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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

CHAPTER 256C. DISABLED PERSONS

Table of Sections
SectionHeadnote
256C.001APPLICATION OF LAWS 2005, CHAPTER 56, TERMINOLOGY CHANGES.

BLIND PERSONS

256C.01POSITION OF THE STATE WITH REGARD TO THE BLIND AND DISABLED.
256C.02PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.
256C.025HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS.
256C.03BLIND OR DEAF PEDESTRIANS; CIVIL LIABILITY.
256C.04PROCLAMATION BY GOVERNOR.
256C.05CRIMINAL PENALTY.
256C.06CITATION.

HEARING IMPAIRED PERSONS

256C.21DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING SERVICES ACT; CITATION.
256C.22Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7
256C.23DEFINITIONS.
256C.233DUTIES OF STATE AGENCIES.
256C.24REGIONAL SERVICE CENTERS.
256C.25INTERPRETER SERVICES.
256C.26EMPLOYMENT SERVICES.
256C.261256C.261 SERVICES FOR DEAF-BLIND PERSONS.
256C.27Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7
256C.28COMMISSION SERVING DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE.
256C.29COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES REQUIRED IN BUS TERMINALS.
256C.30DUTIES OF HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSIONER.
256C.001 APPLICATION OF LAWS 2005, CHAPTER 56, TERMINOLOGY CHANGES.
State agencies shall use the terminology changes specified in Laws 2005, chapter 56, section
1, when printed material and signage are replaced and new printed material and signage are
obtained. State agencies do not have to replace existing printed material and signage to comply
with Laws 2005, chapter 56, sections 1 and 2. Language changes made according to Laws 2005,
chapter 56, sections 1 and 2, shall not expand or exclude eligibility to services.
History: 2005 c 56 s 3

BLIND PERSONS

256C.01 POSITION OF THE STATE WITH REGARD TO THE BLIND AND DISABLED.
The state of Minnesota shall encourage and enable the blind, the visually disabled, and the
otherwise physically disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state
and to engage in remunerative employment. The blind, the visually disabled, and the otherwise
physically disabled shall be employed by the state, its political subdivisions, the public schools,
and in all other employment supported in whole or in part by public funds on the same terms
and conditions as the able-bodied, unless it is shown that the particular disability prevents the
performance of the work involved.
History: 1969 c 900 s 1; 1971 c 70 s 3; 2005 c 56 s 1
256C.02 PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.
The blind, the visually disabled, and the otherwise physically disabled have the same
right as the able-bodied to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways,
public buildings, public facilities, and other public places; and are entitled to full and equal
accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor
vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, boats, or any other public conveyances or modes of
transportation, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and
other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations
established by law and applicable alike to all persons.
Every totally or partially blind, physically disabled, or deaf person or any person training
a dog to be a service dog shall have the right to be accompanied by a service dog in any of the
places listed in section 363A.19. The person shall be liable for any damage done to the premises
or facilities by such dog. The service dog must be capable of being properly identified as from a
recognized school for seeing eye, hearing ear, service, or guide dogs.
History: 1969 c 900 s 2; 1977 c 247 s 1; 1984 c 655 art 1 s 42; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 141
s 1; 1989 c 108 s 1; 2005 c 56 s 1
256C.025 HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS.
    Subdivision 1. Full and equal access. Blind persons, visually disabled persons, and other
physically disabled persons shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the
general public, to all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or compensation, subject to
the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.
    Subd. 2. Definition. "Housing accommodations" means any real property, or portion thereof,
which is used or occupied or is intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied, as the
home, residence or sleeping place of one or more human beings, but shall not include any single
family residence the occupants of which rent, lease, or furnish for compensation not more than
one room therein.
    Subd. 3. Limitation on property provision. Nothing in this section shall require any person
renting, leasing, or providing for compensation real property to modify the property in any way or
provide a higher degree of care for a blind person, visually disabled person, or other physically
disabled person than for a person who is not physically disabled.
    Subd. 4. Service dog. Every totally or partially blind, physically disabled, or deaf person
who has a service dog, or who obtains a service dog, shall be entitled to full and equal access
to all housing accommodations provided for in this section, and shall not be required to pay
extra compensation for such service dog but shall be liable for any damage done to the premises
by such service dog.
History: 1971 c 70 s 1; 1977 c 247 s 2; 1986 c 444; 1988 c 637 s 1; 2005 c 56 s 1
256C.03 BLIND OR DEAF PEDESTRIANS; CIVIL LIABILITY.
The driver of a vehicle approaching a totally or partially blind pedestrian who is carrying a
cane predominantly white or metallic in color, with or without a red tip, or using a service dog, or
totally or partially deaf person with a service dog identified with a burnt orange collar or leash,
shall bring such vehicle to a stop and give the right-of-way at any intersection of any street,
avenue, alley, or other public highway to such blind or deaf pedestrian.
History: 1969 c 900 s 3; 1971 c 70 s 4; 1977 c 247 s 3; 1988 c 637 s 2
256C.04 PROCLAMATION BY GOVERNOR.
Each year, the governor may take suitable public notice of October 15 as white cane safety
day and may issue a proclamation in which the governor:
(1) comments upon the significance of the white cane,
(2) calls upon the citizens of the state to observe the provisions of the White Cane Law and
to take precautions necessary to the safety of the disabled,
(3) reminds the citizens of the state of the policies with respect to the disabled herein
declared and urges the citizens to cooperate in giving effect to them, and
(4) emphasizes the need of the citizens to be aware of the presence of disabled persons in
the community and to keep safe and functional for the disabled the streets, highways, sidewalks,
walkways, public buildings, public facilities, other public places, places of public accommodation,
amusement and resort, and other places to which the public is invited, and to offer assistance to
disabled persons upon appropriate occasions.
History: 1969 c 900 s 4; 1986 c 444
256C.05 CRIMINAL PENALTY.
Any person, or the agent of any person, firm, or corporation who denies or interferes with
admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities enumerated in section 256C.02 or housing
accommodations contrary to section 256C.025, or otherwise interferes with the rights of a
totally or partially blind or otherwise disabled person under section 256C.02 shall be guilty of
a misdemeanor.
History: 1969 c 900 s 5; 1971 c 70 s 5
256C.06 CITATION.
Sections 256C.01 to 256C.06 shall be known and may be cited the "Minnesota White Cane
Law."
History: 1969 c 900 s 6; 1971 c 70 s 6

HEARING IMPAIRED PERSONS

256C.21 DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING SERVICES ACT; CITATION.
Sections 256C.21 to 256C.26 may be cited as the "Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Act."
History: 1980 c 574 s 1; 1993 c 306 s 7; 1999 c 159 s 54
256C.22 [Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7]
256C.23 DEFINITIONS.
    Subdivision 1. Scope. For the purposes of sections 256C.21 to 256C.26, the terms defined in
this section shall have the meanings given them, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
    Subd. 2. Deaf. "Deaf" means a hearing loss of such severity that the individual must depend
primarily on visual communication such as writing, lip reading, manual communication, and
gestures.
    Subd. 2a. Hard-of-hearing. "Hard-of-hearing" means a hearing loss resulting in a functional
loss of hearing, but not to the extent that the individual must depend primarily upon visual
communication.
    Subd. 2b. Deaf-blind. "Deaf-blind" means any combination of vision and hearing loss which
interferes with acquiring information from the environment to the extent that compensatory
strategies and skills are necessary to access that or other information.
    Subd. 3. Regional service center. "Regional service center" means a facility designed to
provide an entry point for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons of that region in need
of education, employment, social, human, or other services.
    Subd. 4.[Repealed by amendment, 1996 c 392 s 1]
    Subd. 5.[Repealed by amendment, 1996 c 392 s 1]
History: 1980 c 574 s 3; 1993 c 306 s 9-11; 1996 c 392 s 1; 1999 c 159 s 55
256C.233 DUTIES OF STATE AGENCIES.
    Subdivision 1. Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division. The commissioners of
human services, education, employment and economic development, and health shall create a
distinct and separate organizational unit to be known as the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services
Division to address the developmental, social, educational, and occupational needs of deaf,
deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons through a statewide network of collaborative services
and by coordinating the promulgation of public policies, regulations, legislation, and programs
affecting deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons. An interdepartmental management team
shall advise the activities of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division. The commissioner
of human services shall coordinate the work of the interagency management team and receive
legislative appropriations for the division.
    Subd. 2. Responsibilities. The Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division shall:
(1) establish and maintain a statewide network of regional service centers for deaf,
deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing Minnesotans;
(2) assist the Departments of Human Services, Education, and Economic Security to
coordinate the promulgation and implementation of public policies, regulations, legislation,
programs, and services affecting deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons; and
(3) provide a coordinated system of statewide interpreting or interpreter referral services.
    Subd. 3. Health. The commissioner of health shall establish standards for screening for
hearing loss with special emphasis on screening of persons from birth through school age and
persons over age 65.
    Subd. 4. State commissioners. The commissioners of all state agencies shall consult with
the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division concerning the promulgation of public policies,
regulations, and programs necessary to address the needs of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing
Minnesotans. Each state agency shall consult with the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services
Division concerning the need to forward legislative initiatives to the governor to address the
concerns of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing Minnesotans.
History: 1996 c 392 s 2; 1999 c 149 s 2,3; 2003 c 130 s 12; 2004 c 206 s 36
256C.24 REGIONAL SERVICE CENTERS.
    Subdivision 1. Location. The Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division shall establish
up to eight regional service centers for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons. The centers shall be
distributed regionally to provide access for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons in
all parts of the state.
    Subd. 2. Responsibilities. Each regional service center shall:
(a) serve as a central entry point for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons in need of
services and make referrals to the services needed;
(b) employ staff trained to work with deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons;
(c) provide to all deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons access to interpreter services
which are necessary to help them obtain services;
(d) implement a plan to provide loaned equipment and resource materials to deaf, deaf-blind,
and hard-of-hearing persons;
(e) cooperate with responsible departments and administrative authorities to provide
access for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons to services provided by state, county,
and regional agencies;
(f) collaborate with the Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Persons, other
divisions of the Department of Education, and local school districts to develop and deliver
programs and services for families with deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing children and to
support school personnel serving these children;
(g) when possible, provide training to the social service or income maintenance staff
employed by counties or by organizations with whom counties contract for services to ensure
that communication barriers which prevent deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons from
using services are removed;
(h) when possible, provide training to state and regional human service agencies regarding
program access for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons; and
(i) assess the ongoing need and supply of services for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing
persons in all parts of the state and cooperate with public and private service providers to develop
these services.
    Subd. 3. Advisory committee. The director of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services
Division shall appoint an advisory committee of up to nine persons for each regional service area.
Members shall include persons who are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing, persons who
are communication-impaired, parents of children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, parents of
communication-impaired children, and representatives of county and regional human services,
including representatives of private service providers. At least 50 percent of the members must
be deaf or deaf-blind or hard-of-hearing or communication-impaired. Committee members shall
serve for a three-year term and shall serve no more than two consecutive terms. Each advisory
committee shall elect a chair. The director of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division
shall assign staff to serve as nonvoting members of the committee. Members shall not receive
a per diem. Otherwise, the compensation, removal of members, and filling of vacancies on the
committee shall be as provided in section 15.0575.
History: 1980 c 574 s 4; 1984 c 654 art 5 s 58; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 24; 1986 c 444; 1987 c
302 s 1,2; 1991 c 292 art 3 s 8; 1993 c 306 s 12; 1995 c 190 s 14; 1996 c 392 s 3; 2003 c 130 s 12
256C.25 INTERPRETER SERVICES.
    Subdivision 1. Establishment. The Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division shall
maintain and coordinate statewide interpreting or interpreter referral services for use by any public
or private agency or individual in the state. The division shall directly coordinate these services
but may contract with an appropriate agency to provide this service. The division may collect
a $3 fee per referral for interpreter referral services and the actual costs of interpreter services
provided by department staff. Fees and payments collected shall be deposited in the general fund.
The $3 referral fee shall not be collected from state agencies or local units of government or deaf
or hard-of-hearing consumers or interpreters.
    Subd. 2. Duties. Interpreting or interpreter referral services must include:
(a) statewide access to interpreter referral and direct interpreting services, coordinated
with the regional service centers;
(b) maintenance of a statewide directory of qualified interpreters;
(c) assessment of the present and projected supply and demand for interpreter services
statewide; and
(d) coordination with the regional service centers on projects to train interpreters and
advocate for and evaluate interpreter services.
History: 1980 c 574 s 5; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 25; 1987 c 302 s 3,4; 1991 c 292 art 3 s 9;
1993 c 306 s 13; 1996 c 392 s 4; 1999 c 149 s 4
256C.26 EMPLOYMENT SERVICES.
The commissioner of employment and economic development shall work with the Deaf
and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division to develop and implement a plan to deal with the
underemployment of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons.
History: 1980 c 574 s 6; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 26; 1987 c 403 art 2 s 102; 1993 c 306 s 14;
1994 c 483 s 1; 1996 c 392 s 5; 2004 c 206 s 52
256C.261 SERVICES FOR DEAF-BLIND PERSONS.
    (a) The commissioner of human services shall combine the existing biennial base level
funding for deaf-blind services into a single grant program. At least 35 percent of the total funding
is awarded for services and other supports to deaf-blind children and their families and at least 25
percent is awarded for services and other supports to deaf-blind adults.
    The commissioner shall award grants for the purposes of:
    (1) providing services and supports to individuals who are deaf-blind; and
    (2) developing and providing training to counties and the network of senior citizen service
providers. The purpose of the training grants is to teach counties how to use existing programs
that capture federal financial participation to meet the needs of eligible deaf-blind persons and
to build capacity of senior service programs to meet the needs of seniors with a dual sensory
hearing and vision loss.
    (b) The commissioner may make grants:
    (1) for services and training provided by organizations; and
    (2) to develop and administer consumer-directed services.
    (c) Any entity that is able to satisfy the grant criteria is eligible to receive a grant under
paragraph (a).
    (d) Deaf-blind service providers may, but are not required to, provide intervenor services as
part of the service package provided with grant funds under this section.
History: 2007 c 147 art 7 s 61
256C.27 [Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7]
256C.28 COMMISSION SERVING DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE.
    Subdivision 1. Membership. The Minnesota Commission Serving Deaf and Hard-of-hearing
People consists of seven members appointed at large and one member from each advisory
committee established under section 256C.24, subdivision 3. At least 50 percent of the members
must be deaf or deaf-blind or hard of hearing. Members shall include persons who are deaf,
deaf-blind, and hard of hearing, parents of children who are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing,
and representatives of county and regional human services, including representatives of private
service providers. Commission members are appointed by the governor for a three-year term and
shall serve no more than two consecutive terms. The commission shall select one member as
chair. Notwithstanding section 15.059, the commission does not expire.
    Subd. 2. Removal; vacancies. The compensation, removal of members, and filling of
vacancies on the commission are as provided in section 15.0575.
    Subd. 3. Mission. The commission shall serve as the principal agency of the state to advocate
on behalf of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing Minnesotans by working to ensure those
persons have equal access to the services, programs, and opportunities available to others.
    Subd. 3a. Duties. The commission shall:
(1) assist deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons and parents of deaf, deaf-blind, and
hard-of-hearing students in advocating for equal access to services, programs, and opportunities;
(2) advise the governor, the legislature, and the commissioners of the Departments of Human
Services, Education, Employment and Economic Development, and Health on the development
of policies, programs, and services affecting deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons, and on
the use of appropriate federal and state money;
(3) create a public awareness of the special needs and potential of deaf, deaf-blind, and
hard-of-hearing persons;
(4) provide the governor, the legislature, and the commissioners of the Departments of
Human Services, Education, Employment and Economic Development, and Health with a
review of ongoing services, programs, and proposed legislation affecting deaf, deaf-blind, and
hard-of-hearing persons;
(5) advise the governor, the legislature, and the commissioners of the Departments of Human
Services, Education, Employment and Economic Development, and Health on statutes, rules, and
policies necessary to ensure that deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons have equal access
to benefits and services provided to individuals in Minnesota;
(6) recommend to the governor, the legislature, and the commissioners of the Departments of
Human Services, Education, Employment and Economic Development, and Health legislation
designed to improve the economic and social conditions of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing
persons in Minnesota;
(7) propose solutions to problems of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons in the
areas of education, employment, human rights, human services, health, housing, and other related
programs;
(8) recommend to the governor and the legislature any needed revisions in the state's
affirmative action program and any other steps necessary to eliminate the underemployment or
unemployment of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons in the state's work force;
(9) work with other state and federal agencies and organizations to promote economic
development for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing Minnesotans; and
(10) coordinate its efforts with other state and local agencies serving deaf, deaf-blind, and
hard-of-hearing persons.
    Subd. 4. Staff. The commission may appoint, subject to the approval of the governor, an
executive director who must be experienced in administrative activities and familiar with the
problems and needs of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing persons. The commission may
delegate to the executive director any powers and duties under this section that do not require
commission approval. The executive director serves in the unclassified service and may be
removed at any time by a majority vote of the commission. The executive director shall coordinate
the provision of necessary support services to the commission with the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
Services Division. The executive director may employ and direct staff necessary to carry out
commission mandates, policies, activities, and objectives.
    Subd. 5. Powers. The commission may contract in its own name. Contracts must be
approved by a majority of the members of the commission and executed by the chair and the
executive director. The commission may apply for, receive, and expend in its own name grants
and gifts of money consistent with the powers and duties specified in this section.
    Subd. 6. Report. The commission may prepare and distribute periodic reports to the
state agency commissioners, the governor, and the legislature concerning the activities of the
commission and the needs and concerns of deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing Minnesotans.
History: 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 27; 1987 c 302 s 5,6; 1988 c 629 s 56; 1989 c 282 art 2 s
122-125; 1992 c 513 art 9 s 30,31; 1993 c 306 s 16; 1994 c 483 s 1; 1Sp1995 c 3 art 16 s 13;
1996 c 392 s 6; 2003 c 130 s 12; 2004 c 206 s 52; 2007 c 133 art 2 s 11
256C.29 COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES REQUIRED IN BUS TERMINALS.
The operator of a bus terminal in the city of Minneapolis or St. Paul that serves intercity
buses, defined in section 168.011, subdivision 9, shall provide, in public areas in the terminal,
public pay telephones with telecommunications devices, commonly known as "TDD's," that
permit a communication-impaired person to communicate with others by telephone. The operator
shall place signs at strategic locations in and about the terminal indicating where the telephones
are available.
History: 1989 c 111 s 1
256C.30 DUTIES OF HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSIONER.
(a) As described in this section, the commissioner of human services must enter into grant
agreements with television stations to make live local news programming accessible to deaf,
hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind persons as defined in section 256C.23.
(b) The grant agreements must provide for:
(1) real-time captioning services for broadcasting that is not emergency broadcasting subject
to Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, section 79.2;
(2) real-time captioning services for commercial broadcasters in areas of Minnesota where
commercial broadcasters are not subject to the live programming closed-captioning requirements
of Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, section 71.1(e)(3); and
(3) real-time captioning for large-market noncommercial broadcasters who produce live
news programming.
(c) For the purposes of this section, "real-time captioning" means a method of captioning
in which captions are simultaneously prepared and transmitted at the time of origination by
specially trained real-time captioners.
History: 2005 c 81 s 5

NOTE: This section, as added by Laws 2005, chapter 81, section 5, expires June 30, 2010.
Laws 2005, chapter 81, section 7.