The 2024 American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA) conference, held May 29 to June 1, in Atlanta, Georgia, showcased the important and varied work Gallaudet is doing to improve the lives of people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind. More than two dozen faculty, staff, and students took part in the program, which encompassed the fields of counseling, education, interpretation, and more.

Gallaudet students and faculty were recognized with two awards: ​The Martin Seligman Student Psychology Research Award went to Sheila Maynard​, who is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, and the McCay Vernon Outstanding JADARA Article Award went to Dr. Deborah Schooler, Dr. Lori Day, Maynard, Dr. Ryanne Rosier, Ashley Pabon, Dr. Cara Miller, and Dr. Kathryn Wagner for their work on “Becoming Psychologists: Barriers and Bridges Encountered by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in Education and Training Settings.” 

Three women smile as they pose next to a screen that reads, "Gallaudet Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child Resilience Center: What do trauma-informed youth-serving systems look like?"
Dr. Lori Day (left), director of Gallaudet’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child Resilience Center, presented alongside Dru Balsley and Sheila Maynard (middle). Maynard won the Martin Seligman Student Psychology Research Award at the conference.

Day, who directs Gallaudet’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child Resilience Center (DHHCRC), said it was remarkable to have the university’s Psychology program so well represented. “In my time being involved in the program, I have not seen so many past, current and future affiliates in the same space together,” says Day, who noted that six presentations were delivered by current students and faculty, and another 11 were led by program alumni. That list includes one she presented with Maynard and Dru Balsley titled, “What do trauma-informed youth-serving systems look like? Applying the core curriculum on childhood trauma.”

One highlight for Day was a roundtable, led by Wagner and Dr. Lawrence Pick, focusing on Gallaudet Clinical Psychology doctoral program students’ research interests and projects. It explored the process of research, ethical considerations, and the implications of literature gaps. The structure was designed to welcome questions and feedback from the audience.

Woman stands to the side of a screen that shows a large blue circle with a smaller circle inside of it and then a third smaller circle inside of that.
Dr. Christine Gannon presented information pulled from her dissertation on deaf and hard of hearing college students’ experiences with alcohol. (Photo credit: Hayley Stokar)

The official theme of the conference was “Recover, Recharge and Reconnect,” which attendees did, says Dr. Christine Gannon, a senior lecturer in Public Health and a faculty collaborator with the Center for Deaf Health Equity. “It was also about recognizing that mental health is intersected with quality of life,” adds Gannon, who presented “Deaf and Hard of Hearing College Students’ Experiences with Alcohol and Related Consequences,” which is based on her dissertation research. She also collaborated with Dr. Poorna Kushalnagar, Gallaudet’s Senior Research Officer, and Sherri Collins on “Caregiving Services and Access by Deaf, Deafblind, Hard of Hearing Seniors: What Providers Should Know.”

Career development was another major topic. Social Work’s Hayley Stokar and Business’ Hollie Fallstone teamed up for a workshop on “Bridging the Gap between DHH College Students and Mainstream Employers: Insights from Career Center Professionals.” Dr. Julie Tibbitt, Director of Gallaudet’s Office for Career Success, led a presentation on “Empowering Career Journeys of Deaf Individuals who identify as DeafDisabled,” and was part of the group that shared “Lessons gleaned from the first-ever national Deaf Employment Summits.”

Dr. Gabriel Lomas, Director of Gallaudet’s Counseling Program, presented on school threat assessment, preparing for court, and forensic issues for deaf people in the criminal justice system. Attending ADARA is always inspiring for him because attendees have a shared understanding of their work. “People have so many insightful questions that are specific to deaf clients,” he says. “The energy in the room is powerful.”

There was so much to take in, says Gannon, who appreciated the chance to see Gallaudet colleagues in this setting and learn from their work and research. They were able to support each other, which became especially important near the end of the conference, when two significant water main breaks in Atlanta created a citywide crisis. “It posed challenges, but the community came together,” Day adds.

Gallaudet’s Dr. Concetta Pucci, who presented on “Tactiling Mental Health Care for the DeafBlind Community,” says that despite the water issues, attendees continued to share their expertise. “The best part of the conference is that I was able to discuss ideas with other people who share the same passion as I do — advocating for accessible, inclusive, and equitable mental health services for the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities,” Pucci says.

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