Areas of Study


The CDDA is a Gallaudet-based non-partisan organization championing the development of democratic skills and habits through debate, civic engagement, and disagreement in English and ASL.

The core values of the CDDA are centered around providing students with an inclusive environment where all perspectives, experiences, and beliefs are respected and appreciated. Students in the CDDA will develop their skills in active listening, critique, and persuasion all while building a network with individuals both inside and outside of the deaf community as they work together to become advocates for positive change in their communities and country.

We aspire for an American democracy in which deaf people have the knowledge, skills, values, access, and motivation to:

  • participate in difficult but productive conversations across diverse identities, communication and language modes, experiences, backgrounds, and viewpoints
  • analyze, articulate, and critique values, beliefs, and perspectives persuasively
  • make a positive difference in their communities and in the country

The CDDA team is composed of deaf and hearing faculty, staff, students, and alumni affiliated with Gallaudet University who share a commitment to constructive disagreement, debate, and civic engagement.

Program Outcomes


We believe access to competitive debate in ASL will enliven critical thinking, intellectual humility, reasoned analysis, decorum, and rhetoric in the Deaf community. We strive to create a more tolerant, engaged, and perceptive Deaf community in which deaf and hard of hearing individuals become more knowledgeable and persuasive.


We believe the development of civic knowledge, skills, cohesion, and motivation through ASL is essential to making a difference through political and non-political processes. We hope for and work towards a future in which deaf and hard of hearing people are actively engaged in civic activities both inside and outside the Deaf community.


We believe deaf individuals deserve to have access to inclusive spaces that allow for critical self-reflection, the appreciation of differences, and participation in difficult conversations. Our goal is to establish a world of open-minded deaf people who welcome discomfort and seek growth by interacting with others that have different opinions, perspectives, identities, and experiences.


Gallaudet University

The atmosphere, ambition, and community of Gallaudet University further the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf people in a rapidly changing world by building social capital, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and rhetorical skills.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The values and practices of the CDDA including self-reflection, active listening, and social advocacy support our mission to create a safe and inclusive community with spaces where all are welcome.

Deaf Gain

The skills and habits developed by students as a part of the CDDA communicate the value of deaf people and deaf education to humanity by highlighting the diversity and contributions of the Deaf community.


Meet the Team

Brendan Stern

Assistant Professor

Lexi Hill

In-Class Tutor (ICT)

Blessed Mbogo


Adam Bartley


Jeffrey Miller

Assistant Professor

Romel Thurman

Student Assistant

Aubrie Bauer

Student Assistant

Sean Maiwald

Lecturer I

Lorelei Becktel-Lipscomb

Student Assistant

Eliyas Assefa

Supv Student CS Assist. (GTS)

Nikolya Sereda

Director of Communications

Contact Us

Center for Democracy in Deaf America (CDDA)

Brendan Stern

8:00 am-4:30 pm
8:00 am-4:30 pm
8:00 am-4:30 pm
8:00 am-4:30 pm
8:00 am-4:30 pm
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