Community Needs Assessment Photo Cutline: MDCR Division on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Director Annie Urasky announced the needs assessment survey at a news conference Sept. 6. She was joined by State Representatives Martin Howrylak (R-Troy) and Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) of the Michigan Legislative Caucus on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing. (photo taken from the MDCR DODDBHH Facebook page.)

Sign Language Department is Partner in State Needs Assessment

September 19, 2018

LIVONIA, Mich. – Expressing the Madonna mission through service-oriented research, the Not Without Us research project is funded by the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing, which is part of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The operating project partners are Public Sector Consultants (PSC, the fiduciary partner) and Sign Language Studies (MUSLS). More than a dozen meetings of the project steering committee have been hosted by MUSLS on campus. The steering committee is comprised of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind people. The committee developed a needs assessment survey, which will be distributed to people throughout the state. The survey will be hosted online, with versions in English and American Sign Language. The findings from the survey will be shared with legislators, nonprofit organizations, and community members, in order to improve decision-making with regard to programs and services for people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, or Hard of Hearing.

The last such survey was conducted in 1989 (the only copy of this report known to exist is in the in the Madonna University library). 

The principal investigator for the project on behalf of Madonna is Dan McDougall, director of the University's Sign Language Studies (SLS) department. McDougall and his department have been responsible for ensuring the cultural and linguistic authenticity of the project, while PSC has managed the technical process of the research study. The SLS department has been responsible for ensuring the cultural and linguistic authenticity of the project, while PSC has managed the technical process of the research study. The SLS department also has helped to select the advisory board members. MUSLS managed the entire process of translating the 160-question survey into American Sign Language (ASL), and supervised the filming of the survey questions in sign language by a Deaf news anchor. Filming of the ASL version of the survey took place in August on campus, with a hybrid of Madonna University staff and Deaf talent from the local film-making community.

On Sept. 6, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights held a press conference and a legislative caucus centered around the Deaf community and the survey project. The survey will “go live” within the week. Watch the project announcement here.

The following Madonna family members were instrumental, over the past year, to the success of this partnership: 

Bretagne Whitford, Debbie Mitre-Smith (who has left SLS but is now the chair of the project committee), Sarah Kosel, Marciano Gongora, Christopher Nickin, Sue Boyd, Dan Boyd, Erin Parrish, the CDRC, Kevin Eyster, Jim O'Neill and Michael Grandillo.

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