NTID lands $1.1 million to expand deaf education

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PEN-International has established relationships with educators and top officials in eight countries. During a recent visit to China, RIT/NTID’s James DeCaro greets Deng Pufang, chairperson for the China Disabled Persons’ Federation.

The Nippon Foundation of Japan has awarded NTID $1.1 million to expand its leading role in improving education and career opportunities for deaf people around the world.

Since 2001, The Nippon Foundation has awarded NTID $8 million to help colleges across the globe improve technological education for their deaf students through a program called Postsecondary Education Network International (PEN-International).

Deaf students attending specific colleges in Japan, China, Russia, and the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Czech Republic will continue to benefit from PEN-International’s expertise through improved curriculum, increased access, new technology, multi-media labs and trained faculty. More recently, PEN-International has been conducting training in the areas of sign language instruction, interpreter training, automation technology and counseling skills.

This year, PEN-International will continue to expand in China and move vigorously to propel each of its international partners toward programmatic and fiscal self sufficiency.

“The programs within each partner university are customized to help assure that they reach their own goals,” explains James DeCaro, former NTID dean and director of PEN-International. “Over the last six years, we’ve been training faculty to, in turn, train other educators within as well as outside of their organization, fostering an educational ripple effect throughout their country.”

To date, more than 1,000 educators from partner countries have participated in PEN-International hosted workshops. A total of 52 workshops were conducted by partner institutions in their home countries as a result of skills learned through PEN-International training initiatives, DeCaro says. “The desired ripple effect has resulted in 900 new people being trained through their own exporting initiatives.”

In addition, PEN-International hosted a delegation from Korea who learned about course design, teaching math and physics, meeting industry needs, assistive listening devices, speech-to-text transcription, job search and other critical information relevant to deaf college students. PEN-International representatives also traveled to Hong Kong and Vietnam to assist with the development, production and duplication of local sign language reference materials.

“PEN-International’s enormously successful efforts will improve the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing students around the world indefinitely,” says Alan Hurwitz, NTID CEO/dean and vice president of RIT. “In fact, their accomplishments have resulted in the National Association of the Deaf (USA) nominating PEN for the prestigious 2007 World Federation of the Deaf Solidarity Merit Award.”

“The dedication, enthusiasm and commitment of our partners and the NTID PEN team have resulted in PEN-International far exceeding the original expectations I had for this program,” says DeCaro.

For information about PEN-International and its global partners, visit www.pen.ntid.rit.edu.