Annual Convention - June 27-30, 2019 - Pittsburgh, PA

Call for Speakers


The 2019 NDSC Convention will take place June 27-30
at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Convention Planning Committee is seeking proposals for the general convention workshops geared for parents, family members, and professionals.

The Youth & Adults Conference Team is looking for engaging self-advocates (individuals with DS age 15 and older) to share their talents, experiences and perspectives with their peers.

Submission deadline is Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

General Convention Workshop Speakers

Are you an expert in inclusion, speech pathology, technology or employment for people with Down syndrome? Are you highly engaging and motivating? Do you have proven strategies that will bridge the gap between parents and professionals in the Down syndrome community? Do you have solid presentation skills? If so than the NDSC wants to hear from you.

The NDSC Convention is the largest event of its kind attracting more than 3,500 participants worldwide. It will take place June 27-30, 2019 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Workshops will take place Friday, June 27, Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29. Only speakers who are available to present on all three days should apply. Special consideration will be given to professionals attending the DSMIG Annual Symposium on Friday, June 27.

  • Advocacy – Legislative and other
  • Speech & Language Development – Sign Language, Oral Motor, Feeding
  • Behavior (across all ages)
  • Medical – All Ages, Aging
  • Health & Fitness
  • Inclusion – IEP Tips, Modifications, Accommodations
  • Technology
  • Pre K – 12 Education – Math, Reading
  • Post Secondary Education
  • Sexuality
  • Employment
  • Transition
  • Independent Living
  • Recreation
  • Research – Medical, Science, Education
  • OT – Sensory, Handwriting
  • Community Inclusion – Spirituality, Friendships, Volunteerism
  • Future Planning – Financial, Trusts, Guardianship
  • Adult Sibling Support and Resources
  • Co-Occurring DS-ASD Specific Workshops

  • Proposals will only be accepted via the online form from the NDSC website.
  • Speakers will not be paid an honorarium or reimbursed for travel expenses. However, speakers will receive a complimentary registration to the general convention.
  • One individual may submit multiple proposals for consideration. Each topic must be submitted separately and include all of the required fields.
  • If there are multiple speakers for one workshop, the lead speaker should complete the “Workshop Proposal Form” and list additional speakers and their information in the fields provided.
  • Incomplete, late, or incorrectly submitted proposals will not be considered.
  • Please be prepared to provide the following information when submitting a proposal:
      Workshop title
      Workshop Description
      Target audience
      3 Learning Objectives
      Workshop Outline
      Speaker name, title, company, full address, phone, email
      Speaker photo and short introduction
      Audio Visual requests

All proposals are downloaded, sorted by topic and audience, and then distributed to the Convention Planning Committee (CPC) for review. The CPC is made up of more than a dozen current and previous NDSC Board Members and Staff. Every member of the CPC has a family member with Down syndrome or another intellectual disability and represent all ages of the lifespan. The CPC will meet via conference call to discuss each and every proposal received. It typically takes several weeks for the CPC to complete the review process. During the review process, the CPC will compare proposals received in each category and rank them in order of preference. Just having the highest rated workshop doesn’t mean you will be selected. Available space and topic balance will determine the number of proposals accepted for each category. We typically received more than 120 proposals for approximately 80 workshops. If your workshop is not accepted it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an amazing proposal! It just means that we couldn’t fit it into our schedule this year.

Any proposals submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.

All speakers will be notified of their proposal status by Mid-February. If you are selected, we will request you accept the invitation immediately so the workshop schedule can be created and posted.

There are a few ‘tricks of the trade’ that many regularly accepted speakers follow. We want to share these so everyone has an equal chance of getting accepted.

  • People First Language is a must. If the copy in your proposal does not follow the people first language guidelines, than your proposal will likely not be selected.
  • Include an outline of your workshop. It is helpful for the CPC to have an outline to reference when comparing workshops in each topic. Be realistic with the time you are allowing for each portion of your presentation. Be sure to leave at least 15 minutes for Q&A.
  • Be creative with your workshop title and abstract. Abstracts that are more than 10 sentences will likely get chopped in half if accepted and do not include words that parents cannot pronounce or understand. Your primary audience will be moms and dads, so draft copy that they can relate to.
  • Workshops that provide attendees with “How To’s” and “Proven Strategies” parents can take back and try at home will be given priority over workshops that do not.
  • Remember who your audience is! While there are some professionals, most of our attendees are parents, siblings, grandparents and other caregivers.
  • If you are using the same PPT, Handouts and Materials created more than a few years ago – it’s time to refresh. Nearly 40% of our attendees are repeat customers.

Important Dates

  • Proposal Submission opens – September 14, 2018
  • Proposal Deadline – Wednesday, January 2, 2019.
  • Speaker notification of acceptance – Mid-February
  • Workshop List Posted Online – Friday, March 1, 2019
  • Convention Registration and Hotel Block Opens – March 25, 2019
  • PPT’s and Handouts Due – Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Proposal Submission Form

Call for speakers for 2019 is now closed.

For General Convention Workshop Submission questions please contact:
Coleen Popp at

Youth & Adults Conference Speakers

The Y&A Conference Team is seeking proposals to create an engaging, educational and enlightening program for self-advocates (individuals 15 and older with DS) attending the Y&A Conference. The Y&A Conference will convene nearly 400 individuals with DS during the NDSC Annual Convention that takes place June 27-30 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA.

The Youth & Adult Conference Team is looking for engaging self-advocates (individuals with DS age 15 and older) to share their talents, experiences and perspectives with their peers.  This could be you!

  • Do you have a special skill you have learned or want to learn that you could share?
  • Maybe you have a new dance move you have learned or perfected?
  • How about leading a group in a craft, activity or game?
  • Do you have an accomplishment that would be inspirational for your peers to hear about?

The conference needs the following types of presentations:

  • 45-minute Workshop – This is a 45-minute session that will be presented one to three times, each to a small group of about 40 self-advocate attendees. This could be an educational piece with an activity, a hands-on craft or activity, or a movement activity. Review the list of past workshops for ideas on topics to consider. A support person will need to be identified that will provide support both in preparing and presenting the workshop.
  • 5 minute Spotlight Presentation with Q&A – This is a roughly 5 minute presentation given to an audience of individuals with DS followed by a period of time for questions and answers. Support Team members will be on hand to help both with understanding the question being ask and formulating an answer as needed. The audience size will range from 40 to 400. Powerpoints or other visual aids as part of the presentation are encouraged.

All presentations will be given on Saturday, June 29th between 9am and 5pm. Your flexibility in presentation time is essential to building a dynamic conference program. Audio Visual equipment will be provided as needed (LCD projector and screen, PC laptop, microphone.) All other supplies are the responsibility of the presenter. It is the expectation of the Y&A Conference Team that all self-advocate speakers with register for and participate in the Y & A Conference. All presenters are responsible for their travel and hotel expenses.

All proposals must be received no later than Wednesday, January 2, for full consideration of the Y&A Conference Team. The team will review all proposals and slot presentations as they best fit within the program. Everyone who submits a proposal will be contacted by mid-February as to how their proposal can be included in the conference.

Y&A Conference Workshops and Spotlight Presentations Proposal Form

For Youth & Adult Conference Speaker questions please contact:
Jean Beck at

Past Convention Workshops and Presentations

For some ideas on topics for workshops or presentations here is a list of presentations and workshops from the past.

Exercise Right Where You Are
South Korea, Here I come
How I developed an active social life
Born to Lead
Dancing Yourself to Fitness
Tips for Independent Living
Eating Healthy and Staying Fit
Taking an Active Role in my Community
Health and Nutrition
Fashion Makeup
Getting the Life You Love
People First Language
Talk Story
Mason Jar Salads for Busy People
Yoga for EVERY body
Fun with Finance
Activating Advocacy
Tennis: Serve It Up
Motivational Speaking 1-2-3
Singing and Dancing with the King of Rock n’ Roll
Stage Makeup
Swing and Ballroom Dancing
Starting Your Own Business
Yoga for a Peaceful Happy You
“An Artist with Abilities”
Golf for Life
Sign Language
Why Does My Doctor…….?
C’ing Your Way to a Healthy and Happy Lifestyle Zumba with Yulissa
Connecting with Family and Friends
Down for Photography
Livin Your Dreams
Leather working
Be a Star! Acting Games
Living and Working Independently
So You Think You Can Dance?
Camphill Community Living
A Healthy Lifestyle–Diet, Exercise, and Well-Being
What we Learn in the Kitchen
L-E-T-S G-O Let’s Go!! Learn to be a Cheerleader!
Martial Arts Therapy
How to become the “King or “Queen” of Clean


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