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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

CHAPTER 256C. PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Table of Sections
Section Headnote
256C.001 MS 2006 [Renumbered 15.001]
BLIND PERSONS
256C.01 POSITION OF THE STATE WITH REGARD TO PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND AND PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY.
256C.02 PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.
256C.025 HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS.
256C.03 BLIND OR DEAF PEDESTRIANS; CIVIL LIABILITY.
256C.04 PROCLAMATION BY GOVERNOR.
256C.05 [Repealed, 2014 c 262 art 4 s 9]
256C.06 CITATION.
PERSONS WHO ARE DEAF, DEAFBLIND, HARD-OF-HEARING
256C.21 DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING SERVICES ACT; CITATION.
256C.22 [Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7]
256C.23 DEFINITIONS.
256C.233 DUTIES OF STATE AGENCIES.
256C.24 REGIONAL SERVICE CENTERS.
256C.25 [Repealed, 1Sp2017 c 6 art 1 s 54]
256C.26 EMPLOYMENT SERVICES.
256C.261 SERVICES FOR PERSONS WHO ARE DEAFBLIND.
256C.27 [Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7]
256C.28 COMMISSION OF THE DEAF, DEAFBLIND AND HARD OF HEARING.
256C.29 [Repealed, 2014 c 262 art 4 s 9]
256C.30 DUTIES OF HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSIONER.
256C.001 MS 2006 [Renumbered 15.001]

BLIND PERSONS

256C.01 POSITION OF THE STATE WITH REGARD TO PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND AND PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY.

The state of Minnesota shall encourage and enable people who are blind, or people with a visual or physical disability to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state and to engage in remunerative employment. People who are blind, or people with a visual or physical disability 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.

256C.02 PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.

People who are blind or people with a visual or physical disability 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 person who is totally or partially blind, or person who is deaf, or person with a physical disability, 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.

256C.025 HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS.

Subdivision 1.Full and equal access.

People who are blind or people with a visual or physical disability 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 person who is blind or a person with a visual or other physical disability than for a person without a physical disability.

Subd. 4.Service dog.

Every person who is totally or partially blind, or person who is deaf, or person with a physical disability 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.

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.

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 people with a disability,

(3) reminds the citizens of the state of the policies with respect to people with a disability 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 people with a disability in the community and to keep safe and functional for people with a disability 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 people with a disability upon appropriate occasions.

History:

1969 c 900 s 4; 1986 c 444; 2017 c 40 art 1 s 121

256C.05 [Repealed, 2014 c 262 art 4 s 9]

256C.06 CITATION.

Sections 256C.01 to 256C.06 shall be known and may be cited the "Minnesota White Cane Law."

PERSONS WHO ARE DEAF, DEAFBLIND, HARD-OF-HEARING

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."

256C.22 [Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7]

256C.23 DEFINITIONS.

Subdivision 1.Scope.

For the purposes of sections 256C.21 to 256C.30, the terms defined in this section shall have the meanings given them, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

Subd. 1a.Culturally affirmative.

"Culturally affirmative" describes services that are designed and delivered within the context of the culture, language, and life experiences of a person who is deaf, a person who is deafblind, and a person who is hard-of-hearing.

Subd. 2.Deaf.

"Deaf" means a hearing loss of such severity that the individual must depend primarily on visual communication such as American Sign Language or other signed language, visual and manual means of communication such as signing systems in English or Cued Speech, writing, speech reading, 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.Deafblind.

"Deafblind" 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. 2c.Interpreting services.

"Interpreting services" means services that include:

(1) interpreting between a spoken language, such as English, and a visual language, such as American Sign Language;

(2) interpreting between a spoken language and a visual representation of a spoken language, such as Cued Speech and signing systems in English;

(3) interpreting within one language where the interpreter uses natural gestures and silently repeats the spoken message, replacing some words or phrases to give higher visibility on the lips;

(4) interpreting using low vision or tactile methods for persons who have a combined hearing and vision loss or are deafblind; and

(5) interpreting from one communication mode or language into another communication mode or language that is linguistically and culturally appropriate for the participants in the communication exchange.

Subd. 3.

[Repealed, 1Sp2017 c 6 art 1 s 54]

Subd. 4.

[Repealed by amendment, 1996 c 392 s 1]

Subd. 5.

[Repealed by amendment, 1996 c 392 s 1]

Subd. 6.Real-time captioning.

"Real-time captioning" means a method of captioning in which a caption is simultaneously prepared and displayed or transmitted at the time of origination by specially trained real-time captioners.

256C.233 DUTIES OF STATE AGENCIES.

Subdivision 1.Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division.

The commissioners of education, employment and economic development, and health shall advise the commissioner of human services on the activities of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division. This division addresses the developmental and social-emotional needs of persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing through a statewide network of services and advocates on behalf of and provides information and training about how to best serve persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing. The commissioner of human services shall coordinate the work of the interagency advisers 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 culturally affirmative services for Minnesotans who are deaf, Minnesotans who are deafblind, and Minnesotans who are hard-of-hearing;

(2) work across divisions within the Department of Human Services, as well as with other agencies and counties, to ensure that there is an understanding of:

(i) the communication challenges faced by persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing;

(ii) the best practices for accommodating and mitigating communication challenges; and

(iii) the legal requirements for providing access to and effective communication with persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing;

(3) assess the supply and demand statewide for interpreter services and real-time captioning services, implement strategies to provide greater access to these services in areas without sufficient supply, and build the base of service providers across the state;

(4) maintain a statewide information resource that includes contact information and professional certification credentials of interpreting service providers and real-time captioning service providers;

(5) provide culturally affirmative mental health services to persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing who:

(i) use a visual language such as American Sign Language or a tactile form of a language; or

(ii) otherwise need culturally affirmative therapeutic services;

(6) research and develop best practices and recommendations for emerging issues;

(7) provide as much information as practicable on the division's stand-alone website in American Sign Language; and

(8) report to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over human services biennially, beginning on January 1, 2019, on the following:

(i) the number of regional service center staff, the location of the office of each staff person, other service providers with which they are colocated, the number of people served by each staff person and a breakdown of whether each person was served on-site or off-site, and for those served off-site, a list of locations where services were delivered and the number who were served in-person and the number who were served via technology;

(ii) the amount and percentage of the division budget spent on reasonable accommodations for staff;

(iii) the number of people who use demonstration equipment and consumer evaluations of the experience;

(iv) the number of training sessions provided by division staff, the topics covered, the number of participants, and consumer evaluations, including a breakdown by delivery method such as in-person or via technology;

(v) the number of training sessions hosted at a division location provided by another service provider, the topics covered, the number of participants, and consumer evaluations, including a breakdown by delivery method such as in-person or via technology;

(vi) for each grant awarded, the amount awarded to the grantee and a summary of the grantee's results, including consumer evaluations of the services or products provided;

(vii) the number of people on waiting lists for any services provided by division staff or for services or equipment funded through grants awarded by the division;

(viii) the amount of time staff spent driving to appointments to deliver direct one-to-one client services in locations outside of the regional service centers; and

(ix) the regional needs and feedback on addressing service gaps identified by the advisory committees.

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.

[Repealed, 1Sp2017 c 6 art 1 s 54]

256C.24 REGIONAL SERVICE CENTERS.

Subdivision 1.Location.

The Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division shall establish at least six regional service centers for persons who are deaf and persons who are hard-of-hearing. The centers shall be distributed regionally to provide access for persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing in all parts of the state.

Subd. 2.Responsibilities.

Each regional service center shall:

(1) establish connections and collaborations and explore colocating with other public and private entities providing services to persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing in the region;

(2) for those in need of services, assist in coordinating services between service providers and persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing, and the persons' families, and make referrals to the services needed;

(3) employ staff trained to work with persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing;

(4) if adequate services are not available from another public or private service provider in the region, provide individual assistance to persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing, and the persons' families. Individual culturally affirmative assistance may be provided using technology only in areas of the state where a person has access to sufficient quality telecommunications or broadband services to allow effective communication. When a person who is deaf, a person who is deafblind, or a person who is hard-of-hearing does not have access to sufficient telecommunications or broadband service, individual assistance shall be available in person;

(5) identify regional training needs, work with deaf and hard-of-hearing services training staff, and collaborate with others to deliver training for persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing, and the persons' families, and other service providers about subjects including the persons' rights under the law, American Sign Language, and the impact of hearing loss and options for accommodating it;

(6) have a mobile or permanent lab where persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing can try a selection of modern assistive technology and equipment to determine what would best meet the persons' needs;

(7) 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 children who are deaf, children who are deafblind, or children who are hard-of-hearing and to support school personnel serving these children;

(8) 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 persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing from using services are removed;

(9) provide training to human service agencies in the region regarding program access for persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing;

(10) assess the ongoing need and supply of services for persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing in all parts of the state, annually consult with the division's advisory committees to identify regional needs and solicit feedback on addressing service gaps, and cooperate with public and private service providers to develop these services;

(11) provide culturally affirmative mental health services to persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing who:

(i) use a visual language such as American Sign Language or a tactile form of a language; or

(ii) otherwise need culturally affirmative therapeutic services; and

(12) establish partnerships with state and regional entities statewide that have the technological capacity to provide Minnesotans with virtual access to the division's services and division-sponsored training via technology.

Subd. 3.Advisory committee.

The director of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division shall appoint eight advisory committees of up to nine persons per advisory committee. Each committee shall represent a specific region of the state. The director shall determine the boundaries of each advisory committee region. The committees shall advise the director on the needs of persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing and service gaps in the region of the state the committee represents. Members shall include persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing, persons who have communication disabilities, parents of children who are deaf and parents of children who are hard-of-hearing, parents of children who have communication disabilities, 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 deafblind or hard-of-hearing or have a communication disability. Committee members shall serve for a three-year term, and may be appointed to 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.

256C.25 [Repealed, 1Sp2017 c 6 art 1 s 54]

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, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing persons.

256C.261 SERVICES FOR PERSONS WHO ARE DEAFBLIND.

(a) The commissioner of human services shall use at least 35 percent of the deafblind services biennial base level grant funding for services and other supports for a child who is deafblind and the child's family. The commissioner shall use at least 25 percent of the deafblind services biennial base level grant funding for services and other supports for an adult who is deafblind.

The commissioner shall award grants for the purposes of:

(1) providing services and supports to persons who are deafblind; 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 persons who are deafblind 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) Consumer-directed services shall be provided in whole by grant-funded providers. The Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division's regional service centers shall not provide any aspect of a grant-funded consumer-directed services program.

(d) Any entity that is able to satisfy the grant criteria is eligible to receive a grant under paragraph (a).

(e) Deafblind service providers may, but are not required to, provide intervenor services as part of the service package provided with grant funds under this section.

256C.27 [Repealed, 1996 c 392 s 7]

256C.28 COMMISSION OF THE DEAF, DEAFBLIND AND HARD OF HEARING.

Subdivision 1.Membership.

The Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing 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 deafblind or hard-of-hearing. Members shall include persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing, parents of children who are deaf, deafblind, 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 four-year term and until successors are appointed and qualify. Commission members shall serve no more than three consecutive terms, and no more than 12 years in total. Annually, by January 31, the commission shall select one member as chair and one member as vice-chair to serve until January 31 of the following year or until the commission selects a new chair or vice-chair, whichever occurs later.

Subd. 1a.Executive committee.

The commission may establish an executive committee and other committees of its members as it deems necessary or proper and may authorize them to exercise any powers of the commission except those expressly required by law to be exercised by the commission. The executive committee must have at least three members. The executive committee may approve contracts not to exceed $50,000 to provide necessary services and supplies to the commission.

Subd. 2.Removal; vacancies.

The compensation, removal of members, and filling of vacancies on the commission are as provided in section 15.059.

Subd. 3.Mission.

The commission shall serve as the principal agency of the state to advocate on behalf of Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing 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 persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing and parents of students who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing in advocating for equal access to services, programs, and opportunities;

(2) advise the governor, the legislature, the judicial branch, and the commissioners of all state agencies on the development of policies, programs, and services affecting persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing, and on the use of appropriate federal and state money;

(3) create a public awareness of the special needs and potential of persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing;

(4) provide the governor, the legislature, and the commissioners of all state agencies with a review of ongoing services, programs, and proposed legislation affecting persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing;

(5) advise the governor, the legislature, the judicial branch, and the commissioners of all state agencies on statutes, rules, and policies necessary to ensure that persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing have equal access to benefits and services provided to individuals in Minnesota;

(6) recommend to the governor, the legislature, the judicial branch, and the commissioners of all state agencies legislation designed to improve the economic and social conditions of persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing in Minnesota;

(7) propose solutions to problems of persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing in the areas of education, employment, human rights, human services, health, housing, and other related programs;

(8) recommend to the governor, the legislature, and the commissioners of all state agencies any needed revisions in the state's affirmative action program and any other steps necessary to eliminate the underemployment or unemployment of deaf, deafblind, 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 Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing;

(10) coordinate its efforts with other state and local agencies serving persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing;

(11) research, formulate, and present plans, programs, and policies that will serve the needs of persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing; and

(12) encourage and assist in the development of coordinated, interdepartmental goals and objectives, and the coordination of programs, services, and facilities among all state departments, political subdivisions, and private providers of service as they relate to persons who are deaf, persons who are deafblind, and persons who are hard-of-hearing.

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 persons who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing. 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 executed by the chair and the executive director. Contracts for more than $50,000 must be approved by a majority of the members of the commission. 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 Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing.

Subd. 7.Electronic meetings.

(a) The commission is subject to the requirements of chapter 13D, but may conduct a meeting of its members by telephone or other electronic means so long as the following conditions are met:

(1) all members of the commission participating in the meeting, wherever their physical location, can communicate with one another and can hear, see, or feel all discussion and testimony;

(2) members of the public present at the regular meeting location of the commission can hear, see, or feel all discussion and testimony and all votes of members of the commission;

(3) at least one member of the commission is physically present at the regular meeting location; and

(4) all votes are conducted by roll call, so that each member's vote on each issue can be identified and recorded.

(b) Each member of the commission participating in a meeting by telephone or other electronic means is considered present at the meeting for purposes of determining a quorum and participating in all proceedings.

(c) If telephone or other electronic means is used to conduct a meeting, the commission, to the extent practical, shall allow a person to monitor the meeting electronically from a remote location. The commission may require the person making a connection to pay for documented marginal costs that the commission incurs as a result of the additional connection.

(d) If telephone or other electronic means is used to conduct a regular, special, or emergency meeting, the commission shall provide notice of the regular meeting location, of the fact that some members may participate by telephone or other electronic means, and of the provisions of paragraph (c).

256C.29 [Repealed, 2014 c 262 art 4 s 9]

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 persons who are deaf, persons who are hard-of-hearing, and persons who are deafblind 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 79.1(d); 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.