A deaf student learned about a deaf adult living a dream they thought was impossible. A student organization founded at a college is connecting deaf students on campus. New summer programs are helping deaf youth connect with mentors, and thousands of deaf high schoolers across the country are learning how to advocate for themselves in a fun way.

These are just a few examples from the National Deaf Center’s 2019 Impact Report, “A Spark to Ignite #DeafSuccess.” It details the barriers NDC helped break down throughout the year, and provides a glimpse into the organization’s continued work in 2020.

“We are dedicated to sharing success stories, strategies, and all of the ways our diverse stakeholders have used NDC resources, tools, activities, and approaches to make a difference,” NDC’s director, Stephanie W. Cawthon, Ph.D., wrote in the introduction to the report. “Your energy and feedback continues to improve our work and outcomes for deaf youth.”

The report shows how — with ingenuity, intention, and impact — NDC moved the needle on #DeafSuccess, illustrated by stories, testimonials, and data.

Changing Lives

“I think it's an amazing experience because it applies to me in a big way,” said one Deafverse player. More than 2,500 students played the first ASL-accessible video game in 2019.

Through social media, email, the Internet and more, NDC encouraged deaf youth to achieve their dreams by sharing real-life examples of deaf people who have done just that. The #DeafAtWork campaign showed particular success in this area, promoted heavily to almost 14,000 followers on social media.

“I teach deaf education for middle school kids,” commented Rachel Pipkin in a Facebook post about deaf police officer Scott Daily. “One of my students told me he wanted to be a cop but that he couldn’t because of being deaf. I am so excited to show this to him tomorrow!”

Systemic Change

At the same time, NDC worked with national, state, and local leaders to enact systemic change that would break down silos and combat negative attitudes and biases.

More than 80 education and workforce support leaders from 39 states came together at the 2019 Engage for Change | state convening to connect with peers, share ideas, and improve existing initiatives.

“We are collaborating together and inviting more people to the table, starting a discussion that should have happened before,” said Rachel Torrence from the West Virginia state team.”I see a lot of change, and hopefully it will grow into the future.”

More than 181 local leaders came together in four different cities to brainstorm and implement community-based solutions to improve #DeafSuccess. Leaders in Columbus, Ohio, are working to create a mentoring program for deaf youth, while New York City is sharing data across organizations to make better decisions.

“This was a wonderful night and I truly learned so much,” wrote one Engage for Change | local event participant. “Having people from all aspects of the community come together to brainstorm is such a valuable/effective way of addressing issues like this from a holistic and intersectional level.”

Professional and Tailored Support

People from all walks of life completed almost 3,000 online courses to gain a deeper understanding of deaf people as a group and as individuals. Whether they were having their first experience with a deaf person or have worked with deaf people for years, these courses gave them the knowledge they needed to better communicate and provide access for deaf people.

For those who needed a more personalized approach, the NDC | help team answered more than 400 questions from deaf students, parents, professionals, and institutions, and more than 1,300 professionals have joined the NDC listserv to connect with each other since our launch.

People downloaded more than 27,000 resources from the NDC website to answer questions, provide support to professionals, or conduct further research. These resources, such as Supporting Deaf Veterans, A Toolkit for Disability Services Professionals, and Deaf People and Employment in the United States: 2019, contained evidence-based best practices, unique analysis, and greater insight into the experiences of deaf people in the United States.

Read the full report for more stories and information, and join NDC to make an even bigger impact on #DeafSuccess in 2020.