RIT/NTID Hosts First Deaf Entrepreneurs Roundtable

Panel discussion helps uncover the keys to successful deaf entrepreneurship

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A. Sue Weisler

RIT/NTID hosted the first Deaf Entrepreneurs Roundtable on Oct. 14.

Many states across the country are reporting deaf unemployment rates that are nearing 60 percent. One solution to this growing problem may be empowering more deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to become entrepreneurs.

Rochester Institute of Technology and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf explored the state of deaf entrepreneurship during a Deaf Entrepreneurs Roundtable on Oct. 14 at RIT.

The panel discussion, “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Entrepreneurs—Living the Dream,” explored a multitude of issues related to deaf entrepreneurship. The panel consisted of eight deaf and hard-of-hearing entrepreneurs from around the country who shared their keys to success and explained some of the challenges that they encountered along the way.

“This roundtable is part of a larger RIT/NTID research initiative designed to explore the current state of deaf entrepreneurship,” says James DeCaro, NTID’s interim president. “It is a collaborate effort that leverages the strength of partners across this university.”

These partners include NTID, which focuses on applied learning and providing a career-focused education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business, which includes faculty who have researched topics related to innovation management and entrepreneurial empowerment, the Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Lab for Social Computing.

“Our research, which is being funded by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation, should result in a better understanding of how to empower the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities through programs that encourage entrepreneurial outcomes,” says Richard DeMartino, director of the Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.