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Maricopa County aiming to make voting easier for deaf, hard of hearing

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office is taking steps to make voting accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

About 1.1 million people in Arizona experience some kind of hearing loss, according to the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes told KTAR News 92.3 FM he wants to make it easy for them to register and vote.

“One of the things we’re exploring right now is potentially doing some videos online with closed captioning and also using American Sign Language to get through some of the instructions,” he said.

Fontes spoke at an event Wednesday hosted by the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. He answered questions about what his office is doing to support the deaf and the hard of hearing community for the upcoming elections.

He said his office has several technologies in place, including voting machines that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some polling locations also have workers who know American Sign Language and can assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing with the voting process.

“In places where we don’t, we’ve got some very clearly written instructions for poll workers to be able to communicate back and forth with voters,” he said.

In addition, Fontes said his office trains residents on how the registration and voting process works, and how they can help other voters.

“We’ve seen a lot of people more than ever want to be involved in the process,” he said. “By opening up these sort of classes, we’re really helping folks get engaged in the operation of their own government.”

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