I was asked to participate in an event on Gallaudet University at the end of February. The event was to formally educate and discuss with professionals and students on the importance of the Cogswell Macy Act (CMA). The discussions with the professionals who work with students belonging to the low incident communities including: D/deaf, Blind, and DeafBlind in education. The students participating in the activities belong to the Blind, D/deaf, and DeafBlind gathering together at Gallaudet coming across the country. My responsibilities as a presenter included: sharing my experiences as a young DeafBlind adult, representing DeafBlind Citizens in Action (DBCA), and speaking of common interests shared between the three communities.
The professional discussion had three presenters including: myself representing (DBCA), Mark Richert representing American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), and Barbra Raimondo the Executive Director of the Conference of Education Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf. This presentation was to have an open constructive discussion on the CMA and other relevant issues for students with sensory disabilities. I felt this presentation was constructive in bringing all the diverse professionals together in a collaborative approach sharing different and similar needs and views. The student activity was about the U.S. government and policy process advocating for change. There were three speakers including myself and two Deaf ladies, students of Gallaudet. We shared our different and unique experiences on Capitol Hill with our congress persons. Again, I felt this discussion was effective in bringing a diverse student body together in an interactive and empowering manner across the sensory community.
As I reflect on this experience I am thrilled to been part of the Summit Action being one of the speakers. I was glad to represent DBCA and other DeafBlind individuals at this event having a presence no longer a hidden population. I must make a few acknowledgments including: Gallaudet for hosting a wonderful event, Mark Richert and Rebecca Sheffield at AFB for my travel and housing, Joey a volunteer of DBCA being my Support Service Provider (SSP) for providing great environmental access, DBCA and friends and family for their ongoing support. I greatly look forward to continue to serve as an advocate and to educate in a larger capacity.
– Hunter McGowan