Woodroffe High School Students Host Ottawa Deaf Youth Conference

Woodroffe High School Students Host Ottawa Deaf Youth Conference
Posted on 06/20/2022
Woodroffe High School Students Host Ottawa Deaf Youth Conference

Students and staff at Woodroffe High School recently hosted the Ottawa Deaf Youth Conference for grade 7-12 students that are Deaf or hard of hearing. This student-run event brought together over 130 participants, providing them with an opportunity to learn and build connections with peers across the province.

Woodroffe students organized the event with guidance from Teacher Rachelle Bergen. They began their research by watching videos of other conferences and TED Talks for inspiration. They created invitations, designed branding and event shirts, and learned about the technical aspects of running a successful virtual event.

The conference took place over two days in May, featuring presentations from Deaf and hard of hearing youth and professionals. Participants heard from Nigel Howard, a B.C.-based Deaf American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter, who shared about his experiences growing up Deaf and his 30-year interpreting career. The lineup of presenters also included teen author Sarah Strawbridge, London-based teacher Brittany Mallach, and university student Abbey Skopelianos, who spoke about navigating their education and career pathways.

Participants heard from a Woodroffe student, Abdualzez, who was born Deaf and arrived in Canada as a refugee six years ago. Abdualzez shared how his family had fled the war, journeying from Syria to Jordan to Canada, and spoke about his life in Canada today. His story was also featured on CBC Ottawa Morning

Woodroffe students Nada and Riham led a workshop on Arabic sign language, teaching signs and greetings and showing the difference between Arabic and American sign languages.

The conference brought together students from across the province - and even welcomed two attendees from Nova Scotia and Quebec! They had the opportunity to connect with each other through interactive breakout rooms and Q&A periods. Here’s what some of the participants had to say about the experience:


"I really enjoyed seeing people's stories. I found it very inspirational. I am very excited for next year's conference."

"Amazing stories, I really enjoyed it!"
"It made me happy that everyone was deaf and I enjoyed their stories."

 "I really liked it. I learned so much!"

 "I really liked the conference. It was interesting when Nigel showed us some signs from other countries."

"I liked to see so many Deaf people together. I got to see some old friends".

"I loved Nigel's presentation. I enjoyed chatting in the breakout rooms and meeting new friends. It was nice to chat with other Deaf students. I feel proud to be deaf!!!"
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