For application considerations, the following eligibility requirements must be met in order to proceed with the application process:

  1. Representation – you are encouraged to get support from a state association or member based organization that is affiliated with the NAD. If you want to participate independently, please contact [email protected].
  1. Age—you must be between the ages of eighteen (18) years and thirty (30) by the due date of the application. Anyone who is younger than 18 or over 30 by the due date of the application will not be considered in this competition. 
  1. Academic Status – you must be a high school graduate or have a GED certificate by the time of the competition. 
  1. Deaf or hard of hearing status—you must be deaf or hard-of-hearing to be considered in this competition. You can provide evidence of having attended a school or program for the deaf or hard of hearing, or in the alternative, you can show educational or audiological records proving you are deaf or hard of hearing. 
  1. Communication skills—the preferred method of communication is American Sign Language (ASL). 
  1. Background check—you must never have been convicted of any felony crime or any other criminal conduct that demonstrates moral turpitude. The NAD will conduct background checks to investigate. 
  1. Availability—you must be willing to travel to the location of the Biennial NAD Conference for 10 days. The 10 days (more or less) includes the retreat a few days prior to the conference and then the conference itself. Usually, these ten days are from the end of June through the beginning of July. Please visit for more details of the next Biennial NAD Conference. 
  1. Expenses— All travel and accommodation expenses for the competition will be the sole responsibility of the contestant. We encourage you to seek financial support or sponsorship from local organizations, state associations, and/or corporations. 
  1. Membership—You are required to be a member of the NAD when registering for the conference. Please visit and sign up to become a member. 
  1. Contestant Agreement Packet—You must complete and sign all the agreement forms and waivers online
  1. Visibility – Innovation – Sustainability— You must be eager, passionate and proactive about addressing a social issue, business idea or a startup concept in the deaf and hard of hearing community in the United States. Be original. Be creative. Be unique. 

When submitting your idea, please write in this format: 

  • VISIBILITY—What have you noticed in our community that needs to be addressed? What kind of issues do you see? What kind of new ideas can you bring to our community to make a change?
  • INNOVATION—Bring your new ideas of addressing the issues you see and present it to the community. Bring a creative way to address those issues. 
  • SUSTAINABILITY—Your idea will not just be presented, but you will make it happen! How can you make it happen and make it last? How can you ensure that your idea has stability to continue to impact our community?