For the first time in state history, Michigan is launching its most comprehensive assessment tool to identify the needs of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing communities.
The project is the result of a partnership between The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing; Madonna University’s Sign Language Department and Public Sector Consultants.
The tool, found at NotWithoutUsMich.org, was designed with input from the impacted communities and will comprehensively evaluate the ongoing needs of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing communities in accessing all levels of civic life — from government to medical care.
“Business, government and nonprofits have worked hard for many years to meet the needs of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing communities, but it has been a catch as catch can approach,” said Annie Urasky, Director of the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing. “This survey tool will help us create a comprehensive picture of the needs of the community and develop a bold plan to better meet the needs of the communities.”
The survey follows a census that was taken earlier this year of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing communities– the first effort in more than 29 years to determine the Michigan population of individuals who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. The final step of the initiative will include sharing survey and census results with stakeholders in community meetings across the state and the development and release of a final report. Officials expect to deliver their findings by early 2019.
The last time the state of Michigan conducted a survey of needs for these communities was in 1989. Technology advances have dramatically changed the landscape of the world since that time, and officials want to capture how those changes are and are not assisting the communities at large.
“A key to the success of this project will be the involvement of our communities,” said Jill Gaus, DODDBHH Advisory Council Chair. “The survey has been developed with involvement from the beginning by this community. It is a key ingredient in the success of the project, because, as the old adage goes, ‘Nothing about us, without us.’”
The survey, which can be found at NotWithoutUsMich.org/survey, covers many everyday related issues such as communication preferences, education and employment experiences, access to healthcare and government services and priorities for state policies. Computer access will be available at numerous partner agencies in the state. For assistance or questions, individuals can call 313-437-7035 or email info@NotWithoutUsMich.org.
The survey will be available for eight weeks.