All posts by AlumniNews

RIT Tiger Trail Women Return From Nine-state Relay

Photo by: Kyle Hofsass

After eight days, nine states and 1,400 miles, 15 past and present members of the women’s cross country and track and field squads arrived back home at RIT on March 29. The runners, including RIT/NTID student-athletes Julie Kerchner and Amanda Dole, spent their spring breaks on the relay dubbed the Tiger Trail to raise awareness and funds for the Tigers for Tigers Coalition. More.

RIT Women’s Hockey to Play in First NCAA Division I National Tournament

The RIT women's hockey team will make its first appearance in the NCAA Division I National Tournament and travel to top-seed University of Minnesota for a quarterfinal round game on Saturday, March 14 at 5 p.m. EST/4 p.m. CST.

RIT is making its first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament in just its third season as a DI program. The Tigers won the Division III National Championship in 2012, were the national runner-up in 2011 and quarterfinalists in 2007. More.

Alumni Lunch and RIT Baseball Spring Training

Get ready for spring training – RIT Men’s Baseball spring training, that is! Join alumni and friends on Sunday, March 22 for a BBQ lunch and then kick back and take in an RIT baseball double header. Hosted by RIT/NTID Alumni Relations, but open to the entire RIT alumni and retiree community.

Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and the baseball game begins at 1:00 p.m..

Players and coaches will be joining us for this lunch before they head out onto the field, so don’t miss the opportunity to interact with them! In addition, RIT/NTID’s Sean “Skip” Flanagan is this year’s team co-captain and playing his final season with the team – come see him in action! Mingle with alumni, enjoy some spring baseball and cheer on the RIT Tigers!

Registration is $5 and includes entry ticket to spring training and BBQ lunch.  Please bring a lawn chair for seating, so you can view the baseball action in comfort. Register here

RIT/NTID Offers Online Speech Recognition Test

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has launched a website that provides individuals with one tool to determine whether they may benefit from hearing aids, allowing them to seek help sooner if that’s the case.

The test is free and can be found at:

“The test provides useful information and is recommended for anyone who is suspected of having a hearing loss,” said Joseph Bochner, who, with Wayne Garrison, worked on the website as a research project for several years.

Bochner, chairman of NTID’s cultural and creative studies department, and Garrison, a research faculty member in NTID’s Center on Access Technology, have spent years making sure the online test provides more accurate results than previously existing online tests offered elsewhere.

“This is a powerful diagnostic measure that has significant advantages over other measures of speech recognition,” Bochner said.

“The methods which we employ in our testing software have evolved from a unique cross-disciplinary combination of three distinct and generally unrelated fields: language sciences, audiology and psychometrics,” Garrison said. “The confluence of information from these diverse fields has resulted in a new approach to issues addressed in the hearing healthcare profession.”

Garrison said it historically takes seven or more years for someone who suspects they have difficulty hearing to seek help from a doctor or audiologist. The fact that this test is free, easy to access and is anonymous hopefully will encourage more people to take it, he added.

The test features sentences that appear on the screen. A voice speaks each sentence and in some cases, the audio matches the sentence. In other cases, the audio may be slightly different than what appears in the text. It is the user’s job to determine whether or not the audio matches the sentence.

A practice question from the test: “Did you notice the car on Main Street?” was printed, and spoken audio said, “Did you notice the tar on Main Street?”

According to experts, there are different degrees of hearing loss. Most hearing losses involve high frequencies and make parts of words difficult to comprehend. Although many people who have trouble hearing adapt by guessing what they thought they heard, the test shows how the slightest miscommunication can have different meanings.

Bochner says NTID’s test is “a diagnostic measure that has significant advantages over other measures of speech recognition.” Those who score low are urged to follow up with a medical professional to see if they may benefit from audiological services.

Users need to provide an email address to take the test, but that’s to allow them to return in the future and compare results to see whether their hearing may have improved or deteriorated.

RIT/NTID Alumna Brandi Rarus Presentation and Book Signing

RIT/NTID alumna Brandi Rarus will give a presentation and book signing from 7-9 p.m. Thurs., March 12 in the CSD-Student Development Center, rooms 1300/1310. Rarus is an author and a former Miss Deaf America. She is married Tim Rarus, an advocate for deaf people whose work inspired the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. They live in Austin, Texas, with their four children: three hearing boys and the youngest, Zoe, a deaf girl they adopted. Today, she and her family are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring all children find their rightful place in our world. 

David Nelson ’81, ’85 Named RIT/NTID Distinguished Alumnus

David Nelson is senior community outreach specialist in Government Affairs at the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”). He is responsible for providing accessibility information, managing outreach activities by Amtrak to the disability community and overseeing internal projects to ensure accessible compliance. Prior to joining Amtrak, David worked for the Honorable Tony Coelho (D-CA), who was one of the authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which marks its 25th anniversary in July 2015.

David is an active member of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and in 2004 received NAD’s prestigious Frederick C. Schreiber Distinguished Service Award. He now represents NAD on issues concerning telecommunication and transportation. David served as president of the District of Columbia Association of the Deaf and the Florida School for the Deaf Alumni Association, and gives presentations on Deaf culture and how to best serve deaf and hard-of-hearing customers to various groups and companies.

An NTID community reception honoring David will be held on Thursday, April 16, and he will be honored along with Distinguished Alumni Award winners from RIT’s other colleges at a ceremony at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17 in Webb Auditorium. Both events will be open to all faculty, staff, students, and alumni. 

RIT/NTID Professor Named to Distinguished Fulbright Specialist Roster

Adding to his remarkable achievements in and out of the classroom, Todd Pagano, associate professor of chemistry and director of the Laboratory Science Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, has been named to the Fulbright Specialist Program. The program, which provides Fulbright Specialists two- to six-week grants, promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals in select disciplines and their counterparts at host institutions in more than 140 countries around the world. Pagano is still waiting for word on where he might be placed.

“The globalization of science is upon us,” said Pagano in his Fulbright application. “Today, scientists and corporations work across borders and diverse cultures. U.S. professors are increasingly involved with students from diverse cultures, while attempting to teach all students to be ‘global citizens.’ My goal is to develop ways to improve the teaching of chemistry while substantially broadening opportunities in the field for traditionally underserved students in an effort to narrow gaps in the attainment of education and employment in the field. I would like to work with host institutions to develop chemistry curricula and establish sustainable programs, interventions, and research opportunities for disadvantaged students.”

At NTID, Pagano developed the Laboratory Science Technology program, the world’s only chemical technology program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. In 2012, he was named U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He has also received the American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, sponsored by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and the Stanley Israel Medal for Diversity in Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. He is an American Chemical Society Fellow and was named to Rochester Business Journal’s ‘Forty Under 40’ list of professionals who have made significant community contributions. He has also earned two faculty humanitarian awards as well as RIT’s Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“As a scientist, my hypothesis is that my interactions abroad would uncover fundamental differences in approaches to serving students in educational science programs, but also deep-rooted similarities in the innate care and desire for populations to help those who are less fortunate,” added Pagano. “I am excited about the prospect of extending my quest to broaden educational and research opportunities for underserved students overseas, and believe the Fulbright Specialist program is the ideal vehicle to do so.”