is to get info to the parents as soon as possible after the baby is identified as deaf or hard of hearing.  Any more time lost inevitably will lead to language delays.  Some newborns don’t get detected after birth for other reasons, such as home delivery or other situation, and this is where Early Start providers play a role in followup screening.

(c) (1) The department shall convene an advisory stakeholder panel
to contribute to the development of the informational pamphlet
required pursuant to subdivision (a).

This amended version will establish a panel of eleven members, of which the eleventh member is the Secretary of Education, an ex-officio member, to develop and revise the pamphlet when changes may become necessary.   The panel will consist of deaf/hh individuals, parents of deaf children, educators, non-profit organizations, and researchers who come from or study different communication modalities, both visual and spoken.  All ten members will be appointed, most by the Governor and two by the Speaker of the Assembly.   There is an even spread of both visual and spoken modalities among the panel members.

(4) The department and the panel shall consider written input and
information submitted by members of the general public in the
creation of the pamphlet

The amended version allows for public input in the pamphlet’s development as well.  How will the public find out about a specific address?  Through Dept. of Education’s website or other?

e) The pamphlet developed pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be
made available in Cantonese, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The
pamphlet developed pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be made
available on the department's Internet Web site and the
Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Board's Internet Web site.

California is home to a number of minorities, and it makes sense to convey the pamphlet info into several languages.   And that it be also conveyed on the Department of Education’s and the Audiology Board’s websites.  Many audies and Early Start providers have office computers/laptops that personnel can use to point to the info online as well as provide the printed version.  Some parents can refer to these websites on home computers at their leisure as well.

(f) (1) There is hereby created the Language and Communication for
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children Fund in the State Treasury. The
fund shall contain donations that have been collected and deposited
for the purposes of this section, as well as any federal funds made
available for purposes of this section.

And also:

(3) No moneys shall be expended from the fund until the Director
of Finance determines that sufficient money is in the fund to
implement this section.

A fund will be established for the purpose of implementing this bill if enacted into law.   The amended version stipulates that no state funds will be used and that the fund is to come from donations and possibly federal funds.   The money cannot be released until it is determined that there is enough to meet the appropriations required for the fund.

As I understand it, the panel has to be formed within the next year (2011) and commence operations by Jan. 1, 2012, (assuming that AB 2072 passes this year and gets signed by the Governator by Sept. 30th)  meaning there is one year during which to build this fund.   How will donations be solicited, through fund-raisers, or what? And donations from whom? Would entities/corporations that represent different communication modalities be acceptable donors?  What happens if the fund’s amount isn’t met in time?  Back to square one?

The panel, once it commences operation, has 6 months to submit recommendations on the pamphlet’s development.   I suppose that since the bill specifies that panel members don’t get renumeration, but do get their travel expenses covered, that some of the appropriations will have to cover this minor detail as well.  Multiply that by 10x, ten ppl, that is, then multiply that by the number of meetings per year ’til 2017, when the panel’s term ends.

The start of a seedling, folks.  I know that some of you readers have been opposed to this bill due to the bill’s language and sponsorship.  But the sponsors of this bill have come around to see your side and included some of the things, if not every thing, that the opponents have requested to be included in this bill.

The supporters got some of what they wanted, full disclosure of info on all options  and immediately upon identification for the parents to make an informed decision, not later down the road at 18 months, which is today’s typical “discovery” period.  With full disclosure, there are no surprises later down the road about discovery of other options and that eliminates bias either on the part of the audiologist or Early Start providers or the Dept. of Education.

The opponents got some of what they wanted, less of the medical view’s terminology and more emphasis on language acquisition for the infant as well as the Dept. of Education instead of the Dept. of Health Care Services as the source of info, and a pamphlet that will reflect a realistic balance of visual and spoken modalities, the pro’s and con’s of each option, and educational goals for the growing child.

Gardeners say that some hybrids grow into better, stronger, or pest-resistant plants.   AB 2072 may become that kind of hybrid, for the deaf community’s future.

Give it plenty of water and the right nutrients in the soil, as green thumbs say.  😉


Update:  Senate appropriations committee meets every Monday, meaning the next meeting will be on Aug. 9th.  And the last day for the fiscal committees to report a bill to the Floor will be Aug. 13th.  The California legislature will be in session for the last time this year from Aug. 16-31 before it goes into final recess.


6 Responses to “AB 2072: A Seedling”

  1. theholism Says:

    Thank you for the update. From what I’ve read they did not throw out the entire bill and draft a new one like the opponent side claimed. I’m happy with how it’s been structured so far and am glad they decided to stick to visual language instead of giving it all away to American Sign Language.

  2. Karen Mayes Says:

    Good posting, thanks for keeping us posted. I think it’s a good idea that the bill kept “options” in it… so that parents would not feel limited.

  3. Candy Says:

    I think this amended bill is fair and am befuddled as to why the opposition still oppose this bill. I have not been able to check out their latest points on why they oppose it still… As soon as I get to the hotel in SLC, I will check it out. In the meantime, a compromise as a result of collaboration that involves consideration of all communication and language is the way to go! Good post, Ann.

  4. Candy Says:

    I got a chance to watch that video by Jim Brune over at OpposeAB2072 site. First off, from a couple of emails I got regarding “Didn’t the opposition say they won?!” Yes, they did. Kind of ironic and speaking of manipulations they have accused other organizations of, they’re no better themselves. 😉 Second off, their lobbyist succeeded in pulling that bill from going to the Senate floor and it was moved over to appropriations. I see this as a stalling tactic in hopes that the bill will die on the opposition’s part. Now, if the brochure is supposed to be funded by donations and there is no cost to the state, then I do see the bill returning to the Senate floor for a vote. Unless there is more going on that covers the appropriations part, do correct me. I don’t see how it is possible that the bill will end up in suspense and die out, do you? Anyone?

  5. Karen Mayes Says:

    Honestly, Candy, I no longer give a darn about AB2072, because it will make sure that parents will be presented “all” options for their newly diagnosed babies/toddlers. I am just enjoying this summer now. 😉

  6. Richard Roehm Says:

    This historic opportunity is known as Assembly Bill 2072 by Assemblymember Tony Mendoza that changes the way deaf babies are handled once they’re determined through the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs.

    As civilization evolves and advances, the communities within advances as well. Not all communities are willing to advance with civilization. The sign language based deaf community is one of them. They may seem to advance with technology, but they remain in a medieval state of mind that still believe in staying dependent on taxpayers and living in a closed society.

    The costs of maintaining a dependency based deaf community is enormous. Theresa Bugler wrote in the lifestyles magazine that it costs $800,000 to teach a deaf child sign language. The costs go beyond the $800,000 when taxpayers has to pay for their interpreters in their schools, pay for their videophones in their homes, and finally pay for their living expenses for the rest of their lives because they usually end up not working. Modern Deaf Communication has determined that deaf people who routinely use videophones have a lower job occurrence in the deaf society.

    Given these times when California is strained financially, it pays more to create a new deaf community that does not end up as dependents on society as we’ve seen they have become and does not end up as a drain on the taxpayers.

    It pays more to give the parents the options on how their deaf babies are to be raised. Lets return the deaf babies back to the soft warm loving arms of their parents instead shipping them off to the hard cold crab claws of a closed deaf society.

    It has been proven many times over through deaf video blogging websites such as deafvideo.tv, justdeaf.com, aslrocks.net, jdeaf.com, deafcube.com, and also seen in facebook.com, tokbox.com, and many other video sharing websites that the closed deaf society do not care about their members. There is never ending infighting over picky issues, misconceptions, and misunderstandings. Speaking of which, a well known deaf entrepreneur recently recruited a deaf college professor to preach hatred under the misunderstood guise of combating hate crimes against deaf people. Many deaf members oftentimes have to go through painstaking gauntlets of litmus testing because most members of the dependent deaf society seek “the purity within” by weeding out those that are determined not deaf enough physically and literally.

    Should we as a responsible society be sending the deaf babies out this way? NO!

    Do parents need to sacrifice their deaf babies to the dependent deaf society as it is? NO!

    Parents need to have a strong say on how their deaf babies are to be raised and lets give them that opportunity by supporting and passing AB 2072.

    Lets return the deaf babies back to the soft warm loving arms of their parents.

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