Deaf Health Care and
Biomedical Science Hub


The Deaf Hub was established in 2022 to promote representation of deaf and hard-of-hearing* individuals in healthcare and biomedical science careers. The Deaf Hub supports pathways to healthcare careers, creates a network for deaf scientists, and conducts research related to the deaf community and their health.

Two icons shows intertwined – a heart with a pulse line and a beaker with a plus sign

In 2012, the Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community, a partnership between RIT/NTID, Gallaudet University, University of Rochester Medical Center, and Rochester Regional Health wrote in the final report this vision, which we carry forth today:

"By 2022, it is our vision that Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (D/HH) individuals across the country will have levels of access to education, employment, and career advancement in a variety of health care occupations that match their skills and aspirations. Access will be fueled by improvements in health care-related educational and employment opportunities for D/HH individuals, employer awareness programs regarding the benefits of hiring and supporting D/HH employees, and the widespread use of innovative access technologies."

This partnership, known as the Deaf Hub, began with an emphasis on biomedical science careers with programming that is funded by NIH’s National Institute for General Medical Sciences. The Deaf Hub is currently expanding to provide training, advocacy, and mentorship opportunities in clinical and practicing careers in health care.

*Also inclusive to DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and Late Deafened individuals who may use sign language and accommodations such as interpreting; and to those with all degrees of hearing loss that may prefer to use spoken English, residual hearing and/or assistive listening devices, and accommodations such as loops and captioning. Any person with hearing loss, regardless of identity or communication preferences, is included.

Goals and Objectives
The Deaf Hub aims to improve the healthcare training experience through mentoring students and professionals, to increase universal access in the health system by working with the community of health professionals, and to strive for better health of deaf and hard-of-hearing people informed by research. The Deaf Hub works towards the long-term goal of increasing the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people entering health care and biomedical science careers.

The Deaf Hub achieves its goals in six categories by:

  1. Mentoring deaf and hard-of-hearing students interested in a career in health care or biomedical science.
  2. Supporting the continued success of existing biomedical and healthcare conferences for deaf and hard-of-hearing trainees and professionals.
  3. Providing professional development and training opportunities for healthcare professionals.
  4. Improving the health care and biomedical knowledge and sign language skills of American Sign Language interpreters.
  5. Developing health systems employers' awareness of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals as qualified for a career in health care and biomedical science, including how they can be hired and successfully integrated into the healthcare workforce.
  6. Supporting the dissemination of accessible content to help healthcare professionals work efficiently with their deaf and hard-of-hearing patients

Deaf Hub Team Members

Tiffany Panko
Executive Director

Deaf Health Laboratory Director

Krystal Starks
Senior Staff Assistant
Kat Womack
RIT RISE and Health Commission Program Interpreter

Biomedical Science Training Programs Interpreter

Krystina Ho
Marketing Communications Specialist
Jenna Stewardson
Research Program Coordinator
Aaron Parker
Software Engineer
Dyl Levenson
Biomedical Science Training Grants Admin

XR Accessibility Solutions Laboratory Director

Director of Healthcare Mentoring

Camille Ouellette
Senior Lecturer

Deaf Hub Affiliate

Jeni Rodrigues
Assistant Professor

Deaf Hub Affiliate

Mariam Paracha
Visiting Assistant Professor

Deaf Hub Affiliate

LeeAnne Valentine
Adjunct Faculty

Chair of the Community Board

Professional Development and Training Programs

Mentor Supported Shadowing Program (MSSP)
Shadowing is an essential part of the pre-med curriculum but deaf and hard-of-hearing students may face barriers in a limited network. Finding healthcare professionals to shadow and accessing communication during shadowing experiences supports students in figuring out the best career fit. In this program, deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT get mentoring support with a team of experts, shadowing opportunities with healthcare professionals, and an accessible experience with real connections. The aim of this program is to increase the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who go on to work in health care, which in turn increases accessibility and quality care for deaf individuals. More information can be found on the MSSP web page.

In addition, we are always available for mentoring, guidance, and helping RIT/NTID deaf or hard-of-hearing students identify shadowing opportunities. Contact us if you are interested in learning more and exploring various healthcare career options.

Recent Results of MSSP: AMPHL Conference Attendance
In 2022, 14 students were selected to attend the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL) Conference. This provides students with the opportunity to meet deaf and hard of hearing professionals in fields they are interested in pursuing. Click here to view a video about the student reflections from the AMPHL Conference 2022.

All RIT/NTID Students: Summer Healthcare Academic Research Program (SHARP)
The Deaf Hub does research on healthcare access, knowledge, and outcomes of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. SHARP allows RIT/NTID students to get research or co-op credit working with the Deaf Hub over the summer. This position is ideal for students who would like to gain experience working in a research center focusing on a multitude of projects such as health literacy, healthcare access, reproductive health, and access technologies. Students will also gain experience working in an inclusive environment with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people using ASL as the primary language in the Deaf Hub. If you are interested in learning more about the past SHARP trainees and their experience, please check out the SHARP video on our Youtube channel.

SHARP Novice Interpreting Program
The SHARP Novice Interpreting Program offers new interpreters an opportunity to gain experience working with Deaf Hub faculty and staff, and SHARP research assistants. This position is ideal for recent graduates who would like experience working in a research center where ASL is the primary language, with research in diverse areas such as health literacy, Deaf women’s pregnancy outcomes, accessibility and technology, and supporting Deaf scientists. Novice interpreters will have opportunities for supervised interpreting, observations, professional skill development, networking, and mentorship. Novice interpreters will interpret and observe small and large group meetings, presentations, and other Deaf Hub activities. Novice interpreters are also expected to engage in some research activities, either with Deaf Hub projects (outside of their interpreting duties) or in supported independent study. If you are interested to see our past SHARP novice interpreters and their experience at ABRCMS 2023, please see below.

ABRCMS 2023 Attendance
In 2023, five students presented their posters during the Undergraduate Research Symposium and became eligible to attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) at Phoenix, Arizona. Learn more about their experience at ABRCMS 2023.

RIT/NTID Undergraduate Students: Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (U-RISE)
RIT U-RISE is an NIH-funded training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate bachelor’s degree students (RIT-RISE Trainees) who want to go to graduate school to become PhD scientists in biomedical, biobehavioral, or clinical research fields. More information can be found on the Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (U-RISE) webpageLearn more about the U-RISE trainees and their reflections at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) 2023.

RIT/NTID Graduate Students: Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate (Bridges)
The Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate Program is the first of its kind that provides scientific mentoring for deaf and hard-of-hearing RIT/NTID graduate students to become a strong candidate for a doctoral degree program in biomedical or behavioral science disciplines. This program helps with tuition, provides mentor support, and offers wet lab research experiences. More information can be found on the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate (Bridges) webpageFind out more about Bridges trainees and their reflections at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) 2023.

Post-doctoral Students: Deaf Hub and Rochester Postdoc Partnership
The Deaf Hub aims to strengthen the health research and advocacy workforce to increase deaf and hard-of-hearing representation in health care and biomedical sciences. The Deaf Hub trains sign-fluent post-doctoral scholars with an advanced degree (PhD, DrPH, MD, PharmD, PsyD, or EdD) in Public Health, Psychology, Health Sciences, or related fields. This fellowship will include deaf health research and program administration training as well as training in mentoring young scholars. Find out more about this Postdoctoral Associate position and how to apply at this website.

The Rochester Postdoc Partnership (RPP) aims to develop a diverse group of highly trained biomedical scientists to address the Nation’s biomedical workforce needs. RPP trains deaf and hard-of-hearing post-doctoral scholars with a PhD in biomedical sciences. This fellowship includes mentored research and teaching experiences in a chosen biomedical science discipline to prepare scholars for an academic career in research and teaching. Find out more about the Rochester Postdoc Partnership and how to apply at this website.

Middle School/High School Students: NTID Outreach Programs
The RIT/NTID Outreach team works with the NTID Regional STEM Center and the Deaf Hub to coordinate middle and high school STEM programs. Our outreach team has years of experience with developing interactive camps and programs rooted in diversity, while connecting with students, parents, and educators. Learn more about NTID Outreach and our programs on the NTID Outreach webpage.

If you are a deaf or hard-of-hearing student entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grade and interested in exploring health care fields, be sure to check out the Health Care Careers Exploration Program webpage.

Our Research

The Deaf Hub uses research to better understand deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals’ experiences in health care, as well as develop solutions to the barriers deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, trainees, and professionals often face in healthcare settings.

Deaf Health Laboratory (DHL)
Tiffany Panko, MD, MBA, Lab director

The Deaf Health Laboratory promotes health justice through research and initiatives in health priority areas including but not limited to healthcare systemic barriers, health literacy, family planning, and preventive health.

XR Accessibility Solutions Laboratory (XR-ASL)
Wendy Dannels, Lab director

XR Accessibility Solutions Laboratory develops real-time, immersive, and interactive technologies such as mixed, augmented, and virtual reality with a focus on accessible and inclusive experiences

Healthcare Professional Database

Your support is integral for the success of the Mentor Supported Shadowing Program. Are you interested in joining Deaf Hub? Sign up below!

Professional and personal growth opportunities include:
  • Gain new and unique perspectives that you can apply during interactions with patients and colleagues
  • Pass along your knowledge and expertise in becoming a healthcare professional
  • Contribute to the success and inspiration of deaf and hard-of-hearing students pursuing careers in health care

Thank you in advance for your consideration in supporting future healthcare professionals! 

Careers and other postings

Are you interested in shadowing healthcare professionals? 

Apply for MSSP!

A student scholarship is now available that gives you an opportunity to attend the Association of Medical Professionals for Hearing Loss (AMPHL) conference! Benefits include:

  • Networking Opportunities with AMPHL attendees
  • Conference registration is covered
  • Travel, lodging, and meals are included

 Submit the application by Feb. 16 or email us for more information.

Learn more and fill out the AMPHL application

Newsletter Sign-up

Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in the Deaf Hub.

If you are interested in collaborating with us on research, exploring a partnership, or have specific questions, please email us at