David Myers who has served for 18 years as Director of DARS, Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) and as Executive Director, Texas Commission for the Deaf has announced that he will retire on December 31, 2011. Among his most noteworthy accomplishments are the Resource Specialist Program that provides services statewide, the development of new BEI interpreter tests and development of Hispanic Trilingual interpreter tests, both in partnership with the University of Arizona.
In recent months he again partnered with the University of Arizona to obtain federal funding to develop deaf interpreter tests. Below is a listing of the accomplishments of David and his staff over the period of 1993-2011.
* Staff increased from 7 to the current 45, which includes 18 in the DHHS office, plus 27 full-time contracted staff providing services at locations throughout the state and budget increased by over 400% from a budget of a little over a million to over 4 million.
* Created a Hard of Hearing Program and established a Hearing Loss Specialist position to focus on the needs of hard of hearing and late deafened populations.
* Created a Trilingual Task Force to assess communication and services needs of the state’s Hispanic deaf and hard of hearing population and to focus on trilingual interpreting needs.
* Created a Hard of Hearing Task Force to assess and give input to the needs of the hard of hearing and late-deafened populations.
* Partnered with Texas PUC and with the deaf and hard of hearing communities to effect legislative enactment of the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program, a voucher program that provides assistance for eligible persons who need assistance for accessing the telephone systems. The program issued more than 27,000 vouchers in the past year.
* Created the Resource Specialist Program through the legislative budget process to provide outreach services statewide. The Program currently funds 14 Deafness Resource Specialists and 12 Hearing Loss Resource Specialist and 1 Transition Outreach Specialist through contracts with community partners.
* Created a Training and Education Program to coordinate and provide training and advocacy for deaf and hard of hearing consumers, their families, service providers, employers and government agencies. The activities of this program includes leadership training for deaf and hard of hearing adults and for youth groups.
* Created a funding mechanism and with the BEI Board initiated test development activities with the University of Arizona to develop new valid and reliable BEI interpreter certification tests. Two states, Michigan and Illinois, contract for use of these tests.
* Created a Court Interpreter Certification process through legislation that has enhanced equal access in the courts for the deaf and hard of hearing populations. Court Interpreter training is provided on a continuous basis.
* Created the Texas Interpreter Education Series in partnership with SWCID at Big Spring to annually offer week -long training for interpreters to upgrade their skills. This includes specialty training for ASL interpreters, Hispanic trilingual interpreters, and deaf interpreters.
* Created a team to partner with the University of Arizona to obtain federal grant funding for the Texas Trilingual Initiative, to develop the first-ever Hispanic trilingual interpreter certification tests.
* Created a team to partner with the University of Arizona to obtain federal grant funding for the Deaf Interpreter Certification Project which is
currently in the beginning stages of development.
* Maintained continuity of Camp Sign, a summer program for deaf and hard of hearing children now in its 30th year; continuation of the Senior Citizens Program that provides support for deaf and hard of hearing senior citizens projects in local communities statewide; and continuation of an expanding statewide program of interpreter services coordination for state agencies that has greatly enhances access to services for consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
To learn more about DARS-DHHS, go to http://www.dars.state.tx.us/dhhs/