The Power of Community Partnerships: Spotlight on NBDA

Published on March 16, 2021

This image shows the faces of fifteen individuals from different races, gender, and ethnicity clubbed together.

There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” To create healthy and safe environments to succeed and thrive for deaf youth, it takes more than a village — it takes an entire community of organizations working together.

In recognition of the power of community, the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) reached out to the National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) to learn and share more about the work they do.

NBDA’s work with Black deaf youth

NBDA has been part of the village uplifting Black deaf people for almost 40 years through its advocacy efforts for equal access to education, employment and social services. Organized and operated solely by volunteers, NBDA serves the community with a range of programming, including programs designed to support deaf youth.

The Collegiate Black Deaf Student Leadership Institute and Youth Empowerment Summit (Y.E.S!) are opportunities for youth to participate in week long programming that coincides with the biennial NBDA national conference.

“The Leadership Institute, CBDSLI, was important in the development of my identity as a Black deaf person,” said Arlene Ngalle, Program Specialist at NDC. “By participating in workshops, I gained knowledge and skills that benefited me both in college and after. Most importantly, I was introduced to Black deaf role models and other Black deaf peers.”

The current president, Isidore Niyongabo, shared that NBDA hopes to expand upon programming for youth, but as a non-profit, volunteer operated organization, they are reliant on the valuable contributions of donors.

To learn more about leadership training for Black deaf college students and youth, visit or email [email protected] and [email protected].

Research reflects the depth of the issues

Data analyses by NDC show that deaf people have fewer opportunities to complete their education and get jobs than hearing people, and these disparities are wider among BIPOC deaf people, deafdisabled people, and deafblind people.

The Postsecondary Achievement of Black Deaf People in the United States (2019) report unveiled that Black deaf people are underemployed and underpaid. Systemic oppressions are compounded for deaf people with multiple intersecting identities. This results in traumatic encounters, disproportionate access to opportunities, and exclusion.

But data reports only give us one perspective of the inequities. NDC has many powerful community stories shared by Black deaf people and youth role models, that provide deeper insights and their lived experience.

NBDA identifies barriers and calls to action

When asked about the existing barriers for deaf students and their call to action to better support Black deaf youth, NBDA President Niyongabo shared:

  • Lack of representation of Black deaf people and role models in high school and college settings. To fill this gap, NBDA created opportunities for Black deaf youth to attend and participate in programming at the biannual conferences.

  • Negative attitudes and biases and lack of cultural competency. Those attitudes create barriers for Black deaf people and impact advancement in both education and employment settings. For example, some vocational rehabilitation counselors do not offer the same motivation and resources for Black deaf youth like they do for their non-BIPOC peers.

The call to action at NBDA is a commitment to anti-racist initiatives, such as inclusive policies and practices and ongoing training on equity, diversity, and inclusion for staff. Simultaneously, schools need to commit to hiring more Black deaf teachers.

NBDA will work with organizations ready to accept the call to action.

”It will take a collective effort to dismantle systematic racism that we have inherited both in the educational system, as well as rehabilitation services,” Niyongabo said.

NBDA is available to provide guidance, training, and resources that may help prepare Black deaf youth for a better future, and ensure they have equitable encouragement and support like their peers. NBDA has over 35 active local chapters in your communities and are seeking opportunities to create partnerships with schools, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and other organizations serving deaf people in the community.

Other community resources

Community organizations or high school clubs can have a significant role in youth development. NBDA is only one example of many community resources available. NDC invites you to join us in efforts to engage communities as a part of your work, particularly communities who have been historically marginalized. Extend an invitation, connect, and collaborate with them.

Black Deaf Communities

Indigenous Deaf Communities

Latinx Deaf Communities

Asian Deaf Communities

DeafBlind Communities

DeafDisabled Communities

Queer Deaf Communities

Deaf Centered Organizations

Additional resources

The list above, while not an exhaustive list, will get you started. If you are looking for additional suggestions or resources in your area, please contact us at [email protected].

NDC offers many ways to improve your engagement with community partners:

Save This
ClosePlease login
Tags: black deaf, community engagement, deaf community

Other News Items

March 29, 2024
All News
...Did you know that more deaf women are going to college than deaf men? It's true! About 6.4% of deaf women are in college compared to 4.2% of deaf men (Bloom, Palmer, Winninghoff, 2024). But overall, not many deaf people are going to college compared to those who can hear. That's because there are still some big challenges, like sign language interpreter shortages, financial barriers, and not as many deaf students enrolling overall....
March 28, 2024
In The News and Opinions, All News
...For deaf youth, summer camps bring opportunities to build relationships, develop their identities, and strengthen skills for the future. Whether they are day camps focused on coding, virtual programs in the arts, or overnight outdoor adventures, research shows that summer programs can have a significant, positive impact on the lives of deaf youth....
Two person sitting and discussing while looking at a laptop.
March 15, 2024
...If you were unable to join us for our recent webinar, Breaking Barriers: Enhancing Self-Advocacy Skills & Navigating the Grievance Process for Deaf Students, don’t worry! We've got you covered with a recap of the essential insights on navigating college accessibility as a deaf student—especially when the process hits bumps along the way....

Need Help?

Fill out this form to get help from the NDC team.  Can’t see the form below? Click here to contact the NDC team.