Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 51.5. Persons with Disabilities
8/6/2020

Chapter 13. Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.

§ 51.5-106. Board established; appointment, terms and qualifications of members; meetings; chairman.

There is hereby continued an Advisory Board, hereinafter referred to as the Board, for the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.

The Board shall be composed of nine members appointed by the Governor as follows:

Four representatives of deafness-oriented professions concerned with the health, education, rehabilitation, mental health and welfare of the deaf and hard-of-hearing; four citizens who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; and one member who is a parent of a child who is deaf or hard-of-hearing. Appointments shall be for terms of four years. No person shall be eligible to serve more than two successive terms, except that a person appointed to fill a vacancy may serve two additional successive four-year terms. The Board shall meet at the call of the Chairman, who shall be selected by the Board from among its membership, but no less than four times a year.

1984, c. 670, § 63.1-85.1:1; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-107. Powers and duties of Board.

The Board shall have the following powers and duties:

1. To ensure the development of long-range programs and plans provided by the state and local governments for Virginians who are deaf or hard-of-hearing;

2. To review and comment on all budgets and requests for appropriations for the Department prior to their submission to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Governor and on all applications for federal funds; and

3. To advise the Governor, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Director and the General Assembly on matters related to Virginians who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

1984, c. 670, § 63.1-85.1:3; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-108. Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing continued.

The Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing is continued. The Department shall be in the executive branch of the state government and shall be assigned to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

1984, c. 670, § 63.1-85.1:2; 1985, c. 447; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-109. Director; appointment; compensation; qualifications.

The Governor shall appoint a Director of the Department who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and shall be paid such compensation as the Governor may fix.

The Director may be either a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing or one with normal hearing, but shall be a trained professional who is experienced in problems of the deaf and hard-of-hearing and skilled in the use of manual communication, commonly referred to as sign language.

1972, c. 543, § 63.1-85.2; 1978, c. 603; 1983, c. 440; 1984, c. 670; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-110. Powers and duties of Director.

A. The Director shall have the following duties and powers:

1. To supervise the administration of the Department;

2. To prepare, approve, and submit all requests for appropriations and be responsible for all expenditures pursuant to appropriations;

3. To employ such personnel as may be required to carry out the purposes of this chapter;

4. To make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of the Department's duties and the execution of its powers under this chapter, including, but not limited to, contracts with the United States, other states, and agencies and governmental subdivisions of Virginia; and

5. To accept grants from the United States government and agencies and instrumentalities thereof and any other source. To these ends, the Director shall have the power to comply with such conditions and execute such agreements as may be necessary, convenient or desirable.

B. To effectuate the purposes of this chapter, the Director may request from any department, division, board, commission or other agency and the same shall provide such information, assistance and cooperation as will enable the Director properly to exercise his powers and perform his duties hereunder.

1983, c. 440, § 63.1-85.2:1; 1984, c. 670; 1985, c. 397; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-111. Persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing defined and categorized.

For the purposes of this chapter, persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing include those who experience hearing losses that range from a mild hearing loss to a profound hearing loss. They are categorized as follows:

1. Persons who are deaf are those whose hearing is totally impaired or whose hearing, with or without amplification, is so seriously impaired that the primary means of receiving spoken communication is through visual input such as lip-reading, sign language, finger spelling, reading or writing.

2. Persons who are hard-of-hearing are those whose hearing is impaired to an extent that makes hearing difficult but does not preclude the understanding of spoken communication through the ear alone, with or without a hearing aid.

1984, c. 670, § 63.1-85.3:1; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-112. Powers and duties of Department.

The Department shall have the following powers and duties:

1. To develop a program to inform persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and the public of opportunities available for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to fulfill their needs and solve certain problems through existing state and local services and to make available such other information as would be of value to families, professionals and other citizens working or involved in the deafness field;

2. To promote a framework for consultation and cooperation among the state agencies and institutions serving persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing;

3. To aid in the provision of technical assistance and training within the Commonwealth in order to support efforts to initiate or improve programs and services for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing;

4. To evaluate state programs that deliver services to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to determine their effectiveness and to make recommendations to the appropriate government officials concerning the future financial support and continuation of such programs and the establishment of the new ones;

5. To monitor state programs delivering services to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to determine the extent to which services promised or mandated are delivered;

6. To make appropriate recommendations for legislative changes to the Governor and General Assembly and to follow and evaluate federal legislation having a potential impact upon persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing who live in the Commonwealth;

7. To cooperate with schools for the deaf as provided in Chapter 19 (§ 22.1-346 et seq.) of Title 22.1 insofar as may be practicable;

8. To operate a program of technology assistance and services to encourage independence of persons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech impaired, including the distribution of devices for the deaf and support of message relay services, through grants, contracts and other means, including a sliding fee scale where appropriate; and

9. To adopt such regulations, consistent with this chapter, as may be necessary to carry out the purpose and intent of this chapter and other laws of the Commonwealth administered by the Director or the Department. Such regulations shall be binding on all officers, agents, and employees engaged in implementing the provisions of this chapter.

1972, c. 543, § 63.1-85.4; 1977, c. 668; 1983, c. 440; 1984, cc. 670, 734; 1988, c. 93; 1996, c. 471; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-113. Statewide interpreter service.

The Department is authorized to establish, maintain and coordinate a statewide service to provide courts, state and local legislative bodies and agencies, both public and private, and persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing who request the same with qualified interpreters for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing out of such funds as may be appropriated to the Department for these purposes.

Those courts and state and local agencies that have funds designated to employ qualified interpreters shall pay for the actual cost of such interpreter. The Department is further authorized to establish and maintain lists of qualified interpreters for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to be available to the courts, state and local legislative bodies and agencies, both public and private, and to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The Department is authorized to charge a reasonable fee for the administration of quality assurance screening of interpreters. Such fees shall be applied to the costs of administering the statewide interpreter service.

For purposes of this section, a qualified interpreter shall be one who holds at least one of the following credentials:

1. Certification from any national organization whose certification process has been recognized by the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing; or

2. A current screening level awarded by the Virginia Quality Assurance Screening Program of the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing; or

3. A screening level or recognized evaluation from any other state when (i) the credentials meet the minimum requirements of Virginia Quality Assurance Screening and (ii) the credentials are valid and current in the state issued.

1978, c. 603, § 63.1-85.4:1; 1984, c. 670; 1990, c. 192; 1992, c. 614; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-114. Gifts and donations; disposition of moneys received.

The Department is authorized to receive such gifts and donations, either from public or private sources, as may be offered unconditionally or under such conditions as in the judgment of the Department are proper and consistent with this chapter. All moneys received as gifts or donations or state appropriations shall be deposited in the state treasury to be used by the Department to defray expenses in performing its duties. A full report of all gifts and donations accepted, together with the names of the donors and the respective amounts contributed by each, and all disbursements therefrom, shall be submitted annually to the Governor by the Department.

1972, c. 543, § 63.1-85.7; 1984, c. 670; 2002, c. 747.

§ 51.5-115. Telecommunications relay service; standards; funding.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise, the term:

"Operation" means those functions reasonably and directly necessary for the provision of telecommunications relay service, including contract procurement and administration and public education and information regarding telecommunications relay service.

"Telecommunications relay service" means a facility whereby a person who has a hearing or speech disability using a text telephone and a person using a conventional telephone device can communicate with each other via telephone.

"VITA" means the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.

"Voice carry over" means technology that will enable a deaf or hard-of-hearing person with good speech to use his voice, instead of the text telephone, to communicate back to the hearing person.

B. The Department, with the assistance of VITA, shall be responsible for the provision and operation of telecommunications relay service for all text telephones within the Commonwealth. Telecommunications relay service shall include at a minimum:

1. Twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week statewide access with no limitations or restrictions that are not applicable to voice users of the telephone network;

2. An answer rate that ensures that at least 85% of the incoming calls are operator-answered within 20 seconds and at least 99% of incoming calls are answered within 60 seconds;

3. Technological advances, including the capability of voice carryover; and

4. Adequate facilities and personnel to ensure that calls are interpreted accurately; notwithstanding this provision, unless miscommunication on a call is caused by the willful misconduct of the telecommunications relay service provider, liability of the telecommunications relay service provider shall be limited to the charges imposed on users for the call.

C. All costs associated with the establishment and operation of the telecommunications relay service, including but not limited to personnel costs incurred by the Department for administering the service, shall be funded through a distribution made to the Department in accordance with the provisions of § 58.1-662 and any money transferred from the Department as provided for in subsection D. Such distributions, when appropriate, may be zero. The distributions shall be based on projected costs and special interim distributions may be made if actual costs exceed projections. No distribution shall be made and no funds shall be expended to support any activities that are not reasonably and directly necessary for the operation of the telecommunications relay service as defined in this section.

D. The Department shall transfer any funds received from the National Exchange Carrier Association, or other funding sources for purposes of operating telecommunications relay services, to VITA for costs associated with telecommunications relay service.

2006, c. 780.

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