Category Archives: Faculty

RIT/NTID associate professor earns service award from Visions Global Empowerment

Catherine Clark with many young Ethiopian children smiling and signing

Catherine Clark, associate professor, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology, was honored for her “Outstanding Dedication to Service” by Visions Global Empowerment during its annual awards ceremony in April.

Clark, who has worked at NTID for 30 years and is also an audiologist and cochlear implant specialist, was recognized for her volunteer work with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. During several visits to Ethiopia between 2014 and 2016, Clark administered hearing tests—the first for most in that area—and collaborated with a regional center that provides tutoring and preschool services to deaf children. In addition to hiring deaf teachers, the center established classes for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners; distributed sign-language dictionaries; taught Ethiopian Sign Language to deaf and hard-of-hearing children, adults, families, teachers, school administrators, university students and doctors; and developed a deaf entrepreneurship program. The staff invited Clark to establish an audiological assessment and intervention center to complement their educational efforts.

During a 2015 trip to the region, Clark consulted for a program that conducts community screenings, assessments and public education programs, and created a clinical audiology manual. She also helped with teaching parents about hearing-aid use and maintenance for their children. Since 2014, 111 individuals have received audiology services, 48 individuals have received hearing aids and 130 individuals have been examined by Ethiopian ear, nose and throat specialists. According to Clark, the Ethiopian deaf and hard-of-hearing community also served as audiology assistants.

“Many years ago, I mentioned to someone that one of my personal and professional goals was to open up a clinic for deaf and hard-of-hearing people of color,” said Clark. “Little did I know that I would end up doing this for the people in Ethiopia. Volunteering is a new piece of the puzzle for me, and the community in Bahir Dar is so appreciative of those who volunteer. It’s nice to go back every few months and bring a skill that I was trained to do in the form of audiology testing and directly impacting the deaf and hard-of-hearing community there. I really can’t wait to go back to Bahir Dar to see the kids and bond with the deaf adult community. There are similarities between American Sign Language and Ethiopian Sign Language. As a result, we have a language in which we can all understand each other.”

Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean, added: “I, along with the NTID community, admire Catherine for her dedication to improving the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Ethiopia, and we are all grateful for the amazing and impactful work that she does here on campus. We can all learn from her willingness to give of herself.”

Clark plans to return to Ethiopia this summer to continue her work.

Visions Global Empowerment is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to youth education and empowerment and changing patterns of inequality by supporting educational initiatives for youth affected by poverty, conflict and disability.

Princeton Review ranks RIT as a top video game design school

David Schwartz, director of RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media

Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the top schools in the world to study—and launch a career in—game design, according to new international rankings from The Princeton Review.

RIT’s game design and development program was ranked third at the undergraduate level and seventh at the graduate level for 2016. RIT ranked sixth at both levels in 2015. RIT’s program is housed in the School of Interactive Games and Media within the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. More.

RIT/NTID researchers study safety of electronic cigarette flavorings

RIT/NTID part of team studying effects of flavorings used in e-cigarettes.

RIT/NTID faculty and student researchers are developing methods to analyze the effects of flavorings used in electronic cigarettes. In partnership with RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the University of Rochester Medical Center, RIT/NTID, the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, is part of the team that has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the study. More.

Johnston named to RIT/NTID faculty

Lisa Johnston in white t-shirt.

Lisa Johnston has joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as a member of the American Sign Language & Interpreting Education Department.

Johnston holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Gallaudet University and a master’s degree in sign language studies from the University of Arizona, focusing on signed language and deaf studies, curriculum development and pedagogy, and American Sign Language. Her thesis focused on the process of acquiring ASL as a second language for teachers of deaf students in academic settings.

Her major academic interests are literature, Deaf culture, teaching ASL as a first and second language, linguistics of signed language, ASL assessment and diagnostics, curriculum development and pedagogy, and first and second language acquisition. She has taught courses in all levels of ASL, as well as “Narrative and Poetic Styles in ASL,” “Current Trends in Deaf-related Careers” and others.

She holds professional certification from the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA), and serves as an ASLTA evaluator. She is a former board member of Deaf Women of Rochester, served on ASLTA’s Greater Rochester chapter, and served on the education/training subcommittee of the National Center for Deaf Health Research at the University of Rochester.

Prior to joining the faculty, Johnston was a faculty member teaching American Sign Language at RIT, the University of Rochester, Gallaudet University, Riverside Community College in Riverside, California, and the University of Arizona, Tucson.

She enjoys travel and water-related activities. Her two children are being raised in combined Deaf, Greek, and American cultures.

RIT presidential spotlight: faculty achievement

RIT faculty make learning, research and innovation come alive

Excelling in teaching and in research, RIT faculty members are passionate about their disciplines and their roles, both in the classroom and the lab. They engage students in the process of discovery and the contribution of new knowledge to their fields. RIT faculty enjoy interacting with students, and they push the boundaries of both personal and professional potential, both for themselves and their students. Their commitment, drive and student-centered focus are hallmarks of this great university.

Hartman named to RIT/NTID faculty

laural hartman with curly hair wearing black and white print top with black sweater

Laural Hartman has joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf a lecturer in the Visual Communication Studies Department, teaching core courses such as Drawing and Principles of Design and Color. 

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area where she attended TRIPOD, Hartman graduated from RIT/NTID in 2005 with a BFA in Illustration and went on to earn a master’s degree in NTID’s Master of Science program in Secondary Education of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in 2007. Her husband, Jeff is a fellow RIT/NTID alumnus who works as a systems administrator for Convo Communications. They have a one-year-old son named Holden.

After graduating from RIT/NTID, Hartman moved to San Francisco where she bought an antique press and established her own letterpress shop, Dirty Beard Press. Prior to moving back to Rochester, she taught high school at The Learning Center for the Deaf (now Marie Philips School) in Framingham, Massachusetts.  She continues to run Dirty Beard Press on weekends.

Her custom work has been exhibited at The Berkeley Art Center, the Minna Gallery in San Francisco and the Delaplaine Gallery in Frederick, Maryland. 

“We are fortunate to have another talented member of our alumni community back on campus as part of the faculty,” said Dr. Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Laural brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our students and serves as a role model for them.”

 

Allen named to RIT/NTID faculty

Alesia Allen wearing glasses, white shirt and necklace

Alesia Nicole Allen has joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Liberal Studies.

Allen teaches introductory courses in Psychology and Abnormal Psychology.

A native of Ohio, Allen attended RIT/NTID and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2004. She earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Gallaudet University, and expects to defend her dissertation in 2016 and earn a Ph.D. from Gallaudet in Clinical Psychology.  

She is the recipient of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program Achievement Award, Officer Appreciation Award and Outstanding Advocacy Award presented by NTID’s Student Government for advocating the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing people on campus. She also was honored for her service to the Philadelphia community for providing services for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals with mental health concerns.

“In my opinion, teaching goes beyond the classroom and also consists of advising and mentoring,” Allen said. “This is critical because I believe effective teaching involves building rapport and being sensitive to students’ needs.  Another important responsibility involves scholarship and staying up to date with research trends in the field. Currently, I am working on completing my dissertation which focuses primarily on hard-of-hearing individuals and their overall psychological well-being. I encourage students to get involved in research and provide support to them in their efforts. Finally, there’s a service component of my job. Service initiatives may include getting involved on committees to help provide feedback on improving goals of the department, mentoring students, or getting involved in some efforts to help Rochester community.” 

“We are pleased to have Alesia back at RIT/NTID as a member of our faculty,” said Dr. Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “She is an outstanding example of all that is possible with an RIT/NTID education, and is a true role model for our students.”

 

RIT/NTID Professor Named White House ‘Champions of Change’ Honoree

close up photo of Talila Lewis wearing a bright blue shirt with hands folded and elbows on table

Talila A. Lewis, a faculty member in liberal studies at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, was one of nine disability advocates from across the United States selected as “Champions of Change” by the White House. A recognition event—which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act—was held in Washington, D.C., earlier this summer.

Lewis, an activist and attorney whose research primarily focuses on creating equal access to the legal system for individuals who are deaf and for people with disabilities, created the only national database of deaf prisoners and is one of the only people in the world working on deaf wrongful conviction cases. Lewis advocates with and for hundreds of deaf defendants, prisoners and returned citizens and trains justice, legal and corrections professionals about various disability related concerns. In addition, Lewis has been the force behind social justice campaigns including #DeafInPrison, Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice, and the American Civil Liberties Union’s “Know Your Deaf Rights” campaign. Lewis is also the founder and director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf, or HEARD, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that works to correct and prevent wrongful convictions of deaf people, end abuse of incarcerated people with disabilities, decrease recidivism rates for deaf returned citizens, and increase representation of the deaf in the justice, legal and corrections professions.

“I am so very humbled to be counted among disability justice advocates who are pushing us all to challenge the status quo,” said Lewis. “Endless gratitude to those who have supported this community-led effort and to those I serve who remind me daily, the power of community accountability, resilience and love-infused activism.”

According to the website, the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, go to www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching: Christopher Kurz

Providing experiential learning opportunities and establishing strong connections with his students are two contributors to Christopher Kurz’s success in the classroom. His triumphs are the result of thought-provoking and practical applications of his lessons and his ability to adapt his teaching style and philosophy to meet the changing needs of his diverse students.

Kurz, an associate professor in NTID’s secondary education of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing master’s program and a 1995 graduate of RIT’s applied mathematics program in the College of Science, is one of this year’s recipients of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching. Kurz helps develop the talents of his students who will soon re-enter classrooms around the world in a different capacity — as educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing secondary students.

“My inspiration comes from seeing my students improve their skills, grow, become professionals,” he said. “I have also learned to connect deeper with my students and learn more about where they come from, what they bring to the table. My students and I — we have a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Kurz is also known for making his lessons come alive. For several years, he has taught deaf history courses in which students examine artifacts like school diaries written by deaf students in the 19th century, war-era dollar bills that were published by a school for the deaf during wartime, and antiquated instructional materials to catch a glimpse into what life was like for deaf people over the past 400 years. He also enlists a technique called “Theatre in Education,” where actors dressed as Edward Gallaudet, Alexander Graham Bell and other famous pioneers in deaf history entertain and educate through debates designed to spark conversations about deaf life and issues in deaf education from decades past. Kurz’s students also develop partnerships and curricular and historical research projects alongside Rochester School for the Deaf that, accordingly to Kurz, is rich in local deaf history.

“I want to be a driving force in raising the bar for students in the field of deaf education,” he added. “I’m a product of deaf education, so it’s important for me to be a catalyst in educating and preparing the next generation of teachers of the deaf.”