Two women standing inside in front of a sign that says "Applied Development." They are using American Sign Language to sign "Hi"

This summer, Applied Development staff attended two conferences that focused on building resources for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Persons. The joint ADARA (American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association) and AMPHL (Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses) Conference held in Baltimore focused on bringing together professionals from across disciplines to, “address common barriers by sharing information resulting in more effective solutions.” The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Conference worked around the theme, “Come Together, Work Together, Thrive Together.” 

Both conferences presented a wide variety of speakers, panels, and workshops geared towards providing more effective services for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. As champions for accessibility, we are pleased staff from Applied Development attended these important conferences. Here are three takeaways from the conferences. 

Building resources takes a cross-disciplinary approach.

Both conferences brought in a variety of professionals from across disciplines, all focused on different aspects of accessibility. The joint ADARA and AMPHL focused more on health disparities, access, and even mental health concerns. Applied Development interpreters Michelle Livengood and Lindsey Lantz attended the RID conference, which included panels on everything from diversity to workplace inclusion. Applied Development was excited to be part of these conversations, building a diverse perspective of accessibility. “It was absolutely heartening to see  all the different aspects that form a culture — language, art, services and education, just to name a few – gathered for the common goal of accessibility and equality,” says Michelle. 

Our service offerings grow from what we learn from others. 

Most HR professionals know that professional development benefits employees and the company, from boosting morale to retaining talent to developing skills. Conferences provide a great opportunity for professional development and learning. “The RID conference was an opportunity to take workshops directly related to our work and learn about the latest and greatest so we can continue to stay current and address challenges within the culture and the constantly evolving world,” says Lindsey. 

Scheduling Coordinator Nicole Morgan was one of the staff members who attended the ADARA/ AMPHL conference in Baltimore. Although we know that not every Hard of Hearing or Deaf person has the opportunity to learn American Sign Language (ASL), conferences help us learn how others are facing similar challenges. They also help us figure out how we can further develop or change our services. The ADARA/ AMPHL conference continued to facilitate the “in-house conversation about how we can be of service to the professionals represented at the conference who are late deafened and/or do not use ASL for other reasons,” says Nicole.

Conferences also allow us to help others learn. 

We all attend conferences to gain experience and exposure. Nicole also noted that many professionals at the ADARA/ AMPHL conference see the detrimentsof not having equal access in the workplace. Our mission at Applied Develop is to ensure that people of all abilities can communicate effectively. Accessibility means, among other things, effective communication, which leads to productivity in the workplace. “Exposure to our services to a new audience was impactful,” says Nicole. We strive to make our services available to increase accessibility for all. 

It’s always exciting to see so many people from diverse backgrounds unite to discuss the important role interpreters play and to ensure the success of a common mission: to provide equal access and advocate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community,” adds Lindsey.