The blind, deaf and the disabled feel the state could be doing more

People living with a disability have higher rates of unemployment and homelessness

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The deaf, blind and the disabled carried a message to the State House on Friday. They’re asking state lawmakers for more funding for housing programs, employment opportunities and insurance benefits.

Joe Toledo has difficulty hearing and communicating. With the help of a translator, Toledo told state lawmakers that he wants to create a better future for his three deaf children. “Unfortunately, I’ve had a horrible experience because of lack of access within the community. I do not want my children to experience the same thing,” he said.

People living with a disability have higher rates of unemployment and homelessness.

While many of those who testified Friday have difficulty speaking, Warren State Representative Todd Smola told 22News their message speaks volumes. He said, “You heard that raw emotion in the hearing today. People are talking about housing issues, funding for important programs for the deaf, the elderly the blind – and this is where the rubber meets the road.”

Governor Charlie Baker submitted a $39.5 billion dollar budget for fiscal 2017. State lawmakers are being pressured to increase funding for several programs, even in these tough financial times.

Rep. Smola added that, “You have to look at the overall picture and figure out where you can make those difficult decisions and adjustments, and that’s all a part of the budget process.”

House lawmakers plan to debate and vote on their budget proposal at the end of the April.

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