Millions of people across the globe will celebrate World Hearing Day on March 3, 2020. On a local level, Sherri Collins, the Executive Director of Arizona Commission for Deaf and the Hard of Hearing will be signing the Pledge of Allegiance using American Sign Language (ASL) during the floor session at the Arizona House of Representatives. She will be joined by dozens of members from the deaf and the hard of hearing community, including the Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind, who will be signing along concurrently in the Senate.
Democratic Rep. Jennifer Longdon, a noted advocate in the House for disability rights and awareness, invited Collins to sign the Pledge in order to bring awareness to World Hearing Day. This year’s theme is “Hearing for Life – Don’t let hearing loss limit you.” The goal is to encourage appropriate and timely interventions for those who have hearing loss, which can facilitate access to education, employment, and communication. Last year alone the Arizona Commission for Deaf and the Hard of Hearing reached approximately 6 million Arizonans in need of resources and assistance.
It’s estimated that approximately 28 million Americans use American Sign Language (ASL) as a means of communication, which makes up approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population. ASL is the third most common language in the country. In Arizona, approximately 1.1 million people are considered deaf or hard of hearing.
When it comes to the workforce, a recent study conducted by Cornell University shows that an estimated 51.9 percent of individuals with a hearing loss are currently employed. According to Collins, this number should be exponentially higher.
The nod to World Hearing Day at the AZ House of Representatives will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance in ASL at 1:15 p.m. on March 3, 2020. Concurrently, the Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind will be signing the pledge of allegiance for the Arizona Senate at 1:30 p.m.