Voting information made more accessible to South Dakota deaf community

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 4:35 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When it comes to an election every vote matters. So this year, new videos have been made to help make the voting process more accessible for the deaf community in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Association of the Deaf provides videos on how to register to vote using American Sign Language.

This year they are taking it a step further. Also, including videos that explain the ballot issues: Initiated Measure 26, which deals with legalizing medical marijuana. Amendment A, the recreational marijuana question. And Amendment B, which would allow sports betting in deadwood. Also discussing the pros and cons of each one.

“Here’s the issue, here’s the impact that it may have,” said Kevin Barber, President of the South Dakota Association of the Deaf.

“These ballot issues were extremely important and they are complicated and there’s a lot of controversies involved. So we wanted to make sure the people understood it in a neutral and unbiased way in ASL-American Sign Language.”

Barber says easier access to information allows those in the deaf community to be more involved and active in the voting process.

“They have the power to change things and we want people to realize that and it takes all of us to exercise our right to vote and it impacts our lives, it impacts our accessibility and we want to make sure that we pick the right people to represent us in government,” said Barber.

Conveying the information through American Sign Language could even be the difference between someone voting or not voting.

“Not until they’ve seen videos in sign do they get a better understanding of the pros and cons so they feel comfortable in selecting how they are going to vote,” said Barber.

The videos are also captioned and voiced over to ensure no one misses out on voting information.

The videos are made possible through a grant funded by the Department of Human Services and Secretary of State. You can find the videos on the South Dakota Association of the Deaf Facebook page.

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