COLUMBUS, OH – Columbus Speech & Hearing (CSH), central Ohio’s premier nonprofit for speech-language and audiology services, recently announced that it is expanding services across the state for its Support Service Provider (SSP) program for DeafBlind adults. The expansion is made possible through funding from the Ohio General Assembly allocated in the 2024-2025 Biennial Budget.
As the only SSP Program in the state, CSH is opening an application process to DeafBlind individuals who are interested in receiving these specialized services. With the new SSP Pilot Program, 10 Ohioans with severe combined vision and hearing loss will be able to receive SSP support.
“We’re proud to offer an SSP Pilot Program to the DeafBlind community, but there is a great need in our state for more services like ours,” said James O. Dye, president and CEO of CSH. “The combination of visual and hearing loss can be quite isolating and the goal of SSP services is to bridge the gap between those who are DeafBlind and the world around them that isn’t necessarily designed to accommodate this condition. It’s our hope that we continue the expansion of our SSP services so more Ohioans with severe combined vision and hearing loss can remain independent in their day-to-day lives.”
As people are living longer, there has been a rise in those experiencing combined vision and hearing loss, and CSH anticipates an increased need for DeafBlind support services. SSPs are trained professionals who provide visual and auditory information to provide access to person’s environment as well as communication facilitators. These services allow DeafBlind individuals to maintain independence, empowering them with access outside of their homes and enabling them to engage in their Ohio communities. SSP Services offered by CSH reduce isolation and increase independence, benefiting the health and well-being of those within the DeafBlind community.
The SSP Pilot Program is administered by CSH and guided by an SSP Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of the following leaders: Julia Felts, program manager at CSH; Dawn Watts, SSP statewide coordinator at CSH; John Filek, representative from Helen Keller National Center; and individuals who represent the diverse perspectives of the DeafBlind community in Ohio, including Donna Schultz, Terry Blosser and Art Roehrig.
DeafBlind individuals and representatives from the Helen Keller National Center were involved in establishing program guidelines, including determining eligibility criteria. In order to be eligible for services from the SSP Pilot Program at CSH, an individual must:
· Be a permanent Ohio resident;
· Be 18 or older and not covered by an Individual Education Plan (IEP) through a school system;
· Meet the DeafBlind Eligibility criteria;
· Meet the funding and service criteria;
· Have an ability to be self-determining; and
· Be a willing participant in evidence-based, university questionnaires to help grow and improve the SSP program.
“We’re thrilled and extremely grateful to the Ohio General Assembly for awarding our nonprofit organization these funds,” said Felts. “There is a lack of programs to support DeafBlind individuals in our community, and the approval of this money marks a significant step toward recognizing the rights of DeafBlind individuals to access the world on their terms. We are deeply honored to be named the provider of choice by the DeafBlind individuals and advocates who were involved in the grassroots efforts in petitioning for these funds.”
For more information about the SSP Statewide Pilot Program and how to apply for these services or to become a Support Service Provider email email@example.com. To support the SSP program to ensure more DeafBlind individuals can receive these services, donate now at ColumbusSpeech.org/donate/.
About Columbus Speech & Hearing:
For 100 years, Columbus Speech & Hearing has been the leading nonprofit serving the communication needs of central Ohio. By remaining focused on its mission to help all people improve communication and independence, CSH raises awareness of speech and hearing challenges throughout the Columbus community and surrounding areas. CSH has offices in Clintonville, Dublin and Westerville.