Monthly Archives: April 2017

Four named to NTID National Advisory Group

headshots of Karen Griffard Putz, Tracy Ivy, Pamela Lloyd-Ogoke and Scott Wills

The U.S. Department of Education has approved the appointments of four professionals to the National Advisory Group for Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Their terms will expire on December 31, 2020.

The NTID National Advisory Group advises the NTID president in developing and carrying out policies governing the operation and direction of the college. The group comprises professionals concerned with the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, professionals concerned with postsecondary education and individuals familiar with the need for the services provided by NTID.

“The wise counsel and contributions of our National Advisory Group benefit all of us at NTID,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “We are grateful for their commitment to the college and our students.”

The newest members are:

Karen Griffard Putz of Bolingbrook, Illinois. Griffard Putz is the owner of Ageless Passions, a speaking, writing and coaching service. She has served on many different boards, including the Illinois Families for Hands & Voices, and the national organization of Hands & Voices.

Tracy Ivy, of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Ivy holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from RIT/NTID and was the first black female president of the NTID Student Congress. She is a certified teacher of American Sign Language and currently teaches at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota. She also has been a member of the NTID Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Pamela Lloyd-Ogoke of Garner, North Carolina. Lloyd-Ogoke is an RIT alumna, and currently serves as the Chief of Community Integration Services and Supports for the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. From 1998-2004 she served as RIT’s Coordinator of Disability Services and ADA Compliance Officer. She holds a master’s degree from New York University in Deafness Rehabilitation.

Scott Wills of Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Willis holds a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of North Carolina and is a research scientist and group leader for the Dow Chemical Company in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. He has recruited several RIT/NTID graduates to work at Dow and has served as a member of RIT/NTID’s Employer Advisory Group.

The four join current members of the advisory group:

Bedarius Bell, State Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. 

Joyce Bender, CEO of Bender Consulting Services, Inc. and host of the Internet Talk Radio show “Disability Matters with Joyce Bender.”

Lisa Dallos, founder of High10Media, a New York-based communications company. 

Christopher Lehfeldt, DDS, a dentist with the Elmwood Dental Group in Rochester, New York and a staff dentist at the Finger Lakes Community Health Center in Penn Yan, New York.

Mary Beth Mothersell, Senior Customer Relations Manager for Sprint Relay in Rochester, New York.

David Nelson, Senior Community Outreach Specialist in the Amtrak Government Affairs Department.

Gabrielle Nocciolino, Coordinator of the Performing Arts Program at the Texas School for the Deaf.

Michael Tecklenburg, Counsel to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Kathleen Treni, Principal of the Continuum of Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in Bergen Country Special Services District.

Sean Virnig, Associate Director of the State Special Schools and Services Division of the California Department of Education.

Douglas Watson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas. 



Winners of RIT/NTID’s Next Big Idea announced

Chris Wagner, Wade Keller, Hans Khols and Gerry Buckley together in front of brick wall with a check.

BAGMAG, a hands-free solution for making skateboards more easily portable on the back of a backpack, took home the $5,000 first prize in the 2017 Next Big Idea competition at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Judges from the competition’s sponsor, ZVRS, a video relay service headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, reviewed the projects of the four team finalists, asked questions and selected first, second and third place winners:

$5,000 First Place: BAGMAG, uses a strong magnet inserted on the backpack that connects to a strong magnet affixed to the bottom of the skateboard and eliminates the need to remove the backpack and use straps to affix the skateboard.

$3,000 Second Place: ASL Storyteller, an interactive app that offers sign language to babies, both hearing and deaf, to help with language development and creates a richer environment for signing babies.

$2,000 Third Place: Expect Zone, a rear-view mirror with three flashing lights that lets deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers know when an ambulance, police car or fire engine is coming near. It flashes more quickly as the emergency vehicle gets closer.     

Four teams of deaf and hard-of-hearing students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf went head-to-head April 26 during The Next Big Idea Competition, a ”Shark Tank” style business competition.

The contest is an annual event where teams of students combine skills related to their individual majors to create innovative products, technology or businesses. Teams work with mentors on their projects and compete before judges for cash prizes. This year marks the sixth anniversary of The Next Big Idea competition.

Team members are:

ASL Storyteller—Julie Love, a Graphic Design major from Riverside , California, and Logan Lugo, an International Business major from Columbus, Ohio.

BAGMAG—Hans Khols , an Industrial Design major from Boston, Massachusetts, and Wade Kellard, a Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Expect Zone— Amelia Hamilton, a New Media Marketing major from Austin, Texas, and Tanner Ketchum, an Accounting Technology major from Austin, Texas.

VIGN— Tobin Zolkowski, a Communication and Criminal Justice major from Neenah, Wisconsin, Iswor Ghimire, a Global Computing major from Nepal, Mohd Afifi Ishak, an Industrial Design major from Malaysia, and Jose Lopez, an Applied Computer Technology major from Los Angeles, California. Vign, described as a “Netflix for deaf people,” is designed to stream program content in sign language.

 “The Next Big Idea competition is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work, creativity and innovation on the part of these student inventors and entrepreneurs,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “We have seen some amazing products and services start in this competition and move into production. We thank ZVRS for their steadfast support since the beginning of the Next Big Idea, and are grateful for the belief they have in our students.” 

AMPHL 2017 comes to RIT/NTID

Logo of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses

The Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses (AMPHL) is hosting its 2017 Conference at RIT/NTID June 9-11, 2017. The theme is "Forging Pathways to Health Care and Biomedical Science Careers." AMPHL is a professional association supporting medical practitioners, biomedical scientists, and interpreters in health care. For more information about the conference, visit: For more information about AMPHL, visit:

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center selected to participate in collections assessment program

Tabitha Jacques smiling, short hair in gray jacket and scarf next to piece of sculpture with paintings in background.

The Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has announced that it has been named one of 75 institutions from across the United States selected to participate in the inaugural year of the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program. 

Administered by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, CAP assists museums in improving the care of their collections by providing support for a conservation assessment of the museum’s collections and buildings. A team of two preservation professionals, hired through a $7,800 stipend provided by the program, will spend two days surveying the gallery and meeting with staff before preparing a comprehensive report that will identify preventive conservation priorities. The assessment report will help the arts center prioritize its collection care efforts in the coming years.

The application for the designation was submitted by Mackenzie Robbins, a 2016 graduate of RIT’s museum studies program. Robbins is a contractor assisting with the management of Dyer’s permanent collection.

“This designation is so exciting for all of us at Dyer Arts Center and NTID,” said Tabitha Jacques, gallery director. “This is the first step in the next phase of our collection care work, and is so crucial to protecting the valuable museum assets that have been entrusted to us. Dyer Arts Center means the world to so many people in the deaf community, and it is such a unique space to display creative works by artists from all over the world.”

Among other distinctions, Dyer Arts Center boasts the largest collection in the world of works by deaf and hard-of-hearing artists.

The CAP program is administered through a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant making agency that supports museums and libraries.

Spring hours for Dyer Arts Center are 10 a.m.­ to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday; and other times by appointment. For more information about Dyer Arts Center, go to

RIT/NTID and COLA present “The Love of Three Oranges”

easel with chalk board drawing of three oranges and production information.

RIT/NTID and the College of Liberal Arts present "The Love of Three Oranges" 7:30 p.m. April 27-29 and 2 p.m. April 30 in Panara Theatre. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 general admission. Tickets available at Performances will be captioned.

Forget all your dusty misconceptions about the traditions of Commedia dell'Arte as "The Love of Three Oranges," based on a scenario by Carlo Gozzi, provides a wild, raucous slapstick comedy that is completely retooled and revised for today's audiences. Prince Tartaglia's life is filled with misery until an evil witch and her equally evil henchmen curse him to search for three giant oranges. But this quest proves more fruitful than anyone could have imagined as a once-lonely prince discovers love, friendship and laughter when he encounters wizards, monarchs and a wild narrator who isn't sure how far removed from the story he really is. 

RIT/NTID welcomes Freeform actor Sean Berdy to campus May 2

Sean Berdy with brown hair, blue eyes, smiling and a blue background.

Sean Berdy, best known for his portrayal of the “Deaf James Dean” character Emmett on Freeform’s Switched at Birth, will speak from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, at Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

In “An Evening with Sean Berdy,” Berdy motivates audiences by using his own compelling life story as an example of what one can achieve if they never stop believing in themselves and refuse to let others define their limitations. Guests will also be treated to a special musical performance followed by a chance to meet Berdy and take a picture with him to commemorate the event.

Interpreting services will be provided. Tickets—only available online prior to the show--are $25 and can be purchased at A portion of the proceeds will be donated to NTID. For more information, contact

Knowing the Basics Pays Off

Student with baseball cap, mustache and blue shirt posing at Job Fair

Connor Fitzgerald, a student from from Lennon, Michigan, had a co-op as a machinist at Gleason Works in Rochester, New York. He had learned the basics and more in his Computer Intergrated Machining Technology classes and was able to apply his knowledge to the job right away. Connor was offered a full-time job at Gleason Works, which he accepted. and he's on his way to a bright future. more

Winners announced in national math competition

Group of four students in matching t-shirts working together on math problem with computer and calculators in front of them.

Winners have been announced in Rochester Institute of Technology’s annual Math Competition for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

The competition, held at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf April 7–9, welcomed 140 deaf and hard-of-hearing middle school students from Alabama; Connecticut; Ohio; California; Georgia; Delaware; Florida; New York; Texas; Indiana; Kansas; Washington, D.C.; Massachusetts; New Jersey; Oklahoma; Oregon; Rhode Island; Minnesota; Colorado; Washington; Tennessee; Pennsylvania; and New Mexico as well as Canada.

They competed in tasks that tested their speed and accuracy, teamwork and math skills.

Individual winners:

  • First ($100): Crystal Salit of Boyds, Md., from Maryland School for the Deaf.
  • Second ($75): Trey Johnson of Kyle, Texas, from Texas School for the Deaf.
  • Third ($50): Luke Wood of Fishers, Ind., from Indiana School for the Deaf.

Team winners:

  • First ($300): Maryland School for the Deaf
  • Second ($200): Texas School for the Deaf
  • Third ($100): Kenneth R. Olson Middle School,

Top Scorer: Crystal Salit of Boyds, Md., from Maryland School for the Deaf.

Most spirited team: E.C. Drury School for the Deaf, Milton, Ontario, Canada.

More information about the contest is available at