The data is surprising. Twenty-two percent. That’s the number of households in Mid-Michigan with at least one person who identifies as deaf, deaf blind, or hard of hearing.
“I think this community has been under recognized, under represented, and we’re going to try to create certainly awareness of the community and see if we can not help,” said Livingston County State Rep. Hank Vaupel.
And today, “The Michigan Department of Civil Rights” came together with other groups to share new data, in hopes of sparking change. For the deaf community, the support means everything.
“It is wonderful. I can’t say it enough because this September is deaf awareness month. But the most important thing really is that we have the opportunity to meet with the legislators. The community can meet with their legislators and it’s wonderful to see the community support as well,” noted Annie Urasky, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing.
The groups suggest that the data also shows a huge pay gap between the deaf and those with normal hearing. Despite the differences, Annie hopes to turn her struggles into a positive.
“From our community we’ve experienced many years of oppression and barriers and frustrations and we want to use this data in a positive way to help make change so we can change things. So frustration becomes opportunity and a positive experience,” proclaimed Urasky.
The final report will be sent to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights on September 30th. You can find the entire census here.