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Civic Engagement

Lobbyists in Capitol Rotunda
The actions of one person have the potential to spark a movement. And we believe that it is movements created by engaged citizens that can lead to transformative change.

The deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing communities are ready for and are demanding change. They need faith that their voice will make a difference. We work to develop citizen centered solutions.

The 2014-2019 Strategic Plan Civic Engagement Goals and Indicators: Increased civic engagement and development of leadership skills for people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing.

Key indicators:
Voting and Elections: We provide Information, statewide training and assistance on voter access, information and registration. MNCDHH has a long history of working closely with deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing grassroots organizations and with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State during election cycles to make sure the act of voting and democratic process are fully accessible.

Facilitation: We facilitate discussions with individuals and organizations to develop public policy solutions to communication barriers identified by the community. Some past examples are our Employment Task Force, work with Metro Deaf School and Early Hearing Detection and Intervention. By getting people with diverse perspectives sitting at the same table we have been able to develop policies that are strong and have the greatest community benefit.

Build relationships: We encourage deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people and their allies to meet with their legislators and ask for their support for community concerns. And encourage them to serve on committees and state boards that influence public policy. The more people meet deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people, the more policymakers include them in their planning for health care, employment, education and communication access. We also build relationships with other disability groups.

Mobilize the community: We mobilize citizens to take action through education sessions, emails, vlogs in ASL with captions and transcript and community outreach.

Host Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Lobby Day: Once every two years we host a day where the community shows its strength. We provide trainings statewide and prepare community members to meet with their legislators. An average of 600 people attend.

The Governor's Council on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday: We partner with the Governor's Council to celebrate this statewide event and to work together to achieve Dr. King's dream of equality for all.

Support grassroots community efforts: The Commission board recognized that grassroots organizations with limited budgets are unable to meet without assistance that covers the cost of interpreters or CART. The funds are very limited. They are available only to advocacy organizations run by people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing or that have deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing members on boards working for policy change that the Commission supports.

Create online courses that teach civic engagement skills: In the past we created Making Your Case, the Electronic Curb cut, Heath Care Advocacy and Voting Education. All of these video courses will be updated in 2016.

What are the issues?

  • Lack of civic engagement: This is true of the general public but the deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community face communication barriers that make it difficult to vote and to participate in civic life.
  • Lack of civic and political skills: There is a decline of civic engagement in America. It used to be required to teach it in school and now it's an elective. This has affected the deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community particularly hard. Fewer people go to Deaf clubs. Schools for the deaf were often the center of community life. With mainstreaming, many school districts in rural areas only have one student in their district. Young people have fewer opportunities to get together. Cell phones can bring people together but it can also lead to absorption in distractions and not issues that could improve people's lives.
  • Barriers to the voting and political process: We work with the Secretary of State (external link) and the Campaign Finance Board (external link) to eliminate barriers to voting and the political process.

Latest civic engagement updates

Amazing Turnout for Meet with Your Legislator Day 2015!
March 10, 2015 - We had an amazing turnout for Meet with Your Legislator Day 2015!

Past work

We meet statewide with community members and provide voter education, access to nonpartisan political debates, and conducted by our staff and our Community Engagement Outreach Specialists every 2 years. Learn more about our past civic engagement work under Capitol Accessibility and Voting Accessibility under Our Successes

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