Academics

The #GallaudetVotes nonpartisan democratic engagement initiative is a part of Gallaudet’s ALL IN pledge (https://allinchallenge.org/), signed by President Roberta J. Cordano, to encourage civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation leading up to the November 2022 midterm elections. #GallaudetVotes was created by the Center for Democracy in Deaf America (CDDA) with support from the Office of the President, Athletics, the Offices of the Provost and the Dean of the Faculty, and Student Engagement and Leadership.

To increase democratic engagement at Gallaudet, we need leading voices. Faculty, student organizations, and sports teams drive the life of the Gallaudet community. To that end, the President’s Office, Provost Jeffrey W. Lewis, ’76; Dean of the Faculty Khadijat K. Rashid, ’90; Athletic Director Warren Keller, ’11; Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Programs Brandon Williams, ’19, and Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Michelle Gerson-Wagner have committed to provide incentive, structure, and accountability to improve civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation at Gallaudet.

As a part of this collaborative effort, organizational student leaders and their faculty/staff advisors, athletic coaches and team captains will educate, engage, and register members of their organizations and teams with the goal of 100 percent voter participation for all organizations and teams on campus. 

Athletic coaches have committed to democratic engagement by:

  1. signing the ALL IN Voter Engagement Pledge; 
  2. hosting meaningful conversations about the upcoming elections; 
  3. encouraging their student-athletes to attend democratic engagement events on campus and online; and 
  4. participating in the ALL IN challenge in which key student leaders and teams and organizations with 100% participation of eligible voters will be honored by President Cordano, University Communications, and Gallaudet Athletics at an end-of-semester celebration.      

The civic education and democratic engagement component will be ongoing. CDDA, with the support of Professor Amy Stevens’ political communication class and university partners, will host in-person and virtual panels, booths, and events in the next several months to educate people about the issues and candidates, help people register to vote, and empower them to make a positive difference in their communities.  

Separately, CDDA is the new home for SignVote. Launched by Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) in February 2020, SignVote is a nonpartisan platform spotlighting and featuring accessible voter content and resources made available in American Sign Language (ASL). Its goal is to promote greater participation and engagement from the Deaf community in our nation’s political processes. 

While housed at CSD, SignVote developed a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube and a dedicated website with a central video library continually updated throughout the election cycle, voter registration materials and information, a voter toolkit on general voting and electoral issues, and an ASL Voter Hotline from the National Association for the Deaf

SignVote also formed a coalition with several leading advocacy groups, including: Council de Manos; Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network; DEAF, Inc.; Deaf Queer Resource Center; Deaf Women United; DPAN-TV; Gallaudet University; the National Association for the Deaf; National Deaf Black Advocates; and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Under CDDA, SignVote will continue to fulfill its mission of informing and engaging deaf communities throughout elections by developing and sharing resources in ASL. Through a new partnership with the National Archives, CDDA will have access to holdings from the National Archives to assist in developing more voter content and resources in ASL for SignVote.

CDDA’s resources will be spread across its three areas of focus – debate, disagreement, and civic engagement. This will change how and when SignVote fulfills its mission, but will not prevent the development and dissemination of accessible voter content and resources. SignVote is expected to be fully operational next fall.For more information about these two initiatives, contact Dr. Brendan Stern, CDDA Executive Director.

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