Gallaudet Professor, Advocate Martina (MJ) Bienvenu Presents Keynote Address for Campus Diversity Program

Campus Week of Dialogue focuses on diversity within the Deaf Culture and Audism

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The 11th annual Campus Week of Dialogue at Rochester Institute of Technology and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf features one of the country’s strongest advocates for Deaf Culture, Martina Bienvenu. Known to many as “MJ,” Bienvenu will address the community at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 27, 2008, in Ingle Auditorium on the RIT campus. Her topic, “Deaf Culture and Deafhood,” will touch upon the evolving interactions around community identity within deaf culture.

The Campus Week of Dialogue is one of several annual programs presented by the RIT President’s Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion. Each year, the Campus Week of Dialogue spotlights current issues, trends and conversations taking place on campus related to diversity.

The 2008 Campus Week of Dialogue will include daily workshops about diversity within the deaf community including a panel composed of individuals of varied races, gender, and sexual orientation to touch upon the impact of audism and Deafhood.

Audism is defined as bias against deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. Each of the presenters throughout the week will address the concept and suggestions for understanding its implications in interpersonal relationships.

Two films will be shown - the first,an airing of the documentary film Audism Unveiled (57 minutes). It defines the concept of audism through a series of interviews with deaf and hard-of-hearing people recounting their experiences from job discrimination, attempts to ‘cure’ deafness to miscommunication with other individuals.

Another featured film, Signing in Public Spaces includes talks and clips from past NTID Communication Forums about the request for all NTID faculty and staff to sign at all times in NTID public spaces.

While faculty and staff will be well-represented in programming, several students will also be featured during the week. They will present a hands-on workshop, skit and discussion on their experiences with diversity and deaf culture. They will share with and help the audience understand their theme of “I am not an alien” in a fun, hour-long presentation.

Closing the week will be a faculty development workshop on working effectively in classrooms with both deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students. This workshop is directed particularly toward helping non-signing hearing faculty develop the skills to build more inclusive classrooms.

A schedule of all the workshop programs and descriptions can be found at On-campus guests can register at this site. Off-campus guests can register by contacting Michelle Cometa at

All programs will be sign and voice interpreted. They are free and open to faculty, staff, students, alumni, administrators and colleagues within the Rochester community.

Contacts: Michelle Cometa, chair, The President’s Commission on Pluralism and Inclusion or, Sandra Whitmore, executive assistant to the chief diversity officer, 475-5453.