By Jesse Lewis, Project Director
Recently we were awarded funding through the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, which is part of the Center at Sierra Health Foundation, to provide services to support our community’s inclusion in the Census 2020. Our focus is on making sure our Deaf and Hard of Hearing community is counted, because every one of us matters. To that goal, we will be providing workshops, videos, and outreach to prepare our community for filling out the Census form when it is time.
But first, what IS the Census?
Every 10 years, our government seeks to count every person living in the United States and collect information about each one of them, such as (but not limited to) age, race, sex, and disability.
Then what will they do with this information?
- The Federal Government will use the information from the Census to decide how to spend billions of dollars in Federal funds throughout the States.
- The Government will also decide how many seats each State has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Each seat = 1 congressperson. The more people living in a State, the more representatives we have in Congress.
- Community Organizations use the data to decide what programs they will offer in which areas.
- And more! The information can be used in many positive ways.
Why is the Census important to us?
While it is true that the Census does not ask us if we are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, unfortunately, it does ask who has a disability. We need to ensure that every person with a disability or a perceived disability, is counted as having one so that more funding is provided for services to the disabled. This may benefit our community one way or another, and definitely would at least benefit Deaf individuals with secondary disabilities. We need every one to take the time to fill out the Census, the the good of our entire community!
What’s coming next?
We will be educating our community about the questions on the Census, showing how to fill it out before it is officially released, and then assisting anyone who asks for help in answering the Census accurately. We want to make the Census accessible through ASL translation, both through the videos and through our direct services. In Fresno, particularly, you will see workshops and also staff in the lobby reviewing the Census. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!
Let’s Get Counted!