Search Empower Experience Deaf (SEED) Conference

The Illinois Deaf Student Network coordinated a conference for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, with a focus on transition from high school to college and/or work. Nearly 90 students from around the state attended the Search Empower Experience Deaf (SEED) Conference held at Harper Community College.

The keynote speaker, Noah Buchholz, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Bethel College in Indiana, spoke about the use of technology by the Deaf, in a presentation titled Brave New Deaf World, based on the book Brave New World. Following the keynote, students attended three breakout sessions matching the theme of the day. “Search” featured Sheri Cook of Gallaudet University Regional Center Midwest, who spoke about her own experiences growing up Deaf, and how she achieved success in college and in her career. “Empower” was presented by Maria Hernandez of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and included information about maintaining a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. “Experience” included a panel of college students who are deaf and hard of hearing from Harper College, who shared their experiences navigating the college application process, as well as what it is like to attend college with accommodations.

Sponsors of the event were the Harper College Kimball Hill Family Deaf Institute and the Illinois Service Resource Center. Students in attendance each received a t-shirt with a design created by a student from Hinsdale South High School, and funded with grants from Gallaudet University Regional Center Midwest and the Illinois Association of School Social Workers. Additionally, each student received a seed packet donated by Walmart.


Students from Hinsdale South High School model the SEED t-shirts that were distributed at the event.


Marcie Sacks-Botto of Harper College led a panel of Harper students in sharing information about the admission process and strategies for success in college.


Maria Hernandez from the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities led students in role plays about how to respond if someone offers them drugs.


Sheri Cook of Gallaudet University Regional Center Midwest shared her personal experiences growing up deaf, attending college, and becoming successful in her career.