Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day happens every two years. An important part of Lobby Day is recognizing some of the many deserving individuals and organizations who are positive influencers and have made significant contributions to the advancement of deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing Minnesotans.
[Title slide with MNCDHH’s logo and the following text, “2021 Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day. Welcome!”]
[Slide with MNCDHH’s logo and the following text, “2021 Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Lobby Day. Jessalyn Akerman-Frank. Director of Community & Civic Engagement”]
[Jessalyn Akerman-Frank appears onscreen and begins to sign.]
Jessalyn: Hello, I am Jessalyn Akerman-Frank. I am the Director of Community and Civic Engagement at the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing, (MNCDHH). Welcome to the 2021 Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Lobby Day. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it. However, we knew that we would not let the pandemic stop Lobby Day. Lobby Day is hosted by MNCDHH, and its done with the guidance and partnerships of community members and organizations. We are so happy that our Minnesota community and friends have gathered together, virtually. Today is about advocacy, community, making a difference, learning, and sharing. It is my pleasure to introduce MNCDHH board chair, Michele Isham.
[Michele Isham appears and begins to voice. Also present is CDI Jimmy Beldon who begins to interpret.]
Michele: Welcome to the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing virtual Lobby Day. My name is Michelle Isham, and I’m the chair of the Commission. In all the years I’ve served on the Commission board, and as chair, I never thought we would have a virtual Lobby Day. I’m sure you feel the same. Here we are, and thanks to technology, we can still have some sort of an event for our community. Our theme this year is “Communication access saves lives.” An important theme that impacts all of us, deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing in all geographic locations across the state. It has a different meaning this year with COVID-19 and in this great state of Minnesota, we have seen firsthand through the Office of Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan what it means to communities when they do provide access to the information that we need so that we can save our lives. We know that technology is great, and we also know seeing each other face to face is even better. But on behalf of the board we want to thank the Commission staff for their efforts in organizing this day so that we continue to do the work as a community to influence the change we need to improve and save lives. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Darlene Zangara, Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing executive director.
[Darlene appears and begins to sign.]
Darlene: Welcome Minnesota community! Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. And yes, through this first virtual experience, which I know is new for many of us, and it may be awkward, maybe many will like it, but most of all, it has not always been our practice as to how we conduct Lobby Day. I am proud of my team and the work they did to invest, to be sure to give you an experience that we hope you enjoy. Technology is a beautiful thing. I am connecting with so many of you in spite of the pandemic. However, the value of in-person gatherings is something I am more aligned to. I want to see you, meet you, and hear from you. And I look forward to the day that we can do that again.
This year, our theme, “Communication access saves lives,” is a message that I have heard from many of you in many forms. Having access to information about COVID-19, protests, elections, healthcare and vaccines, our children’s education, our jobs, stay at home requirements, masks. All of the dialogues that are happening at a rapid pace. Decisions that are being made about our lives require us to have the same amount of information in the language that is ours. Whether it is spoken language, captions, American Sign Language, tactile communications, English, or other languages. The outcome is a direct impact on our everyday lives. Our community came together. Our organizations, our professionals, and advocates for access so that we can all benefit from the information.
It isn’t perfect. And we still have more work to do. But Minnesota community, you did it. You advocated as a community to influence change for this outcome.
[The full descriptive transcript is longer than the number of character limits allowed. Please access the full transcript at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WVBTe5mcvPcAsmQzqN_7c44laAMfYHBpcI1fcazdOg4/edit?usp=sharing]
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