Monthly Archives: October 2017

Banquet and Celebration Friday, Nov. 10

Poster with brown frame. Image of Abbe de l'Eppe in religious garb on left and two sugar skull costumes on right.

The 6th Annual Deaf-Mute* Banquet celebrating the 305th birthday of Abbe de l'Eppe is combining with a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Latin American cultural celebration 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, in the Dyer Arts Center. Download the form to purchase tickets. 

*The idea of an international annual Deaf celebration arose within the Comite' des Sourds-Muets (the Deaf-Mute committee headed by Ferdinand Berthier) in Paris, France, to honor the birth of Abbe de l'Eppe, the hearing founder of the first free Deaf school, and supporter of sign language instruction (Gulliver, 2013). Since 1834 at the Parisian traditional annual banquets, they also noted accomplishments of Deaf indivduals in various fields. In keeping with this tradition, reenactments will happen at this banquet. 

RIT/NTID signs agreement with college in the Philippines

Various people standing behind a table with black tablecloth that reads RIT National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

For the past 20 years, Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (RIT/NTID) in Rochester, New York, has partnered with De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (CSB) in the Philippines, to provide educational outreach for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This week, the two colleges signed a formal memorandum of understanding to strengthen their cultural, educational and research ties.

The alliance, designed “to enhance mutual understanding and promote academic collaboration and cooperation,” will provide short and long-term teaching and seminar development and other forms of faculty collaboration and exchange with several RIT colleges, including NTID, the College of Applied Science and Technology and E. Philip Saunders College of Business. Initial faculty collaboration will place special emphasis on the shared understanding of curriculum, teaching methods and research related to the education of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Representing RIT/NTID at the signing was Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean, along with NTID’s Center for International Educational Outreach staff, led by Thomastine Sarchet. Chancellor Robert Tang and a delegation composed of CSB’s vice-chancellor for academics, deans and directors from several programs and schools were in attendance. 

“The linkages established through this and other MOU’s recognize the inherent quality and value each partner offers and the synergy that can be created by such cooperative endeavors,” Buckley said. “We are committed to further advancing our longstanding partnership with CSB and developing knowledge of the educational resources and research opportunities that exist between our institutions.”

The partnership also will provide undergraduate and graduate degree programs, student exchanges, study abroad and an exchange of academic information with a focus on deaf education, access technology and support services.

About De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde is a private Catholic college in the Malate district of Manila, Philippines, that features programs in deaf education and accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 

Researchers Study How Deaf People Learn, Grow

two females and one male with glasses and beard look at sensor cap with brain model and laptop in foreground.

Peter Hauser is a strategist—executing a carefully orchestrated plan to establish his Center on Cognition and Language at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as the premier location in the world for researching how deaf people develop, learn, grow, and live.

Hauser is inspiring an army of dedicated and talented student and faculty researchers to follow his lead and make a difference in the education, health, and wellness of deaf people for generations to come. Back in the early 2000s, Hauser was the first-ever practicing deaf neuropsychologist to work alongside physicians in diagnosing conditions such as learning disabilities, attention disorders, dementia, and depression in deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. But as Hauser’s career progressed, along with an increasing clinical workload, he realized that diagnoses were often made based on decades of studies of only hearing subjects. Further investigation revealed a significant lack of research using deaf and hard-of-hearing subjects.

“There was and still is a dire need for research on deaf individuals’ language, cognitive function, memory, and intelligence, which all play a role in understanding and diagnosing conditions and understanding how we learn and develop,” said Hauser. “There were times that I thought to myself, ‘How can I diagnose my deaf patients when the only basis for understanding I have is using irrelevant research?’ And while I truly loved working one-on-one with patients and physicians, I felt that I needed to impact the physical and mental well-being of deaf people, as well as their access to education, in a different way.”

After years of writing grants to secure funding and conducting his own research, Hauser created NTID’s Center on Cognition and Language in 2016—the only center of its kind in the world led by a deaf director and staffed primarily by deaf researchers. The center produces interdisciplinary and collaborative discoveries on the cognitive, language, and socio-cultural factors that affect deaf individuals’ learning, well-being, and health, and equally as important, shares these discoveries with other researchers, hospitals, schools, and clinics. Research projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and NTID.

“I would dream of starting this research center, and some days I didn’t think it would ever happen,” said Hauser. “But every day, I made little decisions based on closing in on that dream.”

Hauser is also passionate about developing future generations of deaf researchers and scientists in social, behavioral, and biomedical research disciplines and provides mentorship programs for deaf scholars. The center is home to two NIH-funded training programs committed to fostering aspiring deaf scientists’ development by providing outstanding mentored research experiences and one NSF-funded program to broaden the participation of deaf students in sign-language research.

Building an Army

RIT student Sarah Kimbley began her work in the center as an undergraduate. She works in the center’s Deaf x Lab, Sign Language Lab, and the Deaf Health Lab, and this fall is a scholar in the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program, which selects top RIT graduate students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and wish to pursue a doctoral degree.

Kimbley, an experimental psychology graduate student from Lakeland, Fla., is working on several projects including studying health literacy and understanding individuals’ feelings about being deaf. She is also comparing temporal sequence processing in deaf children and how language acquisition and audition may mediate neurocognitive functions like working memory, executive function, and sequence learning.

“Researchers claim deaf children with cochlear implants have a cognitive deficit that is due to a lack of auditory input,” said Kimbley. “However, our research proposes an alternative explanation. Language deprivation has a greater impact than auditory deprivation. In other words, not being exposed to language within the first five years can be harmful for cognitive functioning. We are predicting that our developmental study will show us that language fluency will have an impact while hearing level has little or no impact on cognitive functioning, specifically temporal sequence processing.”

The center staff works with and mentors students at all educational levels from first-year to graduate students, and beyond.

Tiffany Panko ’08, ’09 (applied arts and sciences, MBA) is a post-doctoral fellow in the center who graduated from RIT with concentrations in premedical and psychological studies and from the University of Rochester in 2016 with a medical degree. The Rochester native has studied and worked alongside Hauser off and on from as far back as 2004.

“I just can’t seem to get away from Peter,” jokes Panko. “As an undergraduate, I was in a class that he taught—Biological Basis of Mental Disorders, which was the class where I realized that I could blend my love of psychology with medicine and working with people. Last year, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my residency, so I contacted Peter and he told me that he could really use my expertise in the Deaf Health Lab. I’m working on a big five-year project that connects Rochester, Chicago, and Flint, Mich., and more than 1,000 deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people. All of these areas provide racial, ethnic, and economic diversity—rich research environments.”

The project, a partnership with the University of Michigan, will provide information on how to better provide preventive health and health care information to the diverse deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Eye trackers in the lab help Panko and others study how deaf users navigate health websites. The goal is to gain information on how different groups within the deaf community learn differently in order to customize how information can be delivered to these marginalized populations.

“I have learned so much about psychology and academic research during my time working here in the center, but more importantly, I have learned to become more confident in myself and my ability to achieve my goals,” added Kimbley.

Kimbley and Panko, who is also deaf, are just two of the 14 students, four staff members, and seven NTID faculty members who support Hauser and the center’s labs through their research.

“We bring together experts from different levels of education and different backgrounds including, but not limited to, linguists, physicians, cognitive scientists,” he added. “We bring them together for the first time in the same environment. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are creating new types of science that just aren’t possible without this one-of-a-kind collaboration.”

On the Web

NTID Center on Cognition and Language: www.ntid.rit.edu/nccl

Labs

NTID’s Center on Cognition and Language houses five labs, each focusing on a different aspect of deaf life.

  • Deaf Studies Laboratory—investigates how stigma about deaf people has an impact on those individuals’ education, health, and careers.
  • Deaf x Laboratory—investigates how the deaf experience shapes cognition, including attention and the executive functions using behavioral science tasks, electroencephalography, and eye tracking to understand the effects of language and hearing on cognition in adults and cognitive development in children.
  • Sign Language Laboratory—investigates issues in sign-language acquisition, educational interpreting, and sociolinguistics, including language variation and language attitudes.
  • Deaf Health Laboratory—establishes research related to the deaf community on preventive health, health literacy, health knowledge, and the deaf experience in health care.
  • Deaf Math-Science Language and Learning Lab—focuses on language learning and conceptual understanding in mathematics and science.

Mentorship Programs

Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate: deafscientists.com

Rochester Post-doc Partnership: www.urmc.rochester.edu/academic-research-careers-deaf-scholars.aspx

Broadening the Participation of Deaf Students in Sign Language Research program: Provides the top deaf and hard-of-hearing students from higher education institutions across the United States with mentored opportunities in sign language research.

RIT/NTID Performing Arts presents dance and music adaptation of ‘The Story of Beauty and the Beast,’ Nov. 9–12

Dark skinned male in blue jacket with red trip hugs a medium skinned female in white dress.

The Performing Arts program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will present a dance and music adaptation of The Story of Beauty and the Beast, conceived by Thomas Warfield, director of NTID’s dance department. The performance—an adaptation of the traditional fairy tale written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve—will be performed at NTID’s Panara Theatre in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9–11, and 2 p.m. Nov. 12. 

The show, co-directed and co-choreographed by Warfield and Nicole Hood-Cruz, tells the story of an arrogant young prince and his servants who fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, turning the prince into a hideous beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. A spirited village girl, Belle, enters the beast’s castle in search of her father who has been imprisoned there and begins to draw the cold-hearted beast out of isolation with the help of the enchanted servants. The take is freshly told through non-verbal expressions in a variety of dance styles, sign language and melody.

“This uniquely creative production of The Story of Beauty and the Beast showcases the outstanding talent of RIT’s deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors and dancers,” said Warfield. “And while this ‘tale as old as time’ is one that many people are familiar with, the innovative fusion of dance and music is certain to mesmerize audiences, young and old. One of the underlying messages in our production is there’s beauty in our differences. Music and dance help to express and communicate that understanding for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing communities coming together to present this beautiful show.”

Tickets can be purchased through RIT University Arenas and are $5 for students, senior citizens and children; $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni; and $12 for everyone else. Tickets will also be sold at the door on performance days. For more information, call 585-475-4121.

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center exhibit celebrates milestone anniversary of artist William ‘Lee’ Hoag

Platform with green container with orange spout and silver flexible hose and black piece with metal discs and the end.

The 25th anniversary of William “Lee” Hoag’s first art show is being celebrated this fall with a new show in the Ohringer Gallery of the Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf through Nov. 18. “HOAG/25 Years” is a collection of works spanning the past 25 years, across multiple media, along with 11 new pieces. An artist’s reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, in the gallery.

Hoag’s first exhibit, “ELEVEN: Recent Mixed-Media Sculptures from Bill Hoag,” debuted in 1992 in what was the White Room Gallery at the downtown Rochester nightclub Carpe Diem. Today, it’s the location of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

Hoag is the son of Ralph Hoag, who worked in the U.S. Department of Education under former presidents Kennedy and Johnson and played an instrumental role in the establishment of NTID. The elder Hoag was also a former superintendent of the Rochester School for the Deaf.

William “Lee” Hoag, who lives and works in Rochester, is a 1992 graduate of RIT’s Master of Science for Teachers in visual arts-all grades (art education) program and recently retired after a long career as a sign-language interpreter. He was formerly artist-in-residence at Freiluftgalerie Stotteritz in Germany and his artwork has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout Rochester and the region. He lectures locally and has been featured in several publications including City NewspaperLake Effect Magazine, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and Chenango Valley News. He has also had commissioned artwork displayed at Highland Park and Village Gate Square and he has won several grants and awards for his pieces.

“My first passion is art making, and when my proposed 25-year, multimedia retrospective exhibition was accepted by Tabitha Jacques, director of the Dyer Arts Center, I was ecstatic to say the least, given what it means to me not only as an alumnus, but mostly for my late father’s legacy and life’s work in deaf education,” said Hoag. “Both of my parents wholeheartedly supported my pursuit of art and being an artist. This important career exhibition at this time in my life at the Ohringer Gallery at the RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center is truly special indeed.”

The gallery is located in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, RIT/NTID, 52 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester. For more information, go to www.rit.edu/ntid/dyerarts/.

RIT/NTID job fair connects deaf students with employers across the country

Light skinned man on left with cochlear implant wearing suit chats with darker skinned man on right in red golf shirt, tan pants

Representatives from more than 40 local and national corporations, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations will meet with hundreds of deaf and hard-of-hearing students at the 17th annual job fair, 12:30–4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The event will be held in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall on the RIT campus.

“Employers will have the opportunity to recruit talented deaf and hard-of-hearing students in associate and bachelor’s degree programs such as business, finance, graphic design, engineering, computing and more,” said John Macko, director of NTID’s Center on Employment.

Interpreters will be available, and in many cases, the company recruiters are RIT/NTID alumni. Companies registered to attend the fair include Caterpillar, Communication Service for the Deaf, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, FDIC, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Merck, Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support, Prudential and Texas Instruments, among others. 

“Employers continue to want highly qualified employees who bring the necessary skills and who will fit into the company culture and contribute to the company’s success,” added Macko. “Our students are well-trained and can hit the ground running at companies right here in Rochester and all over the country.”

There are a few openings available for employers who want to participate. For more information, email Mary Ellen Tait or call 585-475-6426. 

What: 17th annual NTID Job Fair
Where: Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, Rochester Institute of Technology

When: 12:30-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18

Details: More than 40 local and national corporations, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations will be on campus to recruit deaf and hard-of-hearing students and graduates for co-op and full-time positions.

RIT offers new bachelor’s degree program in nutritional sciences

Collage of fruits and vegetables featuring red peppers, asparagus, green grapes, red apples, yellow squash, lettuce, mushrooms

RIT is offering a new bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences for students who want to apply nutrition concepts and principles to careers outside the clinical domain of registered dietetics nutrition. New this fall, the nutritional sciences major gives students an alternative path to a nutrition degree in RIT’s Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition. The program complements the existing bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition but without a clinical focus. More.

Meet NTID’s Distinguished Alumni

Light-skinned woman and man. She is in pink shirt and glasses, he is in orange shirt and glasses. there are palm trees behind.

Even though retired NTID faculty members and alumni Barbara Ray ’74, ’84 and Samuel ’77 Holcomb now live across the country in Arizona, it does not mean RIT and NTID are far from their hearts.

“Our favorite color is orange, our golf cart is orange, and our house has different colored orange paint,” said Samuel. “It keeps our minds on RIT every day.”

The couple, with a combined 75 years of service to the university, is also keeping their connection to NTID alive in another important way by helping to preserve NTID’s history. Both are involved in efforts for an NTID Alumni Museum.

“Since celebrating 50 years of NTID, we’ve been thinking about establishing a museum for our future generations so the deaf can appreciate and learn about NTID,” said Barbara Ray. “It’s important to preserve the unique culture here at RIT.”

Throughout their long careers with RIT and NTID, the Holcombs amassed a trove of memorabilia, from old textbooks to video phones, which they hope will be featured in the museum one day. Many items from their collection are already featured in the Deaf Studies Archive in The Wallace Center, which they were instrumental in helping to create.

For these efforts, Barbara Ray and Samuel will be honored as the NTID 2017 Distinguished Alumni on Oct. 13 at the RIT Presidents’ Alumni Ball.

Along with their work to preserve NTID’s historic materials, the former instructors have brought another of their passions from RIT to their new community—teaching. They conduct workshops for their local deaf community on subjects like technology and teach American Sign Language to the senior citizens in their area.

“We’ll always have the itch to teach,” said Samuel. “And RIT is always in our hearts, until we are buried.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to a certified alumnus/a who has performed with distinction at the highest levels of his or her chosen profession or who has contributed significantly to the advancement and leadership of noteworthy civic, philanthropic or service organizations over the course of many years. Those honored have brought distinction to their colleges and RIT through their professional, community and/or philanthropic achievements.

Barbara Ray and Samuel Holcomb