Home > Announcements > MDC Request Urgent Action From MI Deaf Community!

MDC Request Urgent Action From MI Deaf Community!

Note: You can download the letter at the bottom of the post.

Guest Vlogger Jeannette Johnson explains the letter in ASL:

The Michigan Deaf Community Committee is asking all of you in the Michigan Deaf Community, to send in this letter to your state representative and senator. Please replace anything that has [x] with the appropriate information, and alter the letter to be more personal. This will ensure that the legislators pay more attention to what we have to say.  To find out who your Michigan representative and senator are, go to vote-smart.org and fill in your zip code. By you taking action on this, it is our ultimate hope that this will improve the quality of our lives, and as part of self-determination, enable us to further participate in the political process.

Download the letter to legislators: letter_legislators

Find your local senator and representative: www.vote-smart.org

  1. asdfkjl
    May 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm


  2. May 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm
  3. Mishka Zena
    May 19, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    That’s a great vlog.

    I find it very odd that the meetings are closed to the community, effectively blocking any input from the community. Not being transparent and unresponsive to the community they serve? What’s up with that attitude?

    I hope this will be investigated.

    • May 19, 2009 at 11:14 pm

      I hope this will be investigated too, MZ. Hopefully a lot of us are sending letters to the legislators on this matter. I sent in mine Sunday evening.

      I am sure MCDC and the RRC are *not* happy about this, but unfortunately, it had to be done.

  4. Aaron
    May 20, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Thanks JJ, 🙂

    • May 20, 2009 at 10:04 am

      No… Thank YOU for taking action. It’s for all of us. 🙂

  5. Sheryl Emery
    May 21, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Deaf MDC & Deaf Pundit:

    Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address stated: “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom– and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”

    Under MCDC, the Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DODHH) represents the deaf and hard of hearing people of this great State of Michigan. No greater words characterize the ideology which I, Sheryl Emery as Director bring to the DODHH; that this office shall be of, by, for the people. This agency is also committed to keeping the people informed. However, I must balance the public desire to know with the need to safeguard our testing mechanism and a healthy dose of respect for the committee members whom have tirelessly given their time and energy without compensation to help sketch these rules when DODHH was without a director.

    In this nation we are afforded the right to question our government not only can we, but we must and should. The rules and regulations meeting are closed. This is for the purpose of being able to discuss components of the new interpreting test and rules that impact the provision of interpreting services. Discussing the information publicly may jeopardize the validity and reliability of the test. The meeting is not a violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA). I have verified this with our FOIA and OMA Director. This committee only makes recommendations. DODHH and I as Director still ultimately make the final decision to accept, modify, or reject the committee recommendations.

    This agency does welcome your concerns and strives to be responsive as reasonably possible.


    Sheryl Emery, M.A., Director
    Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing

    • May 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm


      None of the staff at DODHH or MCDC were elected into their positions.

      With that being said, I do want to make it clear that I am very cognizant of the fact that all of that happened before you were hired for the DODHH director position. Any criticism is certainly not directed personally at you, Sheryl. I for one, do appreciate the awkward position you are in – having to defend and explain the decisions and actions of others.

      Now, I have to be blunt here. How is seeing the committee members in action, supposedly on our behalf, and as agents of our government disrespectful? I don’t think that anyone means disrespect by seeking transparency. Everyone should understand that this committee was selected and began its work under the direction of Duncan Wyeth, the director of MCDC. Without meaning any disrespect, I have to also point out that we don’t know how the members were selected. All the MCDC and DODHH staff who chose the committee are hearing.

      Furthermore, nobody is going to believe, (I certainly don’t) that 100% of the committee meeting is about the QA test and nothing else. While the committee may (not saying it is) be allowed to hold closed sessions about the QA test only, there is no reason for closing all the meetings all the time.

      Your remark about the committee not being compensated strikes me as very interesting because with the DODHH Advisory Council, the council members’ expenses are covered. Namely their mileage and meals. Interpreters and CART are also provided which is all footed by the taxpayers. Are you telling me this is not happening with the PA 204 Rules Committee and that they’re totally different?

      You said: Discussing the information publicly may jeopardize the validity and reliability of the test.

      I have a hard time understanding how this will jeopardize the validity and reliability of the test. I can’t help but feel that making this claim without pointing to anything concrete is not really transparent. It simply fuels suspicion. This is not covert ops stuff. If you are talking about statistical reliability and validity, you are talking about whether the questions actually test what its supposed to test, and whether the results are consistently within a certain range.

      So, please explain how opening the committee’s meetings to the public can jeopardize that. I would think that having people who don’t know anything about sign or interpreting or testing, which definitely describes many of the committee members, would be what jeopardizes the QA.

      Regarding your verification with the FOIA and OMA Directors, I have to wonder why you consulted with the FOIA director. FOIA has absolutely nothing to do with this matter. We did not file a FOIA request.

      Onto your OMA director giving his official opinion that closing all the committee meetings, therefore disallowing the public to witness the regulatory process, is not a violation of the OMA…. My response is that then he should put that in writing on official stationary, including the reasons for this opinion, and sign his name to it. After that’s all done with, then you should post it at the DODHH website for all of us to see. No disrespect intended, Sheryl, but there is no reason why the public should not get that information first hand.

      Your statement about DODHH and you as director, will ultimately make the final decision to accept, modify or reject the committee recommendations, makes me do a double-take. By DODHH do you mean all the staff? Is Duncan Wyeth, the main player of all of this, included in the group that makes the final decision? And won’t there be public hearings on the proposed rules? I’m sorry to say this, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

      The bottom line is that we, the stakeholders, want to see how this works. And I along with everyone else who I know, prefer to get our information first hand and draw our own conclusions about it. Second-hand information is second-best. And having someone else tell us what the information means insults my and others’ intelligence. You know as well as anyone, Sheryl, that Deaf people have been shut out of far too many things, even things that directly effect them. It’s time for that to end.


      Deaf Pundit

  6. Sheryl Emery, Director DODHH
    May 26, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Dear MDC & Deaf Pundit:

    No criticism intended and none personally taken, however; regardless of the fact that all of this happened before I was hired, I am the one who must ultimately lead DODHH and respond to public concerns. Once I was hired, Duncan turned over all DODHH responsibilities.

    Hindsight is always 20/20. We can blame Duncan, we can blame MCDC, we can blame staff and the rules committee. However some of that blame rest squarely on the shoulders of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Community, including myself.

    For years we the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Community have known DODHH was in peril, indeed struggling, understaffed, and invisible in representing the Deaf & hard of hearing community in state government, and without power. When staff were cut, when needed services failed to materialize, when funding was not allocated, when rights were tread upon, when DODHH was moved from department to department where was the outcry? By the time Chris Hunter announced his retirement many of us had become apathetic and uncaring. It took a small group of people willing to step out of their comfort zone to fight for DODHH survival.

    We have finally come to realize that we do have power and that we can make things change if we are willing to work together toward our common goals. This interpreter bill brought many of us together. The threat that DODHH would not have leadership brought many of us together across organizational lines, across racial lines, across hearing ability lines.

    Duncan was thrust into dual leadership role that as an employee of the state he had no option to not comply with. The Deaf & hard of hearing community needs to get involved and our community needs to get passionate, not just the hands & voices of a few, but to be truly inclusive and representative. Membership in many of our deaf organizations are down. We are not represented on the mental health council, nor are we are not represented in independent living, zero, zilch, de nada, representation on rehabilitation councils as well. So instead of blaming we need to get busy. MCDC is not the enemy, apathy is.

    We do have the right and should question our government. I applaud your interest in rules and regulations. The committee requested that the meetings be closed long before I was hired. Now, I am the new kid on the block, do I come in and throw my weight around or do I respect what was done before I arrived? Only recently have I been faced with the dilemma if the meeting should be opened or remained closed.

    You are also correct in that other items are being discussed beyond the test during the meeting. Information pertaining to what is on the test is discussed, and still remains my primary concern. The law specifically states we will focus on: application, testing, revocation, suspension or limitation of certification, continuing education, renewals, and grievances, minimum credential requirements and levels, and minimum standards of practice.

    Yes, the committee was selected by staff. Should we blame the staff of MCDC and DODHH for being hearing or for doing a job they were mandated to do? If you will note that the composition of this committee includes several well respected and elected representatives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. I am sure there are many other names we could think of who are worthy of being on the committee but who are not.

    Maureen Wallace selected for her previous knowledge of the QA testing mechanism
    Helen Boucher elected President of MIRID
    Diana McKitterick elected president of MDA
    Brenda Neubeck representative of HLA
    Jill Gaus – Deaf Blind Community
    Christopher Hunter previous Director of DODHH representing deaf community
    Kenya Lowe representing deaf community and African American interest
    Kelly Flores interpreting community-RID
    Claudia Lee interpreting community-NAD
    There are also representatives from Legal, legislative, and educational community who where selected because they are included as part of the rule making requirements or because they were mentioned in the law.

    Now the issue of compensation is quite different thanthe issue of reimbursement. Compensation is generally considered payment for your services and or time. The members of this committee receive NO compensation. Staff members were putting up their own personal funds so that committee members could have refreshments during break. Meals forget it, not provided or reimbursed. If you will also note there has been no advisory meetings since last May. The governor has made no appointments nor is money in the budget to cover cost of meetings.

    There will be public hearings and time for public comment. None of the information will come second-hand. Everyone will see the information in entirety prior to the public hearings. The public will have a chance to draw conclusions and make comment at that time. I think the concern you express is not so much of getting info second hand but not having a part in the decision making process. The decisions are made in my office, and in my office only, not in committee.

    Now you stated the bottom line is that stakeholders want to see how this works. May I ask a question? Why wasn’t a formal request made instead of a complaint?

  7. May 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm


    I apologize for not responding sooner. I’ve been busy with other matters.

    Numerous formal requests were made by several individuals. We were blown off.

    • May 26, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      To follow up more on this –

      Our concerns is that we are not being allowed in the meetings to observe and to make our own judgments on what is happening. By closing the meetings to the public, and having you tell us what’s going on there … that IS second handed information.

      It’s not about being part of the decision making process. That comes when the public hearings and comments are open. And really? ALL of the information will be presented in its entirety?

      Then why are the meetings closed?

      And lastly, Duncan made this decision to close the meetings. And I think we should have HIM answer for his decision.

  8. August 17, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Hi my name is jamie frank and deaf.. I live with my girlfriend in canton, michigan … I really need help for job .. My ex work roofing and guttler.. ..I move here michigan from mass, boston ..I don’t have car or place to live I need help get an place and car too … please help me thank u email is annehirsch@tmail.com and I am deaf have viedophone is 1 734 259 3152..

  9. February 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was once a entertainment account it. Look complicated to far introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

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