For the first time in a century, the biennial conference of the National Association of the Deaf returns to Hartford this summer.

The conference was first held in the United States since 1880, and has been held every two years for the past 50 years.  The 1917 conference was the only appearance in Hartford.

The 2018 edition, July 3-7, 2018, will feature multiple education tracks, seminars and workshops, including specific training sessions in racial justice and “the real way to be normal a round deafblind people.” The conference will begin with “an inspiring Opening Ceremony” honoring 200 years of “deaf education and contributions made in our community,” conference organizers indicate.

NAD President Melissa S. Draganac-Hawk said “The location and timing of the conference has a special significance, the 200th Anniversary of the founding of American School for the Deaf in Hartford.  This momentous event also served as the basis for the conference theme.  The serialized signs memorialize the main effects of the partnership between Thomas Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc in laying the groundwork for Deaf Education in America.”

Sessions include Best Practices for Communication Accessibility at Professional Sports Venues, Navigating the Gray Areas of Hearing-Deaf Dynamics, Achieving Legal Recognition of Sign Languages, and Entrepreneurship for All, among nearly 50 choices available to conference attendees. Workshop papers presented at the conference will include career and professional development topics as well as personal development, among the tracks offered. For instance, typical workshops include those on workplace interpersonal dynamics, career advancement, leadership and communication abilities, networking skills, and more.

The 54th NAD Conference will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center.  The NAD will partner with three other organizations during this conference — the National Deaf Education Conference (NDEC) will be hosting their conference and will handle and take charge of the Education track; Deaf In Government will handle and take charge of Government Employment Training (GET); and the Registry of Interpreters (RID) Region I will handle and take charge of the Interpreting track. The remaining education tracks are the responsibility of the NAD.

Delegates to the  Biennial Conference are members of State Associations and Affiliated Non Profit Organizations (NPOs) who are attending from throughout the country, and participating in the organization’s Council of Representatives.  Biennial NAD Conferences are specifically tailored for deaf, deaf-blind, late-deaf, hard of hearing and hearing consumers, educators, professionals, and business owners and managers.

The conference will also feature an exhibit hall that will be open to the public.  Organizers predict that more than 2,000 people are expected to come and browse through the products and services that will be featured.

The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. The NAD today ensures that the needs and concerns of the nation’s deaf and hard of hearing community are well represented on the federal level through collaborative and cross disability efforts with consumer based and professional organizations.

In recent years, Atlanta was the 2014 host and Phoenix was the location in 2016.  Two years from now, the conference will be conducted in Chicago. The NAD mission is “to preserve the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people.”

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