Monthly Archives: August 2015

RIT/NTID Receives $4 Million Boost for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing Education

The National Science Foundation has renewed its pledge to funding resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing education by awarding an additional $4 million to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to continue DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, an Advanced Technological Education National Center of Excellence. The gift is the second largest NSF award in RIT history. The largest NSF grant awarded to RIT was given four years ago when the foundation pledged $4.45 million over four years to initially fund the center.

“DeafTEC’s goal has always been to successfully integrate more deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals into the workplace in highly-skilled technician jobs in which these individuals are currently underrepresented and underutilized,” said Donna Lange, NTID’s principal investigator on the project. “Although some progress has been made, people with disabilities, particularly Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, continue to be employed at rates much lower than the rest of the population. This renewed funding will help DeafTEC to continue to reduce this inequity by increasing the access that deaf and hard-of-hearing students have to career information, to a technical education, and to unrestricted employment.”

DeafTEC is developing a model within targeted regions of the country, including California, Texas, Florida and multiple locations in the Midwest, through partnerships with high schools, community colleges and industry with the goal of building a professional community that will improve access to technological education and employment for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Partnership activities include professional development for educators, specifically related to best teaching practices and providing instructional materials and strategies for helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students develop skills in math and writing, and for employers on how to successfully integrate deaf and hard-of-hearing employees into the workplace. The program also works with community colleges to develop strategies for recruiting and retaining students in STEM programs, and introduces deaf and hard-of-hearing middle- and high-school students to STEM programs and careers via job shadowing, field trips and internships.

“This new NSF funding will help us to provide valuable online resources and curricular materials for students to develop job readiness skills and for secondary teachers to learn to address the needs of their deaf and hard-of hearing students, with all of it available online nationally,” added Lange. “We are also proud to work with our returning military veterans, many of whom have hearing impairments as a result of their active service. We are developing resources for community college instructors to address the academic challenges that student veterans with hearing loss face in STEM programs.”

According to Lange, through another DeafTEC program, RIT/NTID STEM courses are currently offered for credit to deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students across the country, and articulation agreements are being developed to help transition deaf and hard-of-hearing students form high school to college.

“We are pleased that the National Science Foundation has renewed its commitment to and funding for NTID’s innovative DeafTEC program,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “DeafTEC will broaden the participation in technical careers among deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals by providing them, as well as their teachers, counselors, employers and co-workers, with the resources that will help them succeed both in the classroom and on the job. The center’s emphasis on universal design and math and English resources can benefit students with language difficulties as well as students who are deaf and hard of hearing. The regional partnerships established in three different states can serve as a model that can be replicated in other regions as well as with other groups of underserved students.”

DeafTEC is housed at NTID, one of RIT’s nine colleges. NTID was established in 1965 to reverse the long history of under-employment and unemployment among our nation’s deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens. More than 1,300 deaf and hard-of-hearing students are fully mainstreamed on RIT’s campus with 17,000 hearing students.

RIT/NTID Alumnus Part of 22nd Annual Oldtime Baseball Game

RIT/NTID alumnus Skip Flanagan will join Boston Red Sox greats Jim Lonborg and Lou Merloni and other players on Thursday, Aug. 27 at the 22nd annual Abbot Financial Management Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter’s Field on Sherman Street in North Cambridge, Massachusetts. Pre-game ceremonies begin at 7 p.m., and admission is free.

Proceeds from the game will endow the Oldtime Baseball Game/Dummy Hoy Scholarship, which will be awarded to a deaf or hard-of-hearing student from New England to attend Rochester Institute of Technology. For the first time, the game will be accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences: an additional six sign language interpreters will be placed throughout the area, the National Anthem will be signed as well as sung and four 70-inch television screens will be on hand to provide real-time captioning of all the action. No stranger to baseball, the captionist also provides real-time captioning at the Washington Nationals games.

The Oldtime Baseball Game is a celebration of our national pastime. From its humble beginnings in 1994, the game has grown considerably over the years yet remains loyal to its mission of offering a glimpse of what it was like in the old days, when hundreds of fans would turn out to root for their “town” team in various local semipro leagues. Players will wear flannel uniforms from virtually every era in baseball history. Used just once a year for the game, the uniforms represent such long-ago teams as the Boston Braves, St. Louis Browns, Homestead Grays and Kansas City Monarchs. Lonborg, the 1967 American League Cy Young Award winner, will wear a uniform he wore during his playing career.   

Lonborg became familiar with RIT/NTID through his friendship with RIT/NTID alumnus and Framingham native Skip Flanagan, who was born deaf. Flanagan, who played baseball for the RIT Tigers and has played in the Oldtime Baseball Game since 2012, earning Most Valuable Player honors his first year, extended a personal invitation for Lonborg to play in this year’s game.

“We first met at a charity event and we’ve remained close,” said Lonborg. “I’ll probably only face a couple of batters, but he’s going to be one of them. As long as he pulls the ball, we should be OK.”

William “Dummy” Hoy, who played for seven big-league teams from 1888 to 1902, including five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, is considered one of the game’s first well-known deaf players. He has been credited with helping to establish the “safe” and “out” calls that are used in baseball to this day. He was a lifetime .288 hitter. Flanagan, who earned a degree in Psychology and Exercise Science at RIT/NTID, has devoted much of his life to inspiring the National Baseball Hall of Fame to consider Dummy Hoy for induction.

“Dummy Hoy is a proven winner as he overcame all the obstacles, especially in the late 1800’s, and his perseverance is what everyone —  deaf or hearing — should have in order to be successful in all aspects of life,” said Flanagan. “He’s one of my biggest inspirations and has shown me how to dream big and then chase that dream.”

Although the Oldtime Baseball Game includes amateur players from schools throughout the Boston area and beyond, more than 40 past participants have gone on to play professionally.

Fans are asked to bring a beach blanket or chair and to camp out along the foul lines, as it is the crowd that makes the game so electric. The rain date for the Oldtime Baseball Game is Friday, August 28, also at 7 p.m. For more information about the Oldtime Baseball Game, visit


St. Peter’s Field is located at 59 Sherman Street in North Cambridge, not far from the Fresh Pond Traffic Circle. From Route 128, take Exit 29A, picking up Route 2 East. Continue on Route 2 about 6.3 miles, to Route 16 East, being sure to bear left at the fork, following the “Arlington-Medford next left” sign. Follow to Massachusetts Avenue and turn right. Follow to Rindge Avenue and turn right. Follow to Sherman Street and turn left. Follow to St. Peter’s Field, which is on the right.

From Harvard Square, follow Massachusetts Avenue north about one-quarter of a mile, turning left on Linnaean Street. At the end of Linnaean Street, turn right onto Garden Street. Bear right at the firehouse onto Sherman Street and follow to St. Peter’s Field, which is on the left.

Princeton Review Names RIT Among Best Colleges

Rochester Institute of Technology is again being recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best universities for undergraduate education. The education-services company features RIT in the just-published 2016 edition of its annual book The Best 380 Colleges.

In its profile on RIT, The Princeton Review quotes extensively from students at the university who were surveyed for the book.

According to a summary of student comments, “Rochester Institute of Technology is bursting at the seams with a myriad of fantastic academic opportunities. Students here greatly value the fact that the university maintains a strong ‘focus on innovation’ and heavily encourages ‘collaboration [between] business and technology.’…Moreover, an RIT education isn’t merely theoretical. Indeed, undergrads have many chances to participate in (all) manner of labs and workshops, applying what they study and participating in a number of hands-on experiences.”

The publication also cites “RIT’s fabulous co-op program which allows students to get real-world experience while still in school. More.

Brenneman Named Outstanding Alumnus of 2015

After Andrew Brenneman graduated, he made an effort to stay in contact with RIT/NTID.

Brenneman ’86, ’88 (accounting, business management) was the first deaf alumnus to serve on the RIT Board of Trustees. He served on the NTID National Advisory Group and the Alumni Campaign Leadership Committee for NTID.

He was NTID’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2007 and RIT’s Volunteer of the Year in 2010.

Brenneman will be honored for his ongoing support of the university with the Outstanding Alumnus of 2015 award at the Presidents’ Alumni Ball on Oct. 16 during Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend. The award is the highest honor RIT can bestow upon an alumnus.

“I told Dr. Destler I don’t think I really deserve this,” Brenneman said. “There are so many other people who deserve it. I give a lot of my time to RIT but I still feel like I don’t give enough.”

Brenneman has been making an impact at RIT since he was a student in the 1980s. He was the first deaf member of RIT’s Alpha Sigma Lambda Honorary Society, which recognizes academic achievement and leadership in college organizations.

After graduating, Brenneman, who is a fifth generation salesman, was recruited into J.P. Morgan’s Management Training Program. He was one of only 100 graduates to be chosen from the original pool of 1,500 who applied. Brenneman worked with J.P. Morgan for seven years, holding various positions from system liaison to business support analyst.

From there he went to Sprint, based in Reston, Va., as an account manager.

At Sprint he was promoted to national account executive, then to senior national account executive.

He is a four-time recipient of Sprint’s President’s Club Award, given to the top 1 percent of sales performers. As a senior national account executive, he is responsible for nationwide sales.

He and his wife, Mary (Fracassini) Brenneman ’84, ’86 (applied art and computer graphics, accounting), have two children, Andrew and Hannah.

He said at RIT he learned how to be a critical thinker and how to move quickly because of the quarter system. The fast pace prepared him well for the business world.

“I am very thankful for the education that I received at RIT. I’m thankful for the staff and the faculty and their commitment. They obviously truly care about their students’ success. I appreciate that so much,” he said. “I know I’m very lucky.”