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Minnesota's Deaf Heritage Collections

MNCDHH is proud to present a video collection of oral-visual history interviews conducted with deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing advocates in Minnesota.

In these interviews, you will see people talk about their life experiences, including where they went to school, what they did for work, and other funny and serious experiences that they have had as deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people in Minnesota. You will also see them discuss the work that they have done to advocate for the community in Minnesota. Many of their advocacy stories are connected, so watch for those connections!

Be amazed by their inspiring stories, and don't be surprised if they make you laugh or cry. Watch, enjoy, and learn!

Links to the video interviews

This video collection is made accessible through American Sign Language (ASL), open captions, voice-overs, and Microsoft Word transcripts of audio content with video descriptions included. The transcripts also include interview & translation notes (with additional information & corrections).

Background on the Oral-Visual History Project 

With the support of the Minnesota Historical Society, MNCDHH and Barb Sommer, a nationally recognized oral historian, collaborated on an Oral-Visual History Project to record, collect, and preserve the stories of deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing advocates in Minnesota.

The term "oral-visual" reflects the fact that the interviewees used a wide spectrum of communication modes, including visual and tactile sign languages. This video collection represents a valuable record of the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community's diverse experiences and unique languages and cultures, and the significant contributions that the community has made to Minnesota's history through vital activities such as advocacy.

All the oral-visual history interview materials were produced or remastered to comply with accepted oral history standards and Section 508 accessibility standards and will be archived at the Minnesota Historical Society.


The oral-visual histories and supporting documentation (dated 1996-2011) were accessioned into the Minnesota Historical Society archives in July 2017. The paper records include transcripts, background information on interviewees, correspondence, grant-related records, and project documentation. The State Archives will serve as a "dark archive" for the digital files which include videos, captions, and final transcripts.

Acknowledgements and credits 

Extra special thanks go to the interviewees who agreed to participate in this exciting project and share their stories of advocacy.

Special thanks also go to the organizations who produced and contributed valuable historical materials for this project, including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Metro Division (DHHSD) of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Digiterp Communications, the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens (MADC), the Minnesota Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (MRID), and the St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

The final videos were produced and remastered by ZenMation for the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans.

This project was made possible by Legacy funding granted to MNCDHH from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund established through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008 and administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

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