Life is always interesting in the Government Relations Department! I am finding that increasing my position as Vice President of Governmental Affairs to full-time definitely helps the Lighthouse be more responsive to fast moving policy issues and requests.

In the last few years, the Lighthouse has been involved with several key federal initiatives on a national level. The Lighthouse has been involved with the modernization of the JWOD Act, put forth a request for funding for safe travel training for blind and Deaf-Blind individuals, and has been involved with the effort to improve access to technology for individuals with disabilities. Well, a recent revised and quite reasonable JWOD Act was just introduced into the House, the Lighthouse will soon be receiving and putting to use the travel training funding we are receiving through Senator Murray’s efforts, and we were thrilled to hear recently about the unanimous passage of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act by the Senate. Thunderous ovations go out to Mark Richert at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Eric Bridges of American Council of the Blind (ACB), and to all the many advocates in the blind, Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Disabled communities for their resolve in getting this through the House and the Senate. We are still waiting to hear the decision from the Air Force on the Boeing NewGen Tanker, another issue that the Lighthouse is involved in.

The coming year might have us a little closer to home as we work on ways to bring the Lighthouse’s high quality products to the state. Mark Landreneau continues his involvement with transportation planners, and we continue to build our relationships with public officials in Spokane.

Our Government Relations staff is small, just Mark Landreneau and myself, but our team is HUGE (we are like the Verizon commercial with all those people behind us). Thanks to our dedicated fellow Lighthouse employees, we have great sources of engaging speakers and advocates to help us out on our legislative visits and our public policy work. Will try to keep you posted as Government Relations at the Lighthouse marches on!

– Paula Hoffman, Vice President of Governmental Affairs