via Argus Leader - USA Today Network
Access to local government and jobs is lagging for the hearing impaired in Sioux Falls.
That’s the message a group of hearing impaired Sioux Falls residents were spreading this week during a rally for Deaf Grassroots Movement (DGM) South Dakota in front of Carnegie Town Hall. They say city government needs to be more inclusive to the deaf community and that means providing more interpreters at official proceedings and make closed captioning available when viewing public meetings online.
“Though great strides have been made for many people with disabilities, the deaf and hard of hearing community often feels left out,” said Barry Carpenter, a 59-year-old truck driver who’s been hearing impaired his whole life. “Ramps and elevators are now commonplace and … braille and auditory accommodations are often made available for those with vision impairments. But accessible communication for many deaf and hard of hearing people is often an afterthought or simply not made available."
Thursday’s rally made Sioux Falls one of 118 cities across the country to hold awareness demonstrations this year to shine a light on what Carpenter and DGM say is a lack of communication access and barriers in employment and education that deaf and hard of hearing people face every day.
According to DGM, 70 percent of deaf Americans are unemployed or underemployed, in part because employers are hesitant to hire an interpreter to assist in the interview process. And if a deaf person is hired, employers are worried about future interpreter expenses, said Rick Norris, executive director of InterpreCorps, an American sign language interpreting agency.