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"Youth Ambassador Program" (Formerly "Miss Deaf America")

By Ashley Ainsley

Youth Ambassador Program

            The Youth Ambassador Program (YAP), which was once called Miss Deaf America, is a competition held every two years by the National Association of the Deaf (National Association of the Deaf). The YAP was started in the fall of 2012, and is no longer a pageant like Miss Deaf America was. The YAP competition features deaf and heard of hearing boys and girls between the ages of 18 and 30. In order to be a contestant, one must live in the United States, be between the ages of 18-30, high school or GED certified, considered deaf or hard of hearing, pass a background check, and be responsible for expenses (Youth Ambassador Program). The mission of the Youth Ambassador Program is to 鍍ransform aspiring young deaf and hard of hearing leaders to be innovative advocates through a collaborative community-based competition・ (National Association of the Deaf). The vision of the competition is to 殿chieve civic engagement and social responsibility among young deaf and hard of hearing contestants through an emphasis on visibility, innovation, and sustainability・ (National Association of the Deaf).

            The competition is structured into five different rounds, not including the preliminary round. The preliminary round is simply where the contestant must find a sponsor to support them throughout the event. This sponsor must be announced by the second round. During the first round of the YAP, each contestant must submit a video in ASL that explains a social issue that is important to them. In round two, contestants must complete a set of challenges in seven days. These challenges are community-based, and include such things as arranging a fundraising event, volunteering at an assisted living center, or perhaps talking to different organizations about the NAD. Those making it past this round will move onto round three, which is called the Retreat and Challenges round. All contestants will be required to go to the NAD Conference location, where they will plan a sponsored event that happens after Opening Ceremonies. They will also participate in private interviews with the judges, demonstrate their abilities in marketing, leadership, conflict resolution, and so on during this round. The final two rounds, four and five, will also take place during this conference. These last two rounds differ with every conference, making the competition creative. The top eight or twelve contestants make it to round four, depending on how many contestants there were in the first round, whereas the top three males and three females, or top two of each, make it to the final round. Then, one female winner and one male winner are chosen (Youth Ambassador Program).

            The most recent YAP was held during the year 2016, with the final being held on July 8th. This competition was set up as described above, with the fourth round being called 典he Battle・ and fifth round 擢rom Dream to Action.・ In round four, contestants were paired up and had to respond to questions on-the-spot. The audience then voted for the contestant that had the best response. In round five, the social issue that each contestant chose back in round one was showcased. This was done through the use of visual media or theatrical performance. Each contestant had to demonstrate their plan for working on this social issue (National Association of the Deaf). The final four contestants were Jeffrey Spinale from Indiana, Sammi Shupe from New York, Ernest Willman from Washington DC, and Tanea Brown from New York. Jeffrey Spinale and Tanea Brown were the winners, and are now the 2016-2018 NAD Youth Ambassadors. The social issue that Jeffrey will focus on is establishing a resource center for deaf LGBTQ members, while Tanea would like to 田reate more people of color interpreters by educating and working with the community・ (Introducing 2016-2018 NAD Youth Ambassadors).


1.  Introducing 2016-2018 NAD Youth Ambassadors. (2016, August 19). Retrieved January 3, 2017, from

2.  National Association of the Deaf. (n.d.). Retrieved January 1, 2017, from

3.  Youth Ambassador Program. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2017, from



Also see: "Miss Deaf America"


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