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Raising the Bar for Postsecondary Success Transcript

Elise Knopf: Hi, good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Collaborative Experience Conference. Thrilled to see so many people up this morning. Big cheer for yourselves for getting up and out this morning.

I am Elise Knopf. I work for Vocational Rehabilitation Services as the St. Paul Deaf and Hard of Hearing team manager, for the rehabilitation area manager. I have worked closely with our keynote speaker for the last couple years.

The National Deaf Center is an amazing research institution for all of us to be able to tap into.

The speaker's presentation is going to be a lot of fun, so I'm honored to introduce our speaker this morning, Dr. Stephanie Cawthon. 

She's from Austin, Texas. She's working as a technical assistant disseminating information at the center. She's the manager there. She works under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Special Education programming, OSEP. They've done amazing research. She's going to share with you. 

Also, she's a professor at the College of Education, preparing future teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing to do research. So people can help us in our field. It's just a big welcome, please, to Stephanie. Thank you, Dr. Cawthon.

[A slide appears that says, “Raising the Bar: Empowering Self-Determination in Deaf Youth Dr. Stephanie Cawthon, Director National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes”.]

[Stephanie Cawthon on stage.]

Stephanie Cawthon: All right. Ready? Ready to go? Let me see a show of hands. Who's ready this morning? All right. 

First, I want to say thank you so much for having me here. If you forget everything I say today, I'll remember talking with you at least. So, thank you so much for coming and working to support and encourage, and lift up our deaf children.  That's really the point of what we do every day is to make sure our deaf children succeed.

Today, I'd like to talk about strategies and our vision for the future and different perspectives as we help students on their journey, and as they transition into the work world.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, that has a quote on it by Maria Robinson.]

Stephanie: This first quote says "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." So, when I meet people and they say they've had language deprivation, we see that this is a huge issue in our community, that the Deaf Center we've looked at middle schools, high schools, postsecondary and we think what can we do to remediate this?

We meet people where they are. We can't change the past for those people, but we can create a better future. So, I want to encourage you all to think about that change of mindset. 

[Another slide appears that says, “Transition feels like”.]

Transition, that's kind of the buzzword right now. We're thinking about transitioning our students. And everyone always is going through transitions in their lives of many kinds.

Every day we transition into a new day. We're evolving. We're growing every day. 

And transitions are special because it shows people the connections they're making from their past through their present and onto their futures.

It's not easy to transition for high school students, for middle school students to make that transition into high school, for high school students to go out into the world of work or postsecondary education. Those are not easy transitions.

I'm thinking about two examples, and I have images of what it might feel like to make those transitions. 

[A slide appears with a picture of a man climbing the side of a snowy cliff.]

I don't know if you know this picture. If he looks familiar to you, It's the wall from the Game of Thrones.  Sometimes transition feels like an insurmountable wall. 

You're isolated. It's cold and windy out there. You're climbing just barely hanging on by your fingernails. And look at this guy's face, it's so determined.  He's not happy but he's determined. Life depends on hanging on. 

There's no one there to support him. There's no one to encourage him. He's alone in his endeavor. 

Just an aside, yesterday, I was coming in from Phoenix, Arizona, where it was 86 degrees, I might mention, and I got here, and it was 9. [Laughter] And I felt like I was facing the wall, quite literally. 

[A slide appears that says, “Instead of this....”]

Or maybe transition feels like this to you. 

[A picture appears of a bear cub on the side of a snowy mountain]

In this picture it's a meme, you've probably seen it on Facebook recently. It kind of went around.

There's, pay attention to the bear cub, watch what the bear cub tries to do. Just share you a quick snippet of that. 

[A quick clip is shown of the cub trying to climb to another bear at the top of the mountain.]

But the difference is the mom is there. The mom is maybe, you know, grunting grunts of encouragement to her little baby as he climbs the wall.

That's what parents are doing today. That's why we have so many parents here today, finding ways to encourage their little bear cubs. And I notice it's not always easy for them to encourage. They don't do it for themselves.  They have to teach the bear to learn how to be self-determined, and to be able to climb that wall on his own someday.

So I think those two images of transition might help us understand where youth are, either facing that wall in the first picture, totally alone, and some have those experiences with mama bear there supporting them along the way and other various community people supporting them as they transition.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the National Deaf Center for Postsecondary Outcomes logo.]

As Elise introduced me, again, coming from the National Deaf Center for Postsecondary Outcomes, I'm humbled and honored to be here among so many people who are out there in the trenches working day to day with deaf people.

We see nationally across the country we see so many opportunities and possibilities opening up for our young people. It's really an exciting time in our field. It really is. 

So, I wanted to just offer that perspective to Minnesota and let you know that you are one of the top in the Midwest. You are really doing a lot for our deaf and hard of hearing students. So, I want to thank you for all the support from the various organizations, from the various agencies that are doing, helping our deaf youth. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with text that says, “deaf... deaf people are not all the same” and several terms that are used to describe people with a hearing loss.]

One thing that we notice in our work is that deaf has many meanings. It's an identity. It's kind of an umbrella term, if you will, that encompasses many varieties of people with hearing loss. 

When we founded the Center, we thought long and hard about a description that would identify us and make sure that we were including the various groups in the deaf community.

And it wasn't really enough to say to people that this is the Deaf Center. So we created a video and it shows different deaf people's experiences, talking about their experiences in the world. And their own identities.

[The video Stephanie describes plays. The video begins with the statement, “Deaf people are not all the same. Different people begin to pop up as they describe their identity, experience, and their views.]

[A Slide appears after the video that says, “Transition: My story”.]

Stephanie: So, I'd like to talk now about my transition story. The narrative is part of how we learn about each other and stories are how we can ask students to tell us about themselves. About clients, we can learn through their stories. I think it's key to understanding someone is to understand their story. 

So, I'm going to tell you my story and then ask you to meet in small groups, and talk about a transition that you've gone through. What barriers did you face? What supports did you have during that period, and so forth. 

I grew up in Canada, part-time, then we moved to California when I was 8 to the San Francisco area. I went to Catholic school. I had hearing aids. My brother also wore hearing aids. 

My parents had had no prior experience with deaf people, and I was before the ADA era. So now I appreciate that students have so many more options. But I would sit in the front, I would watch the teacher, and I was pretty good with adults. I could understand adults fairly well. Not so much with my peers. Certainly, nobody who was sitting behind me. I didn't have much of a social life, that was pretty rotten.

So, I focused on the academics. I focused on what the adults were saying and that was my strategy. I had small classes, sat in the front. That was my strategy most of the time. My parents both have Ph.Ds., so they had very high expectations for me.

My goal from an early age was to go to college and perhaps even have more degrees after that. So, I have accomplished that goal. 

I went to college in Stanford and I was really excited going off to college. I thought I was a good student. I got good grades. My parents had high expectations. I'm going to do my best in college, the greatest college in California.

I got to Stanford campus all ready and shiny new freshman, sat in the front. But I was in a lecture hall of 300 students, so yikes, I couldn't hear anything, even in the front row. So I thought, okay, strategy one's not gonna work. 

So I went back to finding a friend. I had a boyfriend and he and I would sit next to each other, and he would try to repeat for me what was being said or take notes for me about what the speaker was saying. That was another strategy I used. 

But what would happen is when I'd go to see the professor, the faculty in their office maybe about paper corrections or a presentation I was going to give, they didn't see me as a serious student. 

And I said, “what do you mean I'm not a serious student? How do you know who I am?” They say, well, we always see you chatting with your boyfriend up there in class. We don't think you're paying attention in class. You don't seem like a serious student. 

I was pretty taken aback. I was pretty shocked that I would give that impression. And I was also surprised that in a class of 300 the professor would notice me in the back. 

He said, yes, you're very distracting. And I thought, okay. And I explained to him I couldn't hear and there was no access and that's what I was doing in the back, and he kind of just shrugged me off and said prove it. I need to see some proof that you're a serious academic student.

So, then I thought, what am I gonna do? I went to the office for students with disabilities which was a very new thing for me. This is in the 90s, the early 90s. So, they said, oh, we have note takers and I said, okay, that might help me.

After class, I got given somebody's notes. I couldn't understand at all how it related to the presentation. It seemed really disjointed from what I thought the class discussion had been. 

So again, I didn't feel very integrated with the class. The content seems not what I thought the class was going to be about. So, I struggled through with the note takers, taking fewer and fewer courses.

So, my academics were taken care of, and then I had to address the social situation. 

My roommate in the dorm really had a very challenging personality. She was fairly inflexible. She had her own special phone. The room was decorated in her own colors. She wanted her own phone in the room. And I said, well, if I answer the phone, I won't be able to hear them. 

And so for three or four months, every time the phone rang, I'd answer the phone and say hello, and say that I couldn't hear them but please hold a moment while I go switch phones, and then I'd have to go to my phone that had the amplification on it just to accommodate her colorful phone. 

So, it really was a great effort for me, and this was before iPhones and cell phones. There was no texting. There was no email.  We all survived on landlines back then, if you remember those. Few people here might. 

We didn't know about video relay. We didn't have web cameras. We didn't have anything like that back in the '90s.

So that was one of my biggest challenges with communication with the social life, with my family was through that telephone. I had to figure out how I was gonna stay in touch with them. So that was step one, getting that kind of access.

So for me, my identity as a hard of hearing person was born at that moment. And I started to realize, -it really hit me with school, with the way I was being perceived, with accommodations that I needed, how my roommate treated me, that I was different.

And so I had to start working on some strategies to overcome this. Luckily my parents had high expectations for me. I knew what the goal was, the goal was to graduate college. It wasn't an option to leave.

So I didn't even think of leaving. I knew I had to be a student. My parents are paying for Stanford, so, god, I had to stay there. But honestly when I look back to the whole situation, I think that the parents setting that high expectation, that was another thing I had to figure out.

And it kept me on track. 

So I think when parents set goals for their children, that's the parent's goal for the child. They want them to have access, that's a high expectation. And when access doesn't work through that transition process, it becomes more about how we're going to make that transition happen than the actual goal.

So the focus is on how we're going to overcome the obstacles that are thrown before us. 

So now I'd like you, having heard my transition story and my a-ha moment, to work at your tables and talk about some of the obstacles you've faced. You all know each other probably pretty well. Share a little bit about your transition with your seat mates and the people at your table and talk about what was key to your transition.

Let's focus on how the identity developed and how do those life skills start developing? If you had guidance, who was that from?

I'll give you like five minutes to talk at your tables about that key to starting that transition for yourselves. Go ahead, please. And if you need an interpreter, just raise your hand and we've got a lot of interpreters in the room who can come help you out.

[Video darkens for a second.]

I hope that you had some really nice discussions about your transition experiences. I saw a lot of examples about people describing access issues, isolation issues, low incidence struggles. And it does seem like we have some common stories for those students who are deaf and hard of hearing about transition, and even in our own lives. So, I've got more information about what's really happening these days. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears, that says, “What do we know about transition outcomes for deaf people?’.]

Elise talked briefly about data collection and research. At the National Deaf Center, this is what we do. We always start with data as the beginning of our conversation. 

We want to know what outcomes look like for deaf and hard of hearing students. And that's the obligation that we have, to help raise those outcomes for work or education, whatever it is those students want to do with their lives.

So, we were trying to close that gap that some of those students have between hearing peers and deaf peers. So, we want to make sure that they have the same outcomes as their hearing peers. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears that says, “It varies”.]

In terms, one of the things we do know about outcomes is that it really varies. The deflation population is not homogenous. Therefore, outcomes are not homogenous either. Some of it depends on what kind of services they have and how their plan really is individualized. And we all know that.

But it’s common that we still think about finding some kind of services that we have to figure out for a population that varies so much.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “NDC Data reports”. On the slide there are also the covers of three different reports done by the National Deaf Center].

We have a booth in the hall downstairs, with all of our materials, all of the research. We shipped a whole bunch of heavy boxes here, so we had to lug all those things. 

We heard a lot of complaints about how much we sent. But, hey, please, take them with you. There's so much to learn. There are three reports that we brought with us, so please collect all of them. That gives us some of the data, I've pulled some for slides today. 

But if you want the full report on what we found in our research, I think the hall is downstairs right underneath us here. 

So, the first report we have is a specific report for the state of Minnesota. I didn't realize we had other states here today, but we certainly have online access with all of our information broken down by state. So, if you want to download the particular statistics for your state, you can do that. 

We brought the printed copy for the state of Minnesota data here with us. And this is achievement, related to both educational outcomes and employment outcomes.

The second document we have is a report that we just published as a national report, just published this year. 

I mean, I know 2019 is almost over, so I have to remember is 2019 still this year or are we in 2020, yet? We're still in 2019, so it was published this year.  

So that's the employment focus data, and related to VR services, so what's happening with VR funding. 

And then the third report we have with us is undergraduate enrollment statistics. Thank you. So those who are entering into a four-year institution or technical college or two-year certificate program. Basically, it doesn't matter, any kind of postsecondary enrollment. So those statistics are in that data. That's also fairly recent. We just published that.

So I pulled some of the statistics from these reports to show you here, but it's just a little bit, but if you want to see the whole thing you can pick them up downstairs, just to give you an idea of what we do. Anna does not want to be left with all those things of boxes to dispose of, so please take them with you. Okay.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Education: Bachelor’s degrees”. There are two sets of graphs on the slide.]

I will explain the pictures that you're seeing just to make sure that we're accessible to everybody. We're looking at the bachelor’s degrees outcomes, and we're comparing deaf individuals with hearing individuals.

So, the blue bar chart is deaf individuals. The green one is hearing individuals. 

We're looking at national averages. 17% of deaf individuals go into a bachelor’s degree. 30% of hearing people on average. 

For the state of Minnesota, you'll notice that we're looking at 18%, which is a little bit blocked by the slide here, and the hearing percentage is 37%, quite a bit higher than the national average. 

So, notice, number one, the state of Minnesota is above average in terms of the nation, but the gap between deaf and hearing people going into those educational environments is larger.

So, whatever's working for hearing people here in the state of Minnesota, we need to make sure that we get something for the deaf folks here. Because we know the hearing people are doing all right. Yeah. But the numbers are good, but there is still a big gap. 

And we don't know what we can extrapolate from that at this point but just consider, if those hearing people are having that kind of success, what is it we need to do for the deaf folks to bring them up, to close that gap. I mean, that's what we want. That would be awesome. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Percent in Labor Force”. On the slide there is a pie graph.]

This image is showing the three different populations' employment. Showing employment outcome, we have three options here. 

60-61% of when you look at deaf individuals are employed full time between age 25 to 65 years old, if you're looking at the age demographic, which is higher than the national average, by the way. By like 20%. It's actually huge. In terms of it's really the most in the country of any demographic. 

When we're looking at unemployed deaf people, that 6%, that means that they're still looking for jobs in the workforce and they're not able. So they're actively searching for employment and unable to find it. That 6%'s a little bit higher than the national average which is 4%. In Minnesota here it's 6%. 

The third category is the one I find most interesting, and a little bit vague. The percentage of people who are not in the labor force is what we call that. They're basically not looking for a job and they're not working. They might be volunteering. They might be raising children. They might be doing something else with their day to day lives.

And we're looking at 33% of those people in Minnesota of the deaf population that is not in the labor force category. And Minnesota is lower than the national average, which is good, but if we look at the difference between not looking for a job, and looking for a job and not finding one, we really are finding that Minnesota has a much higher percentage of people working. 

And I think it's because we have a lot of successful placements that are happening here in this state. The national averages are quite different than the statistics here in this state. So I want to congratulate all of you here. Thank you so much for the work that you are doing.

[A PowerPoint slide, titled, “Employment Opportunities Increases as Education Increases”. Below the title has statistics.]

And of course, what we're looking at with this BA degree is we feel like it's, -we really want to pay attention to that because of the outcomes. But there are other options that are important, too. And I do want to recognize that a BA is not the be all, end all.

But let's look at the difference between having a high school diploma and a college diploma, a bachelor’s degree. If you're working as a full-time individual, if you only have a high school degree, only about 48% of those people are working full-time without any additional training or postsecondary education.

So, we're getting close to 50%. But those deaf people who have that bachelor’s degree, we're looking at 70%. So, when you think about the outcomes for employment, and this is without any additional training, any additional postsecondary education.

So we have all kinds of different statistics in the report downstairs that talk about specific outcomes, but if you're looking at the impact of education and higher education on a deaf person's life, look at that 60% of statewide employment, that one I just showed you in the slide before. You've got 61% of the deaf folks here employed.

And just think how much higher the percentage could be if everybody had that bachelor’s degree. I think we know that intuitively, but it's nice to see the data because this data really tells you what's happening in your state. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the text, “Some additional nuances…”.]

So that lets you know something about the population, but of course there's nuances because there's such diversity within the population. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Around 50% of deaf people in the United States have additional disabilities”. Under the title, there is an image of ten silhouettes. Half of the silhouettes are gray, and the other half are blue.]

So this slide says around 50% of deaf people in the United States have additional disabilities.

I remember 15 years ago, I was sitting in my office at the University of Texas. I got an email that asked me how many deaf people have additional disabilities. Somebody was looking for a percentage, an estimate. And at that time from what I knew, I said 40 to 50% maybe.

And this is from child data that we had on children. And that person said that is impossible. At max we're looking at 25%, there's no way that 50% of the deaf students have additional disabilities. And I tried to argue that I didn't necessarily have an agenda by saying that, it's just what my estimate was. And then on the national average we were really looking at 40 to 50%. 

But now we have information from the U.S. Census that says, yep, about 50% of people with a hearing loss have an additional disability. An additional, quote, unquote disability, which of course can range from anything to emotional, learning disability, trauma, physical disability. Anything that you can think of that's another factor that's affecting their daily lives. So think about that. What does that tell us?

So, if you're expecting students, you can expect that some of them are dealing with additional disabilities. What are the considerations that you need to add to those considerations? All that intersectionality is something that you really have to take into consideration.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a statistic on it.]

This statistic that I'm showing you is from undergraduate students today, so if they're enrolled in a college institution. When I asked them, when we look back on their high school years, only 50%-ish or so of them actually took any college level courses in high school.

Hearing students being asked about their high school experience, when they're already in college, about 60% of them have taken college level courses. Which tells me several things. the importance of having access to college courses before you go to college, which is a little bit interesting.

We have so many students now who are doing that in the hearing community. We have 50% of the deaf students who have had access to college level courses. Not bad, be nice if we could bring it up and make sure that we have more of them have that kind of access.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with an image of a calendar. Next to the image is a finding from NDC’s research.]

The other big difference we see is time. How much time it takes for a student to go from high school into college or some other kind of postsecondary training. For a deaf student it's on average five years between their high school graduation and college.

What's happening in those five years? What's happening in terms of transition planning, you know, we've got a transition plan in place. They graduate from high school. They come out of the educational system at 21 or whatever, and then they have this huge gap before they attempt college.

So, what do we do in terms of our transition planning to either accommodate that or be aware of that or to recognize that this might not be happening for five more years? I mean, some people start a family, get married, whatever. 

But that's a pretty giant gap that there are actually more adults by the time they go into college. They're at different maturity and development. They need things like childcare. They need other kinds of services to support them while they're in college because they're at such a different phase in their life five years after graduation from high school.

So, you're dealing with access not only as a deaf person, but also as perhaps a family member. And what do our transition plans need to incorporate to accommodate the fact that this person might not be going right into secondary education? 

Do we need to consider that? Maybe that's appropriate. Maybe that's the goal. Maybe if they're marrying and maybe they want to start a family and the transition plan just has to accommodate that. 

So, when we talk with disability services, support services at different colleges, whatever you call it in your institution, when we told them this stat, they had no idea. They had no idea that really what they were getting was a nontraditional student. That it was such a different situation in terms of scheduling services, in terms of student enrollment, financial aid. Changes a lot when they go in at that age. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the statistic. Below the statistic is ten silhouettes. Nine of the silhouettes are green and one is gray.]

Some people and, again, one of those statistics that you may think that you know but true biz, this is a low incidence population. If you look at deaf and hard of hearing students in any environment, we're going to be fairly small numbers.

So, when students go out of some kind of high school, most of the students are going to be a fairly small portion of their course. In this case it's 1.3% of undergraduate students are deaf. So only 1%. 

So, whatever those experiences you had in high school, especially if you were mainstreamed, and those strategies and tools you had to employ, you're going to need them again in a mainstream college environment or postsecondary training environment.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a statistic on it.]

We have statistics on developmental courses in math and reading in particular. This just means that these courses, students need to take to prepare them for college, so some of those basic level courses that they're doing as prep. Prerequisites before they get into college.

I think the common expectation is that a deaf student, a high percentage of them, are taking these developmental courses. But the statistics say, you know, that's not really true. It's not as high as we think. 

We're looking at 42% of deaf students had either a math or reading developmental course that they had to take before college. And math is much higher, not reading, and that might surprise some people, that it's the math developmental courses that a lot of these students need to take before they can enroll in college, more so than the reading courses.

But a lot of students do, too. A lot of hearing students do, too, it's not just deaf students. We're looking at 40% of them are also taking developmental courses. So, it's not about being deaf. 

I think our students reflect the general population that generally needs those kinds of developmental courses in order to enroll in college.

So, as you're thinking about planning and your expectations about developmental courses ,it's not always a literacy course of some kind. Math courses might be needed or none at all. So, there's just so much information you can glean from this research that we have and the data we have.

[A PowerPoint slide appear with a statistic.]

This is another surprising statistic. This is from the current enrollment in undergraduate technical training, or any student who's involved in some kind of postsecondary education, this is where we get these numbers from.

And we're doing some statistical assumptions here because we don't have specific numbers. We're looking at a range rather than particular numbers. And I think there's a perception that 90% of deaf students have VR funding or something like that.

And of course, every state has different policies related to VR funding for deaf students, but the national average, if you look at the range of students getting support from VR, it's very low. And maybe that's because they aren't aware of services or because the order of selection kind of work that VR is having to put in place, they aren't allowed. They don't have services. 

But the range of services is really low, .6% to 3.7%. So, consider that as well.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the text, “Deaf students have ambitious goals”.]

And one of the things I want to make sure that you know, right from the get-go, is deaf students do have very ambitious goals for themes. They do. 

We know that from stories from students in high school, from what we hear from people out of high school.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Deaf students enrolled in college expected to get…”. Under the title is data.]

Look at some of the data we have. This is data from students currently enrolled in college.

How many of them expect to get a bachelor's degree, and we're looking at almost 40% of those students expect themselves to get a bachelor's degree in college or training or whatever their postsecondary education is.

Even of those students, too, 25% of them are expecting to move onto a master's level degree. That's a fairly huge number. So, those are some pretty high expectations they have of themselves. 

In terms of a doctorate, 16% of those students enrolled in college are expecting to get a doctorate. Now, that's the hard one. I just think a lot of people don't, -you can all know why it doesn't necessarily result into 16% getting a Ph.D. but look at the expectations deaf students have for themselves. 

They're motivated. They're looking forward to advancement. And I think this is good for us to know that it's not like they're going into college with an expectation that maybe I'll finish, that maybe it will work out, that, no, they go in expecting to graduate.

[A PowerPoint slide appears that says, “How can we empower deaf students to realize their dreams?”]

Our question is, how can we empower deaf students to realize those dreams? They have goals, we know that. So how do we help them? What do we do? 

[A PowerPoint slide appears, “Transition process is critical to #deafsuccess”.]

And our hashtag here, you'll see it, it's #deafsuccess. Associated with the center, so you'll see that on all our materials, brochures, and social media uses that #deafsuccess, because we wanted to make sure we emphasize what can be done. 

But it's not just a hashtag. It means success as they define it, and success in their community, and how can we make sure that the entire community of deaf students is successful.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with an image of document with a checklist and a hand with a pencil. Next to the image is text that says, “Is transition a checklist?”]

So, looking at transition, here's a question. If we look at transition, what are we thinking about conceptually? A checklist? The transition checklist? 

Basically, what does a student have to complete before graduation. The courses they have to take, the financial aid application they have to complete, the postsecondary training application, taking interest surveys or whatever. You know, we have this checklist.

If you look on the VR website and VR kind of historically, we look at checking things off a box to be done as part of the transition plan, versus a concept of transition as a design for living. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a photo of a building. Next the building is the text, “Transition as a design for living”.]

And what do I mean by a design for living? Just thinking about who I am today, who I might want to be tomorrow as things happen in my life, how can I see myself to have the resources to be able to respond to opportunities as they come forward. To be clear about my values about what my expectations are for how my life will be, knowing that things will change and evolve as I get older. So, what do we want to do to prepare people to participate in their lives? 

So, if you change majors, I mean, how many of you have changed majors? How many of you changed your major in school? One time, just one time? Two times? Three times? 

Five times? I did. 

At least five times or more?

I mean, think of us, how many of us started in a major like a math major and ended up graduating with a psychology degree. It happens all the time. How do we make sure our students can respond to those same sorts of environments?

A checklist does not prepare them for deciding what their major's going to be, and then making that evolutionary change when they discover that it's not going to work for them, to let them know all those options are open to them. 

And that I think is hard for us as professionals sometimes to grasp. We like checklists. There's something that you can finish. You have an outcome, you can say, okay, now they're ready. But are they ready for their life? And what does it mean to have a design for your life?

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a photo of a building. Next the building is the text, “Power of a design approach”.]

I want to talk a little bit about power. From an advocacy perspective of power and empowerment. 

Power means different things. It can mean having the resources and having opportunities to use those resources. It can mean not feeling oppression, not having oppression forced upon you. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the text that says, “The power of high expectations”.]

I already mentioned the power of high expectations. And we know about the impact of that experience and creating those high expectations for our children to guide their behaviors.

Expectations guide what you say to people and how they respond to situations. But it's not always obvious until it becomes obvious, so the light goes on. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with data.]

Here's something for you to read. Students with a high level of empowerment are more likely to attend a two-year college by a factor of 20 times. 

So if we have a high school student who feels empowered, who feels that they know what they're doing, they're on the right course, they have the right resources, they have the right opportunities, they're capable, after high school they are 20 times more likely to attend at least a two-year college. 

That's huge, a factor of 20. And building that empowerment is not easy to do, but it's no less important.

It comes from the adults around them, and their knowledge of development their knowledge of helping that child come to their realization they are empowered. 

The second statistic says deaf high school students whose parents expected them to attend a postsecondary education were more likely to do so by a factor of 6 times.

So, if the parents' expectations are high for a child to attend a postsecondary institution, to go onto further training, 6 times more likely they will go, if those parents hold those expectations for them. 

So, if they know they're supported from their parents, that's very powerful to the child. Having those expectations on various things. So, parents are, we are seeing, are a critical part of this process.

So, we know high expectations are very important and here's the facts we have now to show that. It's evident based now. It's not just the buzzword. It is now, of course, evidence based and here is our evidence to show the students with parental empowerment and support are more likely.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the text that says, “The power of self-determination”.]

That power of self-determination is the second most important factor. 

Self-determination means different things to different people. Within our scope we talk about it having the capacity to make decisions for yourself, and to make informed decisions, considering lots of factors.

It's not just like making those decisions on yourself, but making a well-informed decision, a critical decision that has some thought and had some information gathered and applied to the decision-making process. That's the kind of self-determination we're talking about, not just coming to a conclusion and moving forward, but making sure that decision is well thought out.

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the text that has four statements.]

We see four parts to being able to support a student. 

One is to encourage autonomy, and I see that as a little bit different than independence. Autonomy is, again, that ability to make decisions about what they want, but at the same time having those decisions made in a framework.

So for example, a lot of young people are asked to clean up their room, and if you give them options of let's say you can have a special dessert if we go out to a restaurant and if you've cleaned up your room, so the family can make those decisions. 

Simple decisions to encourage that autonomy. You can choose not to clean up your room but then you don't have the dessert when we go out.

It's not just the child making those decisions independently, but the family creating a framework, and an environment where they can start realizing that they have choices to make, and there are better and worse outcomes from the decisions they choose to make. 

And I think that applies to the community as well.  Instead of someone always telling you what to do, it's more helpful to a child to encourage them to make those choices for themselves within a certain context. 

We also realize one of the other important factors is strengthening a child's social network. So, if my student's an undergraduate student, there are many students in education field, so I might know people in that field, and I can connect them with them. Have them meet them, realize what the different opportunities are out there. 

And I think that applies to high school students as well.  We need to provide them access to those different networks, and opportunities to meet people. 

Because we have our low incidence population, we're often overlooked in the mainstream. People carry on thinking that we don't exist. 

And we think that the only way to gain knowledge is through formal classwork. But sometimes meeting people and the connections we make with those social networks is as important and can be very strong in helping a child develop their future. And that's a strategy that the hearing world uses a lot. 

When I grew up, I didn't have access to that network of strategy. I had to figure out how I could create that access. Like my roommate and her phone. I had to figure out, this is the given, I need to have this kind of phone. She wants this colored phone, but how could I navigate that with my needs and make sure that I had my needs met as well.

So, I had to learn how to navigate, advocate, and create that social network to help me successfully navigate. You can't just whip out the ADA and tell people that you have the right to do this, but you have to make sure you have a strategy in place to build that network and build those relationships that will serve you throughout. And then give children an opportunity to practice that. 

The third factor is increased self-knowledge. The student really has to have self-knowledge. That's the foundation of it all. They may be open to new ideas, but they need to understand who they are. They need to see where they've come from, what their values are, what their identity is.

Before I got here, I was on a retreat with my staff in Phoenix. I live in Texas, so we all went to Phoenix for this retreat because it was an easy place to get to for so many people that work all over the country. 

So, we decided to go to Phoenix for our retreat for three days. And the, we thought that the purpose of the retreat was to work on a project together, but it was as important to take some time to do a little self-analysis, to identify what we had come here for, where we were going, who we were, what we each brought to the community of learning, and realized that those decisions had impacts that would reverberate later on.

Sometimes that's hidden and you don't think about that. And you realize that who's there impacts what the outcome will be because of what each person is bringing. And you don't really realize that until you've taken some time to reflect and think about who you are and what you're bringing to.

We get so involved in our day to day lives that sometimes that experience isn't evident until you've done that reflection. And if you haven't done that yet, that's fine. If your student isn't at that level, that's fine. 

High school youth, though, need to have an opportunity to be exposed to this concept and given time to reflect and reflect. And it's not too late. You can keep doing this throughout your life. And students need to know where they can find opportunities to increase that knowledge of self. 

And the last one it's facilitating goal setting. So that also increases autonomy in a student. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the text that says, “The power of story”.]

 want to go back to the power in a story. We talked earlier about the power in all of our stories of transition. 

When we tell a story, when you show people statistics and research, that's really not enough. But it's the personal stories behind that that illustrate those statistics that make an impact.

So, I encourage people to tell their stories and to share your story of how you came to your realization and how you set your goals, how you came to the understanding and I think that's another process of learning.

It's not just academic but it also is the self-learning about coming into your identity. 

Does anyone know Wawa? 

Oh, boy. Oh, I'm excited for you to see him then.

[A video made by the National Deaf Center on Post-secondary Outcomes of a man signing in front of a background of a theatre. The man describes how he led to creating his own company where he performed and taught people hip-hop.]

[A PowerPoint slide appears with text that says, “Bring the power of high expectations, self-determination, and story, together.]

Before I go onto the next part, I want to give you all an opportunity to talk with each other.  I feel the energy kind of flagging. That video, what was important to me was this fellow's passion. To see his passion is obvious. 

That video brings me back to high school. I wish I had seen somebody like that in high school, 

go for it, get that degree. You can, it's not only about academics, it's also about the passion.

I was set on such a strict academic path, that I failed to see the passion in it. And I think we sometimes lose our identity in going for that goal and we need to understand that when we work with the students. We have to be able to feed their passions as well. 

So maybe take some time to talk at your tables about what you notice in the video, relating to you and relating to your passion for working with students and children who are deaf and hard of hearing. And what you can do before high school is over for those students. 

So, let's talk a little bit about passion at your tables. Go ahead, I'll give you five minutes.

[Video cuts out for a second.]

Okay. Two things, -well, three things before we get going again. 

First, there's two topics that we want to discuss. I've already seen you talk about lots of things at your tables. If you want to continue those conversations, remember first, the transition experience, and passion is your second topic. So please continue discussing these at lunchtime, during your breaks, other times, and we'll have more in a minute.

Another thing I wanted to talk about, is that we have lots of materials available for you in our booth downstairs related to everything I've said today. So please stop by during the breaks. We have stickers. We have lots of cool stuff. So please check out our booth. 

Now I want to talk about the product, a game that we've created that we've developed for students. And some of you probably are aware of this, maybe you've seen it before. But I think it's really going bring in the three things we've talked about today, the high expectations, the self-determination and the power stories. So, when those three things converge, we've tried to weave them into this video game. 

[A PowerPoint slide with the cover of Deafverse on it.]

Has anyone seen Deafverse before? Show of hands?

Yeah, it's new at our center. We're still testing it. We tested it for a year, now it's in its second year of development. We have a curriculum that goes with it. There's a student guide, a teacher guide. 

And then there's a lot of thinking that went into this game. It teaches independent thinking skills. It includes deaf and hard of hearing students. It has games. Everyone involved in the development was deaf for it.

I'm just going to show you some of the marketing materials we've made that go with this game. It's really kid-centric is I guess what I would say, and it's just like such a great thing to see about how the deaf developers created this. But we got tons of feedback from at least 20 schools, I think we had involved in the beta testing, from teachers, from students, so they really helped us shape what this has become.

[A marketing video for Deafverse plays.]

[A PowerPoint slide appears with the Deafverse logo in the middle. In each corner of the slide is a different word connected to the logo with a line.]

So, there are four things that Deafverse sort of incorporates, and we sign it this way. The sign deaf and then what you would literally say game. There's the game itself. It's sort of a choose your adventure kind of game.

And it is, you know, choose your adventure, those games, and then you have consequences and then you have to deal with what happens. Sometimes you have to back up and choose a different adventure, so it gives kids a lot of options and a lot of consequences. But it's not just a single path kind of game.

And then there's the player's guide, which is the curriculum for the students. So that's, how is what you're doing here going to apply to your life? It provides them scenarios, and asks them to determine strategies.

So, it's sort of the application of the game to their real life, and how they can make that part of their decision-making process. 

The third is the teacher's guide, that's the third element which is rooted in the curriculum. And also I think parents find it really beneficial, and honestly, interpreters, I think,  have actually loved the teacher guide because just I think so many of them go into the game and read the teacher's guide, and suddenly just understand about how that experience, how it frames the experience of a deaf student.

So maybe interpreter training programs might want to look at this, especially if they're looking at teachers, or interpreters working in educational settings, and anybody working in a special ed setting. I think a lot of our students in special education in undergraduate training programs have played the game as well, because they can use it to develop assignments for the class, and teacher preparation programs.

I think it's great because there's wonderful education about communication strategies, personal experiences. It says teachers guide but basically what I'm trying to say it's any adult guide, so any adult who's interacting or working with deaf and hard of hearing students would find that helpful.

And then the fourth element of the Deafverse is the website, which is the connection to resources and other material and links. So, it's the online component. 

So sometimes we have presentations that we post up there, slides that we post up there. So, it gives us a chance to do some updated information because we can always rework that. And we have a listserv e-mail, too for Deafverse in itself. 

So, if you're interested in Deafverse and the development of the game you can also sign up for our listserv to get those information and updates. We talk to people a lot about what we're doing. If you're looking for Deafverse information, just make sure you register for that listserv. So that's one of the resources. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears that says, “NDC has many resources to support #deafsuccess…”.]

The video that you saw from Wawa is another one of the resources, and we have a whole library of those. They're all YouTube videos. They're all from different deaf adults and young deaf people talking about their lives, just their stories, again, the power of sharing a story.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Community Stories”. The slide has a paused video with a man smiling next to two computer monitors. Next to his face is the text, “Chris Moreland, md, mph, associate professor of medicine”.]

How many of you know Chris Moreland? Dr. Moreland? 

Oh, my God, he is the sweetest, most friendly guy you will ever meet. And he's a badass, I don't know how else to say he's just a badass. 

He is an instructor in a medical school. He's the director of a medical school. So, imagine what he went through to get into that position. 

And talk about a fantastic support person. He a fantastic mentor. He's an advocate for his students, and just really great, special guy. So, again, through YouTube we have all kinds of people like this telling their stories.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Free Self-Paced Online Learning”. Under the titled is a screenshot from a website.]

We have an online, set of online modules for professionals. We have Deaf 101, that's one we just posted on there and that one is a little bit more about some of the nuances, not just this is what deaf people are, but it's a little bit more of the complexities of going through the world as a deaf and hard of hearing person.

So that's what we're looking at. And looking at the whole student, not just the academics. So we are always posting classes and e-learning of course is certainly a big strategy, and they all have videos. They all have stories. They all include data and statistics, so the idea that we integrate all of the knowledge and all of the powerful tools we have to share that knowledge.

So, we're filming constantly. So, you can earn CEU's from taking some of these online courses.

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Free Resources for Download”, with photos of pages from an NDC packet.]

And then as I said, we've got the giant box of materials downstairs, but you can also download everything from our website as well.

We're updating everything to work into translation into Spanish, because we're trying to make sure we have Spanish translations of everything that we put out there. And so, a lot of the resources we have are already in Spanish.

And we have infographics like that third thing on the right that you see. So, we have a lot of banners, posters, things you can put up in your classrooms if you're looking for that.  And if you need something, e-mail us. 

We'll send you a box, we'll send you a box and let you lug it yourself around your classroom, you know? Just let us know what you need. We'll Fed Ex, you know. We save the day with anything that you need. So, if you want print materials, I know printing things is expensive, we can do that printing for you and just send you the material. We're more than happy to do that. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears, titled, “Virtual Support from NDC Help”. Under the title are headshots of four people. Over the headshots there is text that says, “We’re Here for You”.]

One of the other things we do is we actually have a live person help desk. So, there are people. We have access experts. We have higher education experts. We have people with expertise in VR. We have a whole plethora of people who know a lot about a lot of these things.  

So, I know here in the state of Minnesota you've got a lot of great people here doing a lot of great work. But I just want to make sure that there's, but we know there's a lot of people working in isolation, there's a lot of people alone trying to do all of this.

So, we want to make sure you know there's a support network out there, and you can get it from us, through our help desk. We can do video phone calls. We can do web. We can do e-mail. We can do however you want to talk to us; we can talk to you. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a photo of the building. Next to the photo is text that says, “Back to a life design model of transition…]

Let me go back around to this, you know, that's sort of a list of the resources. Let me get back to this idea of a design model for Transition.

The idea of getting away from the checklist and moving into something more whole. Something that provides those opportunities for advancement, opportunities to do things wrong, to fail, to try again, to learn through experiences, to develop skills, to develop those abilities to network, and all those skills that are so valuable for future success.  It's that design for life, not just design for school. 

So just things we want to make sure that we know. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a photo of a building. Next to the building are three phases, “Constructed WITH, not for.”, “Vision for growth and evolution.”, and “Changing the narrative.”.

This has to be based and constructed with the student. We design with the student. We design with.

Because if you disagree with this, consider why, what does that mean? And if the student's pushing back, find out more. Find out what they want. 

So, design with is a key concept, and we know that can be hard.

I worked, you know, working with young people, they often have the I know what I'm doing. They don't want to work with me because I'm the old person, but you do want to sort of take them into consideration, take the time it takes to break through.

And when I think about that checklist, how can we think about what are the areas for growth? And remember that stat about five years from high school into college or some sort of postsecondary training. How is what you're designing with that person preparing them for that kind of statistic? 

A checklist doesn't say you've got five years between A and Z and you're going to have to figure out what you're going to do with your life. So, we want to make sure that they carry through a plan, that they don't lose everything in those five years. 

So, the process has to be for their life, however that manifests from high school into college or whatever they choose to do. What's necessary?

If they're going to have a family. How are they going to approach their educational plan differently? So that conversation needs to happen. 

And the other element is also to change their narrative in terms of expectations. We can have very high expectations like Wawa said, I thought he was pretty blunt about it, pretty direct with it.

Just basically there's no excuses for not having these kinds of high expectations for these students. They have goals. They have passions. We want to make sure that they get, and they keep working towards that. And that we put a system in place that allows them to kind of work towards those goals and expectations. 

[A PowerPoint slide appears with a photo of a building. A question is on the slide, “What’s your role in the shift from checklist to design?”.]

And then thinking about yourself, and what's your role in this shift, from a checklist process to a design process related to transition. Does that change your role? Does it change what you might do? Maybe you do the same thing you're already doing. Maybe you need to make a little adjustment. 

Maybe you need to make a really big adjustment in how you approach transition planning, and how you provide that support. 

So think about it for yourself and for the entire support team wrapped around this student. If you're thinking about this as a design for life, that that's what transition planning is, what does that mean, what are the tools that this particular client or student needs for their life?

And I think we've got a little bit of time for more, I don't know if we have time for the table chat, but I just wanted to leave you with a little food for thought, that's all, about your role in this shift. 

[A PowerPoint with a photo of hands in a circle. Next to the photo is text that says, “Success…together”.]

And the emphasis is, it's a team process. I appreciate being here with you because I know how much energy and investment you have made physically, and monetarily. And you've brought me here.

I did want to take some time to say thank you to all of the schools and all of the work that you do to support your students. I'm so impressed with what happens here. So inspiring for me to see what everybody is doing to invest in these kids.

So, I know I had to say no to other things so that I could be here, and I really wanted to be here. You had to make a choice to come here and I really appreciate the fact that you did make that choice to come here. So, thank you so much. 

And thank you, just wanted to say that as my wrap.

[A slide appears that says, “Come visit our booth” and has an image of Deafverse on it. Under “Come visit our booth!” are bullets describing recourses that Deafverse has.]

Remember, if you have questions -- do we have time for questions? Little bit, Elise? How are we doing? 

Anna says we have five minutes. Whoo, does anybody have questions? 

What kinds of questions or comments? If you want raise your hand, we've got an interpreter up here so we're all good. 

Yeah. In the back. 

Audience member: Hi, do you have data about how many kids have a secondary disability of blindness or other disabilities?

Stephanie Cawthon: Yes, and what's their success in employment.

Yep, we've got information about those secondary disabilities and what the outcomes are. Deaf, DeafBlind. But also, within racial demographics too, if we're looking at students of color, gender breakouts, so, yeah, we've got a lot of breakout statistics, you can find them downstairs.

Absolutely, you're welcome. What else? 


A different audience member: Starting college five years out, Is it because of transitional services? Or are they taking classes that don't count towards College? 

I had one of my hard of hearing classes taking remedial courses that didn't count towards college.

So, I'm wondering what do you think is causing that gap? 

Stephanie Cawthon: Just want to make sure I'm in the frame. There are a lot of factors that we find for that. We don't know specifics, of course, for each student and every story is an individual student, but for those students going into training programs,-let me back up.

The gap that we see is something that we apply the summer meltdown is basically, I know that's the term we tend to use where it's like the application for college happens in the spring and acceptance happens in the spring. They register in the summer and in the fall they aren't there.

So, we see that over and over again. That there's a huge plan in place and everything seems to be right on track, back to the checklist, but something happens in the summer where they sort of lose contact or they just sort of disappear.

So, there's something about them not coming to campus. So, we don't know what that is and we're kind of trying to see what that is. And there's certainly other factors too. 

But that concept of the summer meltdown, -I have a hard time signing it, but that's something that seems to be an issue. So, trying to figure out what happens between May and September, you know? 

Where do they go? That's where we see sort of some giant change. So, in addition to other things of course. Yeah. 

Other questions? Okay. Did you have a wrap-up? Okay. 

[Slide appears with the National Deaf Center website link, their help email, and telling the audience to follow them on social media.]

Thank you, again, for having me be here. I will be downstairs at the booth and I hope you have a fantastic day.

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