Open Letter From the Consumer Advisory Council of HKNC


In this open letter, Consumer Advisory Council members highlight their work with the Helen Keller National Center.


Jill Gaus, CAC Chair

Open Letter From the Consumer Advisory Council of HKNC        

            The Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) was established to work in partnership with the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth and Adults (HKNC) to assist in the development and implementation of policies and programs to provide increased options to consumers who are DeafBlind.  Established in 2014, the CAC members are all DeafBlind and are elected for a 4-year term. Only elected CAC members may participate in decision making and voting on matters related to the Council and its advisory work for HKNC.

            The CAC holds an annual Council meeting at HKNC headquarters in Sands Point, NY. In addition, CAC members hold follow-up conference calls several times a year to discuss progress on agenda items, as well as new developments that occur when the Council is not in session. Since its initial meeting, CAC has made recommendations addressing HKNC programs and services. CAC had also guided HKNC in developing policies and procedures that affect both employees and consumers. Some of the highlights of our work include the following:

  • A Cultural Diversity committee was established to insure that HKNC is a culturally sensitive learning center that is responsive to the diverse student and staff communities.   Several workshops were held.
  • Developed a Grievance Procedure that allows for a fair and effective resolution of self-directed consumer grievances.
  • Created a new Code of Conduct that promotes respect for all and a commitment to excellence.
  • Reviewed and approved a Communication Policy Statement, which aims to promote effective communication within the Center that recognizes diverse communication preferences in the DeafBlind community.
  • Made recommendations for enhancing HKNC’s website, especially in the area of outreach to the wider community.
  • Created opportunities for internships at HKNC, particularly for those who are DeafBlind.
  • Created increased opportunities to some programs and services, including the Residence Hall with CAC’s collaborative guidance. 

            We look forward to continued partnership in sharing exemplary approaches and best practices with the HKNC student body and leadership team. If you have questions or comments about the Council, please feel free to contact Jill Gaus, Chair, at   We welcome your questions or comments.

Sincerely,  Jill Gaus, CAC Chair

Dr. Francis Casale, Member

Mussie Gebre, Member

Lynn Jansen, Member

Chris Sence, Member

Julie Somers, Member   


January 2016  



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