Building community is the theme of latest NTID Dyer Arts Center exhibits

Man and woman looking at two large paintings. Woman is pointing to the painting on the left.

Two exhibits running simultaneously at the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf have a central theme of connecting Rochester’s deaf and hearing artistic communities.

Open through Dec. 15, “Cultivating Connections: Growing Communities in the Flower City” showcases artwork representing our local community and features artists living within Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Orleans, Livingston and Genesee counties. “6x6 Deaf Pride” features more than 100 artworks created by members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, as well as allies of the deaf community. The artworks in the “6x6 Deaf Pride” exhibit are available for $20 each. Proceeds will be donated to the Dyer Arts Center.

All of the artwork is representative of the artist’s community, which can include, but isn’t limited to, geography, religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, or LGBTQIA+ identification, or a combination of these.

“Originally, this exhibition was only going to showcase local deaf artists, but I realized that by doing that, we are siloing ourselves from the Rochester community,” said Tabitha Jacques, Dyer Arts Center director. “This exhibit—in which 50 percent of the artists are deaf— is about celebrating how unique Rochester is and will hopefully bring a new set of visitors to the gallery. We want our guests to learn more about the deaf experience, the diversity of our local communities and the Dyer Arts Center.”

Jacques is also expecting the dual exhibits to have a “ripple effect,” building a continued interest in connecting Rochester’s deaf and hearing communities.

“One of my goals has always been to bridge the artistic and deaf communities,” added Jacques. “Many years later, my goal is the same, and I’m proud that it is manifesting in this way.”

The gallery is located on the RIT campus in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, 52 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go to www.rit.edu/ntid/dyerarts/.

NTID Performing Arts and RIT College of Liberal Arts co-present ‘Cabaret’ Nov. 30-Dec. 2

A group of multi-ethnic male and female dancers with arms linked in a circle kicking up their heels.

The unique blend of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students performing on stage together will guarantee theater-goers a one-of-a-kind experience at the debut of the Tony-award winning classic Cabaret at Rochester Institute of Technology. The performance of the hit musical will run in Panara Theatre in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and 2 p.m. Dec. 1–2.   

The show, directed by Andy Head, visiting assistant professor, welcomes theater-goers to the top-secret Kit Kat Klub, where the music is loud, the dances are flashy and the party rages on. The club’s newest headliner, Sally Bowles, meets American writer Cliff Bradshaw, and their lives become entwined. But, as Nazism spreads throughout Germany, questions and concerns continue to grow about how the club, its patrons, and Sally and Cliff—played by Kyle Buohl, a third-year ASL-English interpretation major from Boston—will fare. The show is not appropriate for children under 12.

“Though it takes place in a very specific era, Cabaret has a timeless feel to it,” said Head. “Set in Germany at the crossroads of the crumbling Weimer Republic and the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party, it shows us how people react to a rising story on the horizon. Some flee, some fight, some fall in line, and some ignore the problem. A story like Cabaret forces us to ask ourselves how we react when we see injustice spreading around us.

“In addition, we’ve changed the roles of many of the characters from hearing to deaf and the effects are far-reaching. It affects the characters, the way the story is told, and how the audience receives the story. Because of these conceptual changes, audiences will be treated to a truly new and unique Cabaret. On a daily basis, I am amazed by what our students can do. This show is challenging them in ways they might never have been challenged before onstage.”

This is Victoria Covell’s first foray into musical theater. She takes on the lead role of Sally Bowles.

“It has been a rich learning experience, and I am loving it,” said Covell, a third-year graphic design major from Jacksonville, Ill. “I have had to learn to balance my time with school work and memorizing my lines. But it has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn how to be self-confident. I also love that I have been able to make new friends along the way.”

The show is co-presented by RIT’s College of Liberal Arts and NTID’s Performing Arts program.

Tickets can be purchased through RIT University Arenas and are $5 for students and senior citizens, $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni, and $12 for the general public. Tickets will also be sold at the door two hours before show time on performance days. American Sign Language interpreters will be available for all performances. For more information, call 585-475-4121.

RIT officially opens new MAGIC Spell Studios building

Night shot of two-story brick building with front sign that reads

Rochester Institute of Technology opened the newest building on campus—the 52,000-square-foot MAGIC Spell Studios. The building brings together RIT’s academic strengths in game design and development, film and animation, and digital media. The new facility—the only one of its kind in the Northeast—boasts the latest in technology and design, rivaling media production studios in New York City and Hollywood. More.

Student Spotlight: TJ Bartholomew

Male basketball player with dark skin wearing a white tank top dribbles a basketball on court..

RIT/NTID student TJ Bartholomew is a third-year exercise science major from New York City. Sports and exercise are very important to Bartholomew, which is why exercise science was such a great fit for him. Outside of classes, he enjoys playing basketball and is involved with the Deaf Basketball Association, an intramural sport at RIT. He also is a member of Men of Color, Honor and Ambition and enjoys reading and exercising on his own during his spare time. More.

RIT/NTID earns National Science Foundation funding to explore augmented reality technology

Darker skinned female student wearing augmented reality goggles. Light skinned female faculty is adjusting the goggles on her.

Using augmented reality to make science, technology, engineering and math content more accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing learners in live presentation settings is the goal of a $258,000 grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Researchers and developers at RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology Laboratory will focus on hands-on learning and comprehension at science centers and museums.

According to researchers, prior work on augmented reality in education has shown positive results, however, this work has largely overlooked the deaf and hard-of-hearing population. This project represents the first step in a partnership between RIT/NTID and the Rochester Museum & Science Center, which includes the Rochester Challenger Learning Center.

The proposed project involves developing an AR platform that will allow deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors to receive signed or captioned instruction while still looking at and/or interacting with exhibits. The platform will allow for transmission of live and spontaneous (not only scripted or pre-recorded) instruction at museums and planetariums nationwide.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing learners, ages 11 to 14 from around the United States, will serve as a test audience for the pilot implementation. The team will collect data on the use of this technology to help set future directions for additional research and development.

This project focuses on broadening participation and promoting innovation in informal STEM learning, which is crucial for deaf and hard-of-hearing youth, who are frequently excluded from informal and incidental learning STEM experiences and subsequently enter STEM professions at significantly lower rates than the hearing population,” said Wendy Dannels, RIT/NTID research associate professor and principal investigator on the project.

Dannels says the development team working on these AR technologies will be composed primarily of deaf and hard-of-hearing students and faculty, framing the community as a source of technical innovation rather than simply being recipients of these solutions.

“This project represents a first step in setting future directions for research and development and to make educational materials more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” she added.

RIT among schools to receive $1 million for clean energy project

Light skinned female with long dark hair at podium with US flag and banner on energy in background.

Rochester Institute of Technology has won $1 million as part of the Energy to Lead Competition, which challenges New York colleges and universities to develop plans for local clean energy projects on campus and in their communities as the state seeks innovative solutions to combat climate change.

RIT will create a platform that integrates multiple data sources to enable a building’s existing automation system to manage operation schedules, adjust ventilation rates in classrooms and respond to peak demand days, according to Enid Cardinal, senior sustainability adviser to the president. Cardinal will serve as lead principal investigator on the project.

The platform, once tested and deployed at RIT, will be tested at Monroe Community College’s downtown campus and then made publicly available free of charge for other institutions to leverage. The project is expected to result in the avoidance of 108 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

“Through the ‘Energy to Lead’ competition, New York is fostering clean energy innovation to help fight climate change and protect our environment,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “I commend the students and faculty for their steadfast commitment to improving their campus and community, helping to create a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

The Energy to Lead Competition, announced by Gov. Cuomo in 2015, is part of the REV Campus Challenge, which recognizes and supports colleges and universities across New York state that strive to meet their financial, environmental, academic and community goals through clean energy solutions.

As a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and member of the REV Campus Challenge, RIT has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030.

“This project leverages many of RIT’s strengths, including our innovative spirit, the cutting-edge nature of our academic programs, and the way our campus serves as a laboratory for experiential learning,” RIT President David Munson said during yesterday’s announcement of the Energy to Lead grant inside RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “We applaud Gov. Cuomo for investing in research that addresses solutions to global challenges and for recognizing the important role of higher education in working toward these solutions.”

Applicant schools were required to submit projects which demonstrate innovation in one or more of the following areas: project design, business model, partnerships, and/or curriculum integration. Schools and universities were also required to describe the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, how they would measure success and how they would use the funding to advance the project. These projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,125 metric tons over the next five years.

The competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and open to two- or four-year public or private colleges or universities. The competition challenges schools to develop ideas for innovative projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy or greenhouse gas emission reduction on campus, in the classroom and in surrounding communities.   

This round of Energy to Lead included 24 project submissions from 21 different public and private colleges and universities across the state. Applications were reviewed by an evaluation panel and winners were chosen based on project cost effectiveness, innovativeness, energy efficiency and clean energy measures, the impact on greenhouse gas emissions and how funding would be used to advance the project on campus and in the community.

For more information on Energy to Lead, go to NYSERDA’s website.

RIT/NTID honors researchers with Sponsored Programs Awards

Group photo of 14 smiling men and women with orange flower corsages.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf recently honored 12 researchers and program directors for their work leading to new knowledge, strategies or programs and services to improve the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. 

Award recipients are:

Scholarship Portfolio Development Initiative (SPDI) – Internal seed funding opportunity for early-career faculty and contract research faculty, whose projects typically represent the initial stages of projects that could attract external support in the future. They are:

  • Robyn Dean, assistant professor in NTID’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education Department: Investigating interpreter fatigue, and how it can be exaggerated or mitigated by varying the way in which pairs of interpreters work.
  • Jason Nordhaus, assistant professor in NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics: Exploring the behavior of a black hole inside a giant star using dynamical 3D simulations.
  • Corrine Occhino, research assistant professor in NTID’s Sign Language Laboratory: Along with co-investigator Joseph Hill, examining the variations in ASL that correlate to diverse regional, racial, ethnic, and socio-economic factors and evaluating how ASL users regard the use of non-standard varieties of the language.
  • Jessica Trussell, assistant professor in NTID’s Master of Science program in Secondary Education and researcher in NTID’s Center for Education Research Partnerships: Developing and implementing an intensive approach to reading comprehension for deaf and hard-of-hearing readers that requires students to work in collaborative groups. 

NTID Sponsored Programs Awards – A new award program that recognizes individuals who have made a difference. Awardees are nominated by NTID faculty. Awards include:

Student Research Mentor Award to Bonnie Jacob, assistant professor in NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics. Jacob’s work has supported 17 student researchers. She is the principal investigator of the first all-deaf and hard-of-hearing Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program supported by the NSF. 

Up-and Coming PI Award to Jason Nordhaus, assistant professor in NTID’s Department of Science and Mathematics. Nordhaus is nationally known for research describing stellar evolution. He is affiliated with RIT’s College of Science and its world-renowned Center on Computational Relativity and Gravity (CCRG).

Collaborator Award to Keith Mousley, associate professor in NTID”s Department of Science and Mathematics. Mousley’s work collaborating with other researchers explores issues connected to teaching math and other STEM skills to deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Co-PI Award to Myra Pelz, associate professor and co-PI for DeafTEC. For the past seven years, Pelz has been the full-time co-PI of DeafTEC, one of NTID’s signature programs with more than 29 partner high schools in 17 states.

PI Award to Matt Dye, assistant professor and Deaf x Laboratory director. Dye has successfully launched a long-range program of research in cognitive neuroscience supported by a total of seven awards from NIH, NSF, and the Swiss National Science Foundation, as well as one SPDI award. Dye’s funded projects presently employ a full-time research coordinator and a postdoctoral scholar, and support the efforts of graduate and undergraduate research assistants.

Partner Award to Matt Huenerfauth, associate professor in RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Presented to a collaborator from one of RIT’s other colleges who has helped NTID realize its goals, the award recognized Huenerfauth as a key partner in projects investigating topics in mixed mode communication and communication technology. He is the founder of the Linguistic and Assistive Technologies Laboratory (“LATLab”), a bilingual (English / ASL) research lab.

Pioneer Award to Mike Stinson, professor and NTID research faculty member. This award recognizes Stinson for his pioneering work to develop speech-to-text technology for the higher education classroom, work that continues to the present in the guise of research on automated speech recognition. C-Print® is the first research-based speech-to-text (captioning) technology and service for educational usage, and has been used in educational environments across the country in grades 4 through postsecondary programs.

X-Factor Award to Donna Easton, research assistant, NTID’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Virtual Academic Community. The award, honoring those who support the work of a project team, was given to Easton for her critical contributions to 11 funded projects including C-Print® and the Virtual Academic Community.

Founders Award to Jim DeCaro, NTID dean emeritus. This award acknowledges a lifetime of achievement in educational programming for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, along with DeCaro’s success in spreading the knowledge and educational expertise of NTID faculty around the world. DeCaro’s vision and drive also were instrumental in establishing NTID’s first dedicated research facility, Rosica Hall, which is presently at full occupancy with four centers, one major program, one research lab, and other research projects that are largely funded by external grants. 

“NTID’s 50th anniversary year is an excellent time to introduce this recognition program,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “The program celebrates why principal investigators seek funding – because they need resources so that they can continue to make a difference in the world.”