NYC voter guides will now have sign language option

Empty voting booths at a Ridgewood polling place.  Eagle  file photo by David Brand

Empty voting booths at a Ridgewood polling place. Eagle file photo by David Brand

By Victoria Merlino

Deaf New Yorkers will now have the opportunity to view voter guides in American Sign Language, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the city government tries to lower barriers deaf residents may face while trying to vote.

“A strong democracy requires an engaged constituency,” said de Blasio in a statement. “We want all New Yorkers to stand up, get involved and vote for the issues they care about most. The new voter guides in American Sign Language will allow more people to do just that.”

There are over 200,000 New Yorkers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, according to a statement from the Mayor’s Office. 

Though voter guides will have closed captioning, new guides will also include a picture-in-picture insert of ASL interpretation for all video statement by candidates, as well as a series of short clips that explain local candidates and ballot proposals. 

The voter guides can be found on nyccfb.info

Election Day will be on Nov. 5, where residents will be voting on offices like Queens District Attorney

“Increasing access to essential voter information, particularly for underrepresented communities like Deaf and hard of hearing New Yorkers, is a core part of our mission at the Campaign Finance Board," said Eric Friedman, the assistant executive director for Public Affairs for the NYC Campaign Finance Board & NYC Votes, in a statement. “We're thankful to the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities and Democracy NYC for working with us to implement these American Sign Language interpretations so all New Yorkers are empowered to cast a ballot that counts.”