DC in July! Projects Come Together in Successful Summit

Posted on August 14, 2014


John Reiman   NCDB Staff

The annual assembly of our national deaf-blind network had a different feel this year when it convened on July 20 in Washington, D.C. for the 2014 Deaf-Blind Summit. Facilitated by NCDB at the direction of OSEP and in collaboration with partners The Helen Keller National Center and Perkins School for the Blind, the Summit was dedicated to advancing network collaboration in service of children who are deaf-blind, their families and the professionals who serve them. Noticeably different at this year’s Summit (formerly known as the ‘Deaf-Blind Project Directors Meeting’) was the emphasis on interactivity, dialogue, and relationship-building. Direction from the planning committee and guidance from OSEP made clear that in order for our network to continue moving forward in collaborative planning and productive partnerships, we needed time for face-to-face dialogue – opportunities to listen and be heard.

Jerry P facilitation group session                            Project Officer JoAnn McCann smiling in group

A pre-webinar was held on July 9 to detail the Summit’s organizational schema and to identify the 12 content areas that would serve as focal points for concurrent sessions dedicated to advancing planning for collaborative partnerships.

Participants at the meeting numbered 108 including 5 OSEP Project Officers.  The day began with brief self-introductions from the more than 20 newcomers to the network and from other long time staff who are now moving into project leadership.  Upcoming retirements over the next year were noted and the significant opportunity for new leaders to step forward was highlighted. The day’s facilitated concurrent sessions centered on 12 target areas and provided an opportunity to advance key relationships and communication and to leverage the network’s vast resources into focused collaborative partnerships.   Selection of the following target areas was informed by planning committee input and a review of the targeted, intensive and universal technical assistance being delivered across the nation.  The sessions were:

  • Data Management
  • Developing Network Neurons 
  • Early Intervention and Referral
  • Family Engagement
  • Initial Deaf-Blind Professional Licensure
  • Intervener Services
  • Intervener Training (modules)
  • Intensive TA
  • Literacy
  • Passing the Baton (retirements/transitions)
  • Professional Development Models (state level)
  • Transition

At present, data recorded from each of these concurrent sessions is being reviewed by NCDB to identify key themes, prioritize recommendations, and move information to locales within the NCDB website to support further dialogue and expanded collaboration.

 As a complement to the Summit’s strong dialogue orientation, participants used a social app to connect and share reactions throughout the day.  You can view an archive of the comments and photos posted during the course of the meeting.  Two readily observable energies were present. First, the obvious passion held by attendees for ‘the work’, an unmistakable commitment to the pursuit of excellence in delivering services to children and families.  Secondly, a distinct sense of a growing ‘us’ was powerfully evident.  All of this is helped by RFP’s that align all projects both by cycle and priorities, and a sustained charge from OSEP for collaboration and partnerships.  There is a long and historic connection within our community and at this DC meeting one could feel a growing sense of new possibilities, enthusiasm and catalyzed vision.   Here are just a few of the comments and feedback from the evaluation.

  • We have such a strong network and such gifted people across the country. Anything and everything that we can do to preserve and even strengthen this connection will benefit us all and especially the children we serve.
  • Really liked the format for this year’s meeting, provided time for individualized learning based on my needs. Also liked the discussions in the smaller group.
  • It was an absolute pleasure to see that the network is indeed growing and thriving, particularly in the midst of the major transformations occurring as a result of shifting generational dynamics. It was a pleasure to participate, and I am excited to see what shape and form the Summits will take in the coming years.
  • The information that was shared was relevant to my needs and I have information to move me forward in my grant goals and objectives.
  • This format was great. And personal interaction is essential. Follow up on emerging hot button themes from breakouts with webinars.
  • Excellent use of our time in Washington. I think this format could be used throughout the cycle as one component for future Summit meetings. Feedback from others I spoke with was all positive.
  • This year's DB Summit was a pleasure to attend. The focus on personnel trends impacting our DB Projects (retirements, passing on the baton to new directors) and technology trends was right on.


                                   Two participants signing in


Comments (3)

As someone who was not present at the Deaf-Blind Summit I was able to “drop in” every hour or so on that Sunday to get a sense of how things were going. At first I was surprised by the level of activity on DB Connect, but as the day went on it was obvious that the day was going well and that there was a level of energy on display that was impressive. I especially enjoyed the pictures and truly spontaneous comments made.

I guess what was most on display was the professional and personal camaraderie that so characterizes the Deaf-Blind Network - Great people doing critically important work.

When the evaluations started rolling in I was able to read your comments about the day. I think we should all congratulate the planning committee for designing a day that was perfect for this first Summit. It provided a wonderful launching pad for the future of the network. I very much look forward to being part of the Summit next year!

Mark Schalock

Posted Aug 26, 2014 by Mark Schalock

The DB Summit proved to be a great beginning for developing and/or enhancing systems of collaboration among the newly funded State and Multi-State DB Projects, NCDB, and partners. Please continue to check the NCDB website, and specifically, the DB Summit Group page, for summarized and posted information and resources shared during the DB Summit breakout sessions. As identified in the blog, information is currently being reviewed by session facilitators and notetakers, and then will be summarized into key themes, prioritized recommendations, and eventually moved to locales within the NCDB website to support further dialogue and expanded collaboration. YOUR voice is needed to continue the dialogue!

D. Jay Gense

Posted Aug 18, 2014 by D. Jay Gense

It is so nice to hear how DB Summit went for those of us who were unable to attend. Sounds like many ideas and possibilities were discussed. Hearing peoples responses and comments to how the day went really reflects the impact this meeting has on the network!
Thanks John Reiman for giving us a summary. Excited to see what the future holds for this amazing network.

Shelby Morgan

Posted Aug 15, 2014 by Shelby Morgan

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