Believe! Know! Do!

The DeafBlind Young Adults in Action (DBYAA) is a unique leadership opportunity that empowers young adults to make a difference in their communities and the world. It challenges them to believe in themselves and to gain the knowledge that allows them to do something to promote a more accessible world for all through their unique experiences, skill sets, interests, and connections. By acquiring the skills to become effective leaders in their local communities by observing the policymaking process and engaging policymakers, they also discover career and other opportunities for themselves while at the same time promoting equal opportunities for deafblind people. The guiding principle of the program is the belief that by giving young people the opportunity to learn about effective leadership skills, they become more involved in enhancing their communities and making an overall contribution to our society.

DBYAA is a 2-part leadership program. The first and main component involves future young leaders meeting face-to-face in Washington, D.C., where they discover about the policymaking process; practice leadership skills by engaging representatives of federal agencies, Members of Congress, and other national and international organizations. The second part is the Leadership Development Module (LDM), an online learning tool developed by DBCA in partnership with the National Center on Deaf-Blindness and based on Moodle. LDM is an integral part of the overall leadership program, enabling future young leaders, instructors and partner institutions to better learn and teach about participatory leadership. Having an online component also significantly reduces planning time and ensures that participants do not feel overwhelmed but instead feel prepared and empowered. In addition, LDM serves as a reservoir of information related to the program, including what program graduates have accomplished, and civic engagement in general.

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The following are Frequently Asked Questions about our leadership development program. If you have any questions that are not listed below, please send us your questions using our contact form.


  • A: DeafBlind Young Adults in Action (DBYAA) is a hands-on participatory leadership development program for young adults who are deafblind. It consists of an online module that helps prepare participants for the main component, the face-to-face weeklong seminar in Washington, D.C.

  • A: DBYAA is funded through grants, private sponsorships, and gifts from other organizations that support the community.

  • A: Any person who is deafblind and between the age of 18 and 30 and is attending or plans to attend college. He or she also must demonstrate a commitment to serving the community.

  • A: There is an Application Review and Selection Committee whose members are drawn from the Board of Directors of DBCA, the general membership, the executive team, and the volunteer support staff. Members of the DBCA Board are highly qualified professionals and may include an attorney, a professor, a business leader or a specialist in the deafblind field.

  • A: As of 2017, six (6) applicants are selected. This is in keeping with funding and logistical constraints, including the need to find qualified volunteer interpreters.

  • A: A DBYAA mentor is a past program participant who is selected to act as a mentor to new participants. Each new program participant is paired with an experienced and dedicated mentor.

  • A: Each year we work to select an appropriate location for the weeklong seminar that is accessible to all participants. The location may be a university such as Gallaudet University or other location that is both close to public transportation and cost-effective.

  • A: No. All reasonable expenses are paid for. This includes transportation to the meeting place; meal and board; and transportation to scheduled events during the week.

  • A: DeafBlind people are a low-incidence disability community with few opportunities in many aspects of society. Empowering a young generation of deafblind adults will ensure that the community has experienced and dedicated leaders to draw from. It is also important to give young adults the opportunity to develop leadership skills while they are transitioning into adulthood, potentially helping them with educational and career advancement.

  • A: Besides exploring the meaning of leadership, program participants gain experience with the policy process that will further both self-advocacy and advocacy on behalf of the community as a whole. Participants also discover new information that will lead to advancement in education and career.

  • A: At DBCA, we believe leadership development is an ongoing process and doesn’t end with our program. Effective leaders are those who continue to develop far beyond DBYAA and apply their new knowledge and skills to their communities and the larger world as active agents of change. Therefore, participants are expected to do follow-up action planning.

  • A: No. Those who complete our program will be given a choice to join the organization so that they can continue to remain active as part of the ongoing process of leadership development. Those who wish to become DBCA members will be provided with information about the organization, including its Bylaws.