The Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (Commission) was established by Laws 1977, Chapter 171. At the time it was created, the organization was known as the Council for the Deaf. The name was changed to the Arizona Council for the Hearing Impaired in 1985. In 2000, the name changed again, to the Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. Statutory authority for the Commission is found at A.R.S. §§36-1941 through 36-1978.
The Commission provides services to the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and persons with speech difficulties, and works with state and local government agencies, as well as other public and private agencies to provide information and services. The Commission licenses American Sign Language interpreters and certifies American Sign Language teachers. The Commission also administers a program to provide telecommunications access for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind persons by providing assistive devices and a telephone relay service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Commission consists of 14 members, appointed by the Governor to three-year terms.
An omnibus measure addressing several issues related to public health and safety was introduced in 1977. Section 18 of the measure created the Council for the Deaf, consisting of ten members appointed by the Governor to four-year terms. The Council was required to provide services to the deaf, and to provide information on services, programs and activities to local government agencies and other public and private agencies. The Council was also required to develop a framework for cooperation and consultation with the Department of Economic Security (DES) and other state agencies represented on the Council; make recommendations to address problems and programs affecting deaf people; and submit an annual report to the Governor and Legislature. The Council office was located within the Rehabilitation Services Bureau of DES.
The Council was also required to maintain a register of deaf people in the state, based on reports from physicians who determined that a person was deaf. Information from the register was made available to certain entities for independent research purposes. The identity of the persons on the register could not be disclosed in the final research product without written consent of the person and the Council (A.R.S. §36-1944). See Laws 1977, Chapter 171.
Laws 1985, Chapter 35 required the Council to provide telecommunication devices and establish a dual party relay system to make telephone service available to the deaf and hard of hearing.
A second measure enacted in 1985 changed the name of the Council for the Deaf to the Arizona Council for the Hearing Impaired and increased the number of members to 13. The measure required the Council to review the need to amplify sound in public places and compile information on the development of acoustical technology. The requirement to maintain a register of deaf people in the state was repealed. See Laws 1985, Chapter 96.
Laws 1986, Chapter 95 authorized expenditures by the Council to purchase and repair telecommunication devices.
Laws 1989, Chapter 120 increased the number of members on the Council from 13 to 19, adding three members who were deaf and three members who were hard of hearing. The measure also authorized the Council to adopt rules establishing qualifications and certification standards for interpreters for the deaf.
Laws 2000, Chapter 98 changed the name from the Arizona Council for the Hearing Impaired to the Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. The measure also: changed the number of members of the Commission to 14; allowed members to be reappointed one time; changed the name of the Council’s Executive Secretary to the Commission Director; and added a requirement for the Commission to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding implementation of a statewide newborn child hearing loss screening program. In addition, the Commission was required to work on establishing interpreter training and degree programs; develop rules to certify sign language teachers; and effective September 1, 2007, to license interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Pursuant to Laws 2003, First Special Session, Chapter 2, the Commission pays for its general operations with monies from the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf Fund, and does not receive monies from the General Fund.
Arizona Revised Statutes §§36-1941 et. seq
Laws 1977, Chapter 171
Laws 1985, Chapter 35
Laws 1985, Chapter 96
Laws 1986, Chapter 95
Laws 1989, Chapter 120
Laws 2000, Chapter 98
Laws 2003, First Special Session, Chapter 2
Master List of State Government Programs, January 2015. Published by the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting. www.ospb.state.az.us
Related collections at Arizona State Archives
Record Group 171 – Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing