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Updates on MNCDHH's Civic Engagement Work

Three projects planned for 2020-2021

7/23/2020 9:05:33 AM

Our Director of Community & Civic Engagement, Jessalyn Akerman-Frank, discusses MNCDHH's three civic engagement projects for 2020-2021. She shares information about MNCDHH's diverse contractors from all walks of life and how we have adjusted our community outreach (hint: we are not letting COVID-19 stop us from doing our work). The three projects are Census 2020, Vote from Home workshops, and Lobby Day 2021!

Descriptive transcript

[Jessalyn is smiling and begins to sign, accompanied by voiceover and captions.]

>> Jessalyn: Hello, my name is Jessalyn Akerman-Frank and I am the Director of Community and Civic Engagement with the (Minnesota) Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH).

Today I wanted to take a moment to share some news about our civic engagement work. Maybe you don't know that MNCDHH has 11 contractors with different expertise and backgrounds and many of them who identify as deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing.

Many of you have reached out wanting to work with us, to do outreach in specific cultural communities and so we agreed to this and support this. So all of our contractors have received training and are ready to work within their communities.

Our goal is to reach every region of Minnesota and to meet the needs of all who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing with varying ways of communicating; American Sign Language, spoken English, Tactile American Sign Language, Cued Speech etc.

We're excited and we want you to have the opportunity to meet all of them (our contractors) and you'll learn about them in the next video. We want you to have this opportunity to meet them. We will also set up a Zoom Meet and Greet. 

Now I invite you to learn about our civic engagement projects that we are focusing on. We have three of them and I will share all three of them with you right now. 

The first one is Census 2020. Maybe you're familiar a little bit but when you fill out the census about your home, your region, where you live, that information is given to the government to have an accurate count so these areas can receive funding for programs, services, health care, etc., and for voting. If you haven't filled out your census, you still have time. You can do so online because the deadline is coming up in August. This is when folks will come knocking at your door to make sure that you have filled out the census. So we want to try to avoid that. We want to make sure you do that online. So I will show you the link of the census website so you're familiar on where to go and what it looks like. I'll share my screen right now so you can see it.

[Jessalyn leans forward to change her screen. She disappears from view and the website she pulls up replaces her. She continues to sign off-screen temporarily and the viewer has access through either captions, the transcript, voiceover, or a combination.]

[Main content on 

“Welcome to the 2020 Census

It's quick and easy. The 2020 Census questionnaire will take about 10 minutes to complete.

It's safe, secure, and confidential. Your information and privacy are protected.

Your response helps to direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services.

Results from the 2020 Census will be used to determine the number of seats each state has in Congress and your political representation at all levels of government.

Getting started:

You must complete your questionnaire once you begin. If you leave the questionnaire and return later, you will have to start over.

Do not use the web browser buttons (back, forward, or close browser). Use the buttons within the questionnaire to navigate.

For best results, use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. Enable cookies.”]

>> Jessalyn: So the link is You can click "start questionnaire." 

[Jessalyn uses her arrow to click on “start questionnaire” and the new page appears. The main content on this page has the following text, 

“Please Log In

Use the materials we mailed to you or left at your door.

All the information that you provide will remain confidential.

Where can I find my 12-digit Census ID?

Please enter the 12-digit Census ID found in the materials we mailed to you or left at your door.

Login button

If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”]

>> Jessalyn: If you have received information in the mail and have an id number, you can go ahead and fill that out here. If you have not or you don't know your id number, no problem, you can still see where it says, right there, that you don't know. 

[Jessalyn clicks on the “I don’t know“ link which leads to a new page with the following text, “In order to collect your address, we first need to know where you were living on April 1, 2020 (help). Please select where you we reliving on April 1, 2020.

A U.S. state or the District of Columbia

Puerto Rico

Somewhere Else”]

>> Jessalyn: You can click that and then you can go ahead and fill out the information about your home, the people who live with you, etc.

If the website is challenging or you're not understanding the process, not a problem, you can contact me at

[Jessalyn becomes visible onscreen again. She continues to sign.]

>> Jessalyn: So that's the first project that we've been working on. Congratulations to our contractors and partners! We are number one here in Minnesota for self-reporting for the census. That's great news! I want to recognize MNCDHH partners and contractors for taking the lead in creating accessible information and platforms to do outreach for the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing communities making sure that they access that information and fill out the census. We are not done yet. Remember, if you have not filled it out please do as soon as possible. And again, if you need any help whatsoever, we're here.

We look forward to partnering again in 2030!

So our second project we're going to focus on is Voters Outreach at Home. 

I know you've probably seen in past years that we've done this event but now with COVID we can't do face to face for these sessions. This year they are hosted online on Zoom. They're structured to have very interactive information [from the comfort of home]. Our contractors work in teams to provide these workshops for you so you're comfortable about voting and the Commission will be hosting Zoom at Home Voting Series. 

We will offer four different workshops [in this series]. The first workshop is called "The Top 10 Tips for Voting." The second one is about "Primary and Elections." The third is "Voters Research 101." And the fourth is "Be an Active Voter." 

So all of these will be offered for about an hour online through Zoom. Another option is a 90-minute comprehensive workshop (all 4 workshops in one). If you're looking to host that workshop for your group or organization, we can also do that to offer all four of them in 90 minutes.

And so that's our second project. 

Now our third project and last project is... I know you're familiar with our biennial Lobby Day. It is very exciting so you need to save the date! March 16th, 2021.

Last year we offered "The Art of Lobbying" training. Community members had the opportunity to meet their legislators, tour the State Office Building, tour the Capitol, and discuss tips on how to lobby for specific bills or issues that were important to them.

Again, due to COVID, this year we cannot offer that face-to-face but we are offering it online.

So where do you find all this information about all of our work? You can subscribe to our Facebook page, newsletter, and watch our website for updates.

So now I'm going to show you where to find all that information.

[Jessalyn leans forward to change the display on the recorded video to her computer screen. She disappears from view. Onscreen is Google’s homepage.]

>> Jessalyn (off-screen): So you can go ahead and look on Google.

[Viewers can see Jessalyn’s screen where she is typing “Minnesota Commission…” and then she clicks on “Minnesota Commission on deaf deafblind and hard of hearing” from the drop down. She then clicks on MNCDHH’s website ( and arrives at our homepage. Her mouse is then shown scrolling to “About Us – Who We Are – Contractors.” She clicks on “Contractors” and a page with our contractor profiles appear.]

>> Jessalyn (off-screen): All of our contractors are right here. You can learn more about them.

[Jessalyn clicks on Jaemi Hagen’s profile for their individual page.]

>> Jessalyn (off-screen): Here's one for example.

[Jessalyn then clicks on “News” from the top navigation bar. Her mouse hovers over various articles on this page. She clicks on the article titled “Voters Info Session (ASL & English) Recording Now Available.”]

>> Jessalyn (off-screen): Here's information about the Commission.

[Jessalyn clicks on “News” again.]

>> Jessalyn: You can always go to MNCDHH News to learn what's going on next and learn more about our voting outreach.

[Jessalyn returns to the top navigation bar and scrolls over to “Advocacy & Issues – Civic Engagement.” Then she clicks on “MNCDHH News – Lobby Day” from the page, which shows all of MNCDHH’s news articles with the ‘Lobby Day’ tag.]

>> Jessalyn (off-screen): Here's information about Lobby Day.

[Jessalyn returns to the top navigation bar and scrolls over to “Advocacy & Issues – Civic Engagement.” Then she clicks on “MNCDHH News – Voting” from the page, which shows all of MNCDHH’s news articles with the ‘Voting’ tag.]

>> Jessalyn (off-screen): Voter outreach information and news.

[Jessalyn returns onscreen.]

>> Jessalyn: Again, remember, anytime you have any questions, or if you want to set up a workshop, please contact me.

Again, my email is

I look forward to working with you soon! Have a wonderful day. Bye bye.

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