Category Archives: Success Stories

RIT/NTID Student Changes Statewide Testing, Earns National Girl Scout Award

A second-year RIT/NTID student is receiving national recognition this week as one of 10 Girl Scout USA 2014 Young Women of Distinction at a national convention in Salt Lake City.

Anna Krauss of Manorville, N.Y., has been a Girl Scout since age 5, when she joined as a Daisy Scout. Now that she is in college, she’s an Ambassador Scout and majoring in biotechnology and molecular bioscience. She regularly makes the Dean’s List at RIT.

Born deaf in one ear, Krauss lost her hearing in her other ear at age 9. Since then, she has relied on a sign language interpreter in her school classes.

In 2011, two years before she’d graduate from high school, Krauss was taking state-required tests. A portion of the test was a listening passage, given orally. Being profoundly deaf, Krauss had to rely on her interpreter to help her understand what the teacher was saying.

“I always dreaded the state tests for their listening portions,” she said. “Sometimes things get lost in translation,” Krauss said. She ended up with a test score of 80. “I started to cry if I got below a 90 in school,” she said. “It was ridiculous.”

For her Gold Award project, similar to the projects Boy Scouts must complete to become Eagle Scouts, Krauss decided to try to change the way those mandated listening portions of state tests are given to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in New York.

“I picked that because I felt very strongly about it,” she said. Krauss started lobbying state officials and as a result, the state now allows deaf and hard-of-hearing students across the state to use a written transcript during oral portions of examinations.

“It took three years for me to fight for that accommodation,” she said.

She doesn’t plan to attend the Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City because she doesn’t want to miss any classes. This summer, she traveled to the Girl Scouts of USA headquarters in New York City and met Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the Girls Scouts of the USA. Chavez presented Krauss with a $5,000 check that came with her award, which Krauss will use for college.

After college, she’s considering becoming a researcher or a science teacher, perhaps at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

But Krauss hopes to stay connected with the Girl Scouts as an alumnus so they can continue to empower girls like her. “I do want to continue in some way, to talk with younger troops to tell them how much they can do by staying with Girl Scouts and going all the way,” Krauss said. “It starts with cookie sales and ends with changing 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

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.

NTID Opens Doors to Employment

Calvin Young expects to graduate in May with his bachelor’s degree in new media marketing. But unlike many new college graduates, he’s already working full time even before he’s donned his cap and gown.

His door to employment opened three years ago during one of his co-ops with ZVRS, a video relay company based in Clearwater, Fla.

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