Doc Marshall: Sen. Marshall Introduces Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act
Doc Marshall | July 19, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. co-sponsored the bipartisan Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) for five years. HKNC is the only national program that provides resources and support through rehabilitation and vocational training for the DeafBlind community. The HKNC Great Plains, located in Olathe, has an important presence in Kansas and services the deaf and blind community throughout Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska.
“I admire the important work that the Helen Keller National Center is doing to empower our deaf and blind community in Kansas and across the country. The HKNC does an excellent job providing crucial resources and services to help each member achieve their dreams,” Senator Marshall said. “Our bipartisan legislation reauthorizes these centers and provides much-needed certainty to the members of the HKNC.”
“For the hundreds of Kansans who have self-identified they are DeafBlind, the Helen Keller National Center can be a lifelong point of contact for information, resources, referral to services and support. This legislation provides much-needed support for HKNC and ensures that people throughout the country will continue to receive these quality services,” Beth Jordan, Regional Representative for the Great Plains Helen Keller National Center said.
“For over 50 years, the Helen Keller National Center has provided critical support services and resources to the DeafBlind community in New York and across the country,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues in this effort to reauthorize this vital center and ensure that members of the DeafBlind community continue to receive the support to fully participate in their communities.”
This legislation was led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the U.S. Senate and also introduced in the House of Representatives by Mark Pocan (D-WI-02) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02). Read the Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act here.
The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) is a national organization with centers throughout the country that was established by a unanimous act of Congress in 1967.
The HKNC is the only national program providing comprehensive vocational rehabilitation services to youth (16 and older), working-age adults and seniors (55 and older) with combined hearing and vision loss. They work together with people who are DeafBlind to achieve their goals and aspirations.
The original law and subsequent amendments authorized the HKNC through 2003. The authorization expired in 2003 and subsequent attempts to reauthorize it have not succeeded.
In the original bill it describes the purposes of the Center as follows:
1) To provide specialized intensive services for DeafBlind persons;
2) To train personnel to provide such services; and
3) To conduct applied research, development, and demonstrations relating to communication techniques, teaching methods, aids, and devices, and delivery of services.
In 2019, the American Community Survey (ACS) found 20,383 Kansans who have a dual hearing and vision loss.