NDC was thrilled to attend this year’s Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID) conference held in Charlotte, NC, from October 26th to 29th. The conference featured a series of workshops and networking opportunities focused on collaboration, community engagement, and program development.
The opening keynote by Duane Mayes, Director of the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, focused on “Effective & Genuine Leadership.” His keynote delved into important themes such as building relationships, ongoing communication, community and employer engagement, storytelling, and a willingness to embrace change.
Session Highlights and Key Takeaways
Throughout the conference, NDC’s Strategic Support Team presented several workshops that shed light on critical aspects of community engagement and data-driven decision-making. These sessions provided a deep dive into strategies for strengthening community connections and leveraging data to enhance deaf youth education and employment outcomes.
"Community Conversations as a Strategy to Strengthen Engagement"
Presented on October 27th, this session examined the transformative power of community conversations. Attendees explored the diverse ways data-driven strategies can be used—from mobilizing communities to asset mapping and identifying areas for improvement. The workshop focused on how community conversations serve as a catalyst for systems change, shared knowledge, and resource development. The session highlighted systemic inequities and marginalization, participants were given strategies to recognize and amplify input from the deaf community on the importance of inclusion to drive positive change.
"Transition Planning: Connecting Deaf High School Youth to Opportunities"
In another session, NDC addressed the critical topic of transition planning for deaf high school youth. Practical insights and a roadmap for creating career and education pathways beyond high school were also shared. Attendees explored valuable perspectives on connecting deaf students to a spectrum of opportunities, including vocational training and higher education.
"Using Data for Deaf Youth Program Decision Making: Strategies and Practices"
This session explored the intersection of data and decision-making for deaf youth programs. Tailored for cross-agency state teams invested in improving deaf youth education and employment outcomes, the workshop featured insights from model state teams in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio. Attendees learned firsthand about the experiences and strategies employed by these teams in using data to support their priorities.
A Vision for Inclusive Futures
The conference’s closing keynote, “Creating the Moment: The Barriers and Process to Building a Bridge for Linguistic and Cultural Inclusivity,” was delivered by Michelle Montelongo. As an interpreter, Montelongo shared her experiences and illustrated challenges faced by the deaf community in a variety of settings.
Beyond the workshop sessions, attendees had the opportunity to engage in Statewide Coordinator for the Deaf meetings which covered a spectrum of topics, including the challenges in recruiting and retaining staff, and issues ranging from pay concerns to increased demands for hearing aids impacting budgets. Several states reported their collaboration with NDC on various projects, and amidst the post-COVID landscape, many are grappling with growing caseload numbers and implementing new tracking systems or undergoing restructuring.
A noteworthy highlight was the Meet & Greet event hosted by NDC on Thursday from 4:30 to 6 pm. This informal gathering drew over 30 participants who seized the opportunity to reconnect, provide updates on their work, and exchange valuable resources and ideas.
NDC has been a proud participant of the SERID conference for several years, and we look forward to continuing to build connections with state teams and communities. If you are interested in the presentation topics discussed in this article and would like to have our team give a similar training, please connect with us by emailing [email protected]. Additionally, to continue the conversation about the topics mentioned above, please head over to our Community Forum!