Ryan Hait-Campbell named National Association of the Deaf Youth Ambassador

Ryan Hait-Campbell, who with three other students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf helped start a business intended to help communication between deaf and hearing people, was named Deaf Youth Ambassador by the National Association of the Deaf during their recent convention in Atlanta.

“I am very honored that I won and I will do my best to push for a deaf accelerator program for start-up businesses,” he said.

Two Deaf Youth Ambassadors – a male and a female – were chosen, and will work with NAD to address a social issue within the deaf community. They will also represent NAD at presentations, workshops, the Youth Leadership Camp and other events in the community.

Elena Maer, of St. Louis, Mo., was selected female Deaf Youth Ambassador. Two other contestants were RIT/NTID students: Allison Friedman, an applied liberal arts major from Wheeling, Ill., and Keith Delk, a new media design major from Beach Park, Ill. Established by Congress nearly 50 years ago, NTID provides unparalleled support services for more than 1,250 deaf and hard-of-hearing students annually, with tutors, notetakers and more than 120 interpreters who support students in and out of the classroom.

Hait-Campbell said he wants to use the experience he’s gained in starting a business to help other fledgling companies started by deaf entrepreneurs.

“I entered the contest because there are very few deaf-run businesses out there and there are some amazing contests all over,” he said. “However, the problem I’ve noticed is that after those contests are over, the teams don’t really have any idea what to do next.”

Hait-Campbell, a new media design major from Seattle, Wash., helped form MotionSavvy, which uses new technology that may convert hand shapes into text. He won third place in the Next Big Idea competition at NTID in 2013, along with his MotionSavvy teammates Alex Opalka, a computer engineering major from Glastonbury, Conn.; Wade Kellard, a mechanical engineering technology major from Cincinnati, Ohio; and Jordan Stemper, an industrial design major from Waukesha, Wisc.

Last summer, the team was accepted into RIT’s Summer Start-Up course for new businesses at RIT’s Saunders College of Business. And they’ve spent the past few months in San Francisco in Leap Motion’s LEAP AXLR8R.  Leap technology is used in their concept that may translate sign language into text by reading hand shapes. The team is considering returning to Rochester as their technology grows.

Hait-Campbell said he originally attended the NAD convention to promote MotionSavvy. “But everyone there already knew about us and I didn’t see a point in presenting about it, so I aimed to make us more active in the deaf community by becoming one of the leaders and pitch about the process of how I’m just a graphic designer, but now I’m also running a business. But I could never have done it on my own. It’s because of Saunders Start-up and the accelerator program that I am here. I am forever thankful to RIT for giving me this opportunity to change the world.” 

MotionSavvy: The Next Big Idea

When a team of four students won third place in NTID’s The Next Big Idea innovation competition in spring 2013, they felt they had created something special. The team, known as MotionSavvy, had developed an application that would enable a tablet or other device to translate sign language into audible words and sentences, allowing deaf and hearing people to communicate much more easily and quickly.

Last summer the students, Ryan Hait-Campbell, a new media design major from Seattle; Alex Opalka, a computer engineering major from Glastonbury, Connecticut; Wade Kellard, a mechanical engineering technology major from Cincinnati, Ohio; and Jorden Stemper, an industrial design major from Waukesha, Wisconsin, were accepted into RIT’s Summer Start-Up course for new businesses at RIT’s Saunders College of Business and the Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The team is now in San Francisco working with Leap Motion, Inc. a company that manufactures and markets a computer hardware sensor device that supports hand and finger motions as input, like a mouse, but requiring no hand contact or touching. Leap Motion’s LEAP AXLR8R provides the technical support the MotionSavvy team needs to further their work on technology that will benefit deaf and hearing people. Quickly making the leap from college students to business people, the team now has created a tablet app and is seeking investors and grants for more research and development. More

Financial Aid Information — related to FAFSA and VR

If you haven’t yet completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid for 2014-2015 and want to apply for financial aid, please go to www.fafsa.ed.gov, complete the FAFSA form and submit it as soon as possible.  

Please remind your student to send spring grades AND fall schedule to his or her VR counselor if your student is receiving VR support. This is important to do even if your student is on a waiting list for financial support.

It’s also important for your student to:

  • Visit his or her VR counselor and get an updated Individual Plan of Employment or have VR email your student the information about how much funding he or she will receive toward educational expenses for next year.
  • Send that information to Barbara Polle at blpnod@rit.edu or FAX it to 585-475-7850. If your student can’t email or fax, be sure to have him or her bring that information to campus in the fall and give it to Barb Polle, LBJ, Building 60, Room 2625.

Two RIT/NTID Students Interviewed by Local TV Station About New Text 911 Service

Verizon, Sprint, AT & T and T-Mobile now offer Text 911 service so that people who may not be able to make a voice call can get the emergency help they need. By years’ end all other carriers will be on board.

The two students interviewed, Christopher Fenn and Jonathan Pons, have a vested interest in this technology. In RIT/NTID’s The Next Big Idea innovation competition earlier this month, they took third place for “Silent 911”, an app that would enable contact with fire, police or emergency dispatchers with the touch of a button on a smartphone. The message for help would be received instantly along with pre-programmed personal information.