- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2020

A deaf advocacy group is gearing up for the 2020 election with a voter mobilization campaign aimed at millions of hearing-impaired voters.

Communication Service for the Deaf is leading a coalition of advocacy groups to increase deaf participation in the coming 2020 election and eliminate barriers to its voters’ access to registration material and election information.

CSD is coordinating a “SignVote” campaign for 2020 and wants to better inform and engage the deaf community about election issues headed into the November elections with information provided in American Sign Language (ASL). Alongside CSD are a collection of 11 leading deaf advocacy groups such as Council de Manos; Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network; Deaf Queer Resource Center; Deaf Women United; National Deaf Black Advocates; and Gallaudet University, among others.

Kriston Lee Pumphrey, CSD community engagement manager and deaf activist, said in an email the coalition’s goal is to make ASL accessibility a priority in the 2020 campaign season, which means onscreen interpreters for media coverage of the election including at debates.

“We want to see more of our concerns reflected in candidates’ efforts, specifically mentioning deaf people in their talking points and policies,” Mr. Pumphrey said in an email. “We want all campaign materials to be accessible with captions, transcripts, and visual descriptions for DeafBlind and low-vision constituencies. And most of all, we are looking to increase the visibility and the amount of political discourse in ASL, both in person and in online spaces.”

The National Association of the Deaf estimates that 48 million American voters have some level of hearing loss that poll workers need to be prepared to accommodate. Mr. Pumphrey said his group’s voter turnout efforts will include creating a centralized platform for ASL-speaking voters.

Alongside the campaign’s website, the coalition is using an ASL voter hotline, developing an archive of videos, and creating voter toolkits with information regarding candidates and elections and voter registration material. Mr. Pumphrey said CSD does not actively fundraise for the SignVote campaign and its limited budget is heavily reliant upon hearing-impaired community members with an interest in their effort.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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