Letter to Governor Newsom re: AB 598 (Bloom)

May 15, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Newsom,

California Hands & Voices is an organization dedicated to supporting families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in a respectful and non-judgmental manner regarding language opportunities, communication tools or educational approaches. We’re a parent-driven, non-profit organization providing families with resources, networks, and information to improve communication access and educational outcomes for their children.

California Hands & Voices is extremely dismayed that funding for hearing aids for minors was removed from the state budget in the May revision. As you know, AB 598 (Bloom) would have required insurance companies to pay for hearing aids for minors. The bill passed unanimously through both houses of the state legislature. At your request, the bill was not sent to you for signature or veto. Instead, you made a commitment to provide funding for children’s hearing aids through the state budget.

While the May revision maintained funding for special education and for vulnerable populations, it cut the funding for children’s hearing aids. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot benefit from special education if they do not have hearing aids. Deaf and hard of hearing children especially need hearing aids during this pandemic, when so much instruction is occurring on-line. Classes taught on-line are often not captioned. Even if they are captioned, young children and multiply-disabled deaf and hard of hearing children cannot read the captions. They must be able to hear what the teacher is saying.

By not funding hearing aids for children, deaf and hard of hearing children are being left out, again. We request that the funding for hearing aids for minors be restored to the budget.


Rosabel Agbayani, MPH
President-California Hands & Voices