Ask Howard Anything February 2020 Transcript

NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum sits at his desk. The NAD logo appears on the bottom right as a watermark.

HOWARD: As we approach April 1st, no fooling… April 1st is actually Census Day! The U.S. Government uses the census to track how many people there are in each area to determine there’s enough services available for that area — such as medical, social security, welfare, schools, and other resources. The goal of the census is to find out the number of people in that specific area and make sure there are enough services in that area, then in a different area if there’s less people there, then the  services would be different as they wouldn’t need the same amount of resources as the other area with more people. The number of people in each area is how the U.S. Government determines the amount of services needed in those areas. The census is important and it happens every 10 years, such as in 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, now it’s time for the 2020 census which will begin on April 1st. In the past, the census used to be done manually by census workers who would come to your home and get your information, then later the census was done on paper and you could mail it to the Census Bureau. With changes in technology today, the census is now available online. You can fill out the census online yourself. The 2020 census will not ask for detailed information like your background or anything, it usually asks for a few things, like how many people live in your house, their names, ages, gender, race, ethnicity, and that’s pretty much it. The census does not ask about employment, background, resources you need, or anything like that. However, there is another survey that is much more detailed than the Census — the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS happens every year as opposed to the Census which happens every 10 years. ACS is sent randomly to only 3% of the American population. ACS is much more intensive and asks you about your health, employment, services you need, background, and language(s) spoken at home. That’s right, “languages spoken at home” is asked on the ACS. The NAD wants to change that. So the census and ACS are different. It’s important to write your information on each, you will get the census and maybe the ACS, do both! The deaf community should be counted. Again, ACS asks for language used while the census doesn’t. The census happens this year, and it’s important for you to participate in that while the ACS happens every year with a small number of random people. If you have questions about either of them, you can call their hotline using your preferred relay — they don’t have their own VP ASL line unfortunately. That’s one of the issues we’ve brought up with the Census Bureau, asking them to use a more deaf-friendly process for many reasons. The challenge in calling their hotline is one issue. Another issue is about filling out the census. This year is online and each of us need to fill it out on our own. However, for people who haven’t filled it out or missed the notice, the Census Bureau will have staff call those who haven’t filled it out. Again, this brings up the similar issue before — do they know how to use relay when calling deaf people? Are they aware of cultural issues when talking with deaf people?  The NAD has asked the Census Bureau to train their staff to be prepared when contacting and interviewing deaf people. The Census Bureau acknowledged this issue, but we are unsure whether they have completed such training. If the Census Bureau is still not able to reach you by phone, they’ll send people, which they call “field specialists” to knock on your door and ask you the necessary questions for the Census. Those Census Bureau field specialists must go to every house, every apartment, every condo, every place where they need to find people who did not complete the census. However, are they properly trained to communicate with deaf people? When they ring doorbells, are they aware some deaf people use signal alerts? Once the deaf person answers the door, how will the field specialist communicate with them? We explained this to the Census Bureau and they are aware of this issue. The Census Bureau agreed to hire deaf or signing field specialists. That job opportunity is now open, if you’re interested in doing that work — please apply! The link to more information is available in this post. The hotline phone number is also available in this post. We’ve also asked the Census to include ASL videos in their Census for deaf people who need that access — the Census has agreed to make their online form available in ASL and you will need to type your responses in English for each question. This took a lot of discussions between the NAD and the Census Bureau to make these positive changes! However, another issue still remains — when ACS asks what is the “language spoken at home”, we encourage you to tell them “American Sign Language” so ACS will count that! Unfortunately, the list of languages on the ACS does not include ASL. The Census Bureau originally indicated on their website that ASL is equivalent to English, which we know is not true. While we’ve told the Census Bureau this and they seem to understand, their list still does not include ASL. So when you fill out the ACS, please put “American Sign Language” as your language. We also encourage you to share your concerns with the Census Bureau about being deaf-friendly. We have a letter template available for you to use and send to the Census Bureau. Another exciting thing to share is about the Census Bureau having a booth at the NAD Conference in Chicago this summer. Come to the conference in my hometown! The Census Bureau will be there with forms available for you to fill out if you haven’t completed them by then. Again, this took a lot of discussions for them to change their perspective regarding counting deaf and hard of hearing people. We want to make sure the U.S. Government recognizes where we are and what services we need. Be counted! Thank you.

Video cuts to a dark blue background. Red alphabet letters of “N-A-D” in American Sign Language appears one by one in the center of the video. The copyright text appears in white underneath, “National Association of the Deaf, Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved”.