Oregon state government is launching a new effort to support deaf and hard of hearing Oregonians. Held quarterly, New American Sign Language (ASL) video workshops tap native-speaking ASL interpreters to convert agency messages into video instructions that improve access to online services for these traditionally underserved residents.
In recent years Oregon has increased accessibility to Oregon.gov websites for blind and disabled residents. This new effort illustrates a continued desire to expand access, this time for Oregon’s deaf and hard of hearing population.
“It is so important that government services are accessible to all citizens. For too long, deaf and hard of hearing Oregonians have struggled to access programming and services that many of us take for granted. This new development is a first step towards righting that injustice and ensuring that every Oregonian is treated equally. This is great news!” said State Senator Sara Gelser.
The Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Program, the State Chief Information Officer’s E-Government Program and Salem CCTV partnered to deliver the two-day workshops at no cost to state agencies. The centralized approach allows agencies to better support the deaf community without worrying about the video tools, training, skills, or budget for ASL interpreters.
“Agencies arrive with their script and leave with an ASL video that will support our deaf and hard of hearing residents.” said Ashley Carson Cottingham, Director of Aging and People with Disabilities for the Department of Human Services, “By making this as easy as possible for agencies, we will begin to see needed improvements as the year progresses.”
“Senator Gelser challenged us to find a better way to support this community. The former President of the Oregon Association for the Deaf, Chad Ludwig, taught us the importance of an educated native ASL signer. Salem CCTV enthusiastically offered their free services to our programs and will also air the videos on their local Comcast channel. It’s a truly collaborative effort that’s unique to Oregon.” said Wally Rogers, Oregon E-Government and Transparency Manager.
About the Oregon E-Government Program The Oregon E-Government Program was established through Governor’s Office Executive Order in 2001 and is administered by the Department of Administrative Services. The Oregon Legislature further supported the program by enacting legislation in 2011 that established an Electronic Portal Advisory Board to advance the effectiveness and delivery of new online services to the public.
The program works with Oregon government organizations, helping them to conduct state business online and improve public access to government information.
About the DHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program The Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (ODHHS) program provides interpreters for clients that are members of the deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing communities.
The Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Advisory Committee (ODHHAC) assists the Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Program (ODHHSP) by providing information and expertise on issues affecting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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