NTID’s Antiracism and Social Justice Plan

Read background information on this plan

RIT and NTID are engaged in meaningful conversations and actions to identify and eradicate structural and systemic racism and enhance diversity and inclusion in our campus community in measurable ways. RIT and NTID are committed to ensuring a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant, and accessible environment for everyone.

The greater university is working on an Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, and NTID will be a full participant in that plan. In addition, NTID is taking the steps outlined below. The plan outlined here aligns with the dimensions of RIT’s Strategic Plan 2025 that call for continuing to diversify our student population and improve graduation rates across all demographics as well as continuing to diversify our faculty and administration.

The goals and action steps in this plan build on NTID’s response to recommendations made by the Ebony Club in 2015 and on NTID’s response to recommendations made by the NTID Alumni Association Board in July 2020. We are grateful to those organizations and all of the individuals and groups who have shared their concerns, ideas, feedback, and support as we have developed this plan. NTID has received feedback from students, faculty and staff—individually and through NTID governance groups and organizations, including NTID Faculty Congress, NTID Staff Senate, the NTID Diversity Group, the NTID Alumni Association Board, the NTID Foundation Board, and the NTID National Advisory Group.

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    As president of NTID, Gerry Buckley has overall responsibility and accountability for this plan and has affirmed his commitment to ensuring the successful implementation of the plan and achievement of the identified goals. Alesia Allen, NTID’s assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion, will have responsibility for day-to-day oversight of the plan, assisted and supported by members of the NTID Diversity and Inclusion Executive Team, members of NTID’s Administrative Council, and those individuals who will have lead responsibility for specific action steps in the plan.

    It’s important to emphasize that this work requires the ongoing commitment and support of everyone in the RIT/NTID community. We all want RIT and NTID to be better, stronger, and more welcoming of all people. Together, we will make meaningful and lasting change.

      We also want to make clear that this plan is and will continue to be a work in progress. We will update and refine it based on feedback from the community as we move forward. As specific details and activities associated with each action step in the plan are identified and developed, we will allocate necessary resources, and we will monitor and report to the community on progress and make adjustments as needed.

      We also want to make clear that this plan is and will continue to be a work in progress. We will update and refine it based on feedback from the community as we move forward. As specific details and activities associated with each action step in the plan are identified and developed, we will allocate necessary resources, and we will monitor and report to the community on progress and make adjustments as needed.


      In this plan, we primarily use the acronym ALANA, which refers to individuals who identify as African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American, and Native American. NTID representation of individuals who identify as Asian American in our faculty and staff lags behind the greater university, and therefore is an area in need of improvement for NTID. We recognize that BIPOC is rapidly becoming an accepted acronym. BIPOC includes individuals who are members of the same groups as those included in the acronym ALANA while emphasizing the uniqueness of the Black and Indigenous experience in the Western Hemisphere. We acknowledge that none of the terminology is perfect or universally agreed upon.

      Supporting ALANA faculty and staff success through increasing ALANA representation of faculty, staff, and administration to 20%

      NTID ALANA faculty, staff, and administration representation as of September 2020 is 15%. We believe the action steps listed below, which focus on both recruitment and retention, will enable us to achieve the goal of 20% representation by 2025. Ideally, we will exceed this goal, and we want to make clear that our desire is to continue to increase the goal over time.

      1. Increase ALANA representation at all levels of administration at the college, including senior leadership and department heads, supervisors, and budget administrators. Pathways and mentoring will be established to support this effort via collaborative planning with the RIT Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the RIT Department of Human Resources.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz and NTID Administrative Council
      Timing: July 2021 establish benchmarks for representation

      2. Fill the ALANA faculty recruitment and retention position within the NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen
      Timing: Completed fall 2020

      Dr. Joseph Hill has been named assistant dean for ALANA faculty recruitment and retention. He works closely with Dr. Alesia Allen, NTID assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion, to diversify NTID’s faculty, with special emphasis on recruiting individuals who identify as BIPOC. He participates in the search process for faculty candidates and works with search committee chairs to increase diversity in candidate pools. He also leads initiatives to support the retention and success of ALANA faculty members at NTID. As part of his new role, which is a three-year appointment, Hill is a member of NTID’s Administrative Council.

      3. Increase NTID Faculty Program for Academia (NFPA) positions from three to six with a minimum of three of the six positions reserved for ALANA faculty members. This program focuses both on recruitment and retention of ALANA faculty members.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen and Gary Behm
      Timing: Fall 2021

      We have expanded the number of fellowships in the NTID Faculty Program for Academia to six. We also have developed a new organizational structure and recruitment and application process, and development of a professional development series is underway.

      4. Intensify the NTID Diversity and Inclusion Office’s efforts to develop a network of contacts of underrepresented individuals to pursue for faculty, staff, and administration positions. This effort builds on the work of RIT’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion to advance recruitment of diverse faculty. We will closely monitor progress of and outcomes from this effort.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen and Joseph Hill
      Timing: Ongoing with Spring 2021 progress report

      The NTID Diversity and Inclusion Executive Committee has identified key ALANA NTID faculty and staff who will assist with development of this network of contacts to enhance recruitment of underrepresented individuals for faculty, staff, and administration positions at NTID.

      Create a position within the NTID Diversity and Inclusion Office to support ALANA staff recruitment efforts throughout the NTID organization.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen
      Timing: Spring 2021

      A draft job description for a staff recruitment and retention position has been developed and is being reviewed by Human Resources and the RIT Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The position will be posted soon. A job has been posted and applications are being accepted for another new position—a full-time marketing communications specialist position to support the NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

      6. Continue the retention strategy of ongoing work with the RIT Department of Human Resources to develop additional career ladders for more staff positions to create clear pathways for staff members, including ALANA staff, to advance. 

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz
      Timing: Spring 2021 progress report

      NTID will establish an advisory committee that includes ALANA staff members to provide feedback to Human Resources on areas where career ladders and advancement pathways should be added or strengthened.

      7. Increase Randleman Program participants from three to five along with expansion of summer outreach efforts to ALANA interpreters, both in person and virtually. This program focuses on both recruitment and retention of ALANA interpreters.

      Responsible: Rico Peterson and Kristi Love Cooper
      Timing: Spring 2021

      NTID’s Randleman Program is kicking off the Randleman Summer Intensive Program for Interpreters of Color. The program is designed for interpreting students in their senior year of an interpreter training program and for interpreters with up to five years of experience.

      Update 1: An update on expansion and endowment of the Randleman Program will be posted in April 2021.

      8. Enhance retention of ALANA faculty and staff by working with RIT to address the issue of Minority Tax to ensure ALANA faculty and staff receive support and recognition for doing this additional work.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz, Gary Behm, and Alesia Allen
      Timing: Spring 2021 progress report

      NTID has hosted one presentation on minority tax in 2021, and we are exploring possible implementation of the Search Advocate Program to minimize the burden on ALANA faculty and staff serving on search committees. We also are seeking guidance from members of our National Advisory Group for addressing this issue.  

      9. Continue retention strategy of providing financial support to NTID lecturers pursuing terminal degrees, including ALANA lecturers, who are interested in moving towards tenure track positions within the college.

      Responsible: Gary Behm
      Timing: Ongoing

      This support remains available to all lecturers for pursuing credentials necessary for tenure track positions.

      10. Work in consultation with the RIT Human Resources Department to review hiring process and practices and ensure that progress towards the 2025 ALANA faculty, staff, and administration goals are being made. Reaffirm importance of NTID faculty and staff applicants’ commitment to serving a diverse student community in the hiring process.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz and Alesia Allen
      Timing: Spring 2021 progress report on review of processes

      We are currently working with HR on this. We will need to increase our ALANA hiring by 1% each year to achieve our 20% goal in 2025. The NAC will use a summer retreat to review progress made during this academic year and establish targets for AY 21/22.

      11. Explore expanded partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). These partnerships will be facilitated through visits conducted by the person in the ALANA faculty recruitment and retention position within the NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the purpose of establishing relationships that will enable NTID to successfully recruit future faculty, staff, and administration from these campuses with an emphasis on hiring individuals who have sign language skills.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen and Joseph Hill
      Timing: Develop plan for expansion of efforts by January 2022

      Work on this action step will accelerate when travel is permitted again.

      NTID will provide funding to stimulate faculty and student research into social justice issues within the deaf and hard-of-hearing community with an emphasis on identifying ways to address systematic racism. The NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion, along with the Research Division of NTID, will establish a process for reviewing proposals, including identifying who will be responsible for proposal review. This will provide faculty scholars with an opportunity to mentor students who wish to pursue research interests in this area.

      Responsible: Bob Pollard, Peter Hauser, and Alesia Allen
      Timing: Establish plan and budget by Feb 2021; solicit proposals for AY 21-22 in Spring 2021

      On March 25, NTID announced that our college has established a $75,000 Antiracism Scholarship Fund as part of NTID’s Antiracism and Social Justice Plan. The fund is a joint effort between the NTID President’s Office and NTID’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The fund will support up to five projects focused on antiracism research/scholarship or antiracism-related instruction. Proposals are due May 14, and funding will begin in August 2021. For more information, contact Peter Hauser.

      We have submitted a grant proposal for an Antiracism Research and Development Fund.

      NTID will continue to seek guidance, support and partnerships with national organizations representing the ALANA deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen
      Timing: Ongoing

      This work is ongoing.

      Work with the RIT Department of Human Resources to develop a process for including the NTID assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion in voluntary/optional exit interviews with ALANA faculty and staff members who resign with the goal of compiling data to identify issues that have a negative impact on retention of ALANA faculty and staff.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz
      Timing: Spring 2021

      Supporting ALANA student success through increasing persistence and graduation rates

      Action Steps

      1. Periodically conduct a scientifically based review of standardized tests used for admissions and placement decisions regarding NTID-supported students; recommend changes in test selection, usage, practice, and/or policy in light of any findings of bias based on ethnicity, preferred language, socioeconomic status, or other consumer characteristics that detract from tests’ reliability and validity, including face validity.

      Responsible: Bob Pollard, Katie Schmitz, Peter Hauser, and Tommie Sarchet
      Timing: Develop schedule for periodic review by March 2021

      RIT and NTID are no longer requiring SAT or ACT tests for admission.

      2. Create and implement academic access and success pathways that engage ALANA students and their families, beginning in middle school and continued engagement through their degree programs at RIT/NTID. This will include ALANA students participating in at least one intensive summer or academic year outreach activity offered through the NTID Regional STEM Center at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and at NTID. See additional summary information on our transition programming that was initiated in 2019.

      Responsible: Tommie Sarchet and Denise Kavin
      Timing: Develop model plan for implementation Spring 2021

      NTID partnered with CSD Learns to provide The STEM Explorers Virtual Classroom, designed to support deaf and hard-of-hearing ALANA students interested in learning about STEM fields. The program ran May 6-June 1, 2021, and it gave 23 middle-school students from 12 schools across four states free laptops and mobile hotspots to ensure they had full access to the program. Participants connected with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students online, learned from successful deaf and hard-of-hearing role models with careers in STEM fields, built STEM skills through fun activity boxes at home, and worked on envisioning their own path to a career in STEM.

      3. Create culturally responsive first-year academic programming (e.g. STP, SVP, Freshman Seminar, and Career Exploration Studies) that provides skills and strategies to improve student persistence.

      Responsible: Gary Behm, Tommie Sarchet, and Mary Karol Matchett
      Timing: Develop plan for first-year students Spring 2021 with implementation AY 21-22

      4. Evaluate and revise existing coursework to promote culturally sustaining pedagogy and antiracism across the disciplines.

      Responsible: Gary Behm, Katie Schmitz, and Tommie Sarchet
      Timing: Spring/summer 2021

      5. Work with RIT to implement requirement that all incoming NTID students participate in an antiracism program as part of first year experience.

      Responsible: Gary Behm and Mary Karol Matchett
      Timing: Fall 2021 

      We have added antiracism-focused material to the curriculum for Freshman Seminar for fall 2021, in addition to diversity and inclusion curriculum-related efforts already in progress. Also, all Freshman Seminar instructors will take antiracism workshops over the next five months before the fall semester begins to ensure they are adequately trained in the work to host dialogue and activities during class. Taj Smith, RIT director of diversity and inclusion education, will host a workshop to familiarize staff with the framework to be used in the curriculum.

      6. Update curricula to include courses related to antiracism and social justice for NTID students at all degree levels. Courses may be classified in one of the general education perspectives so they satisfy degree graduation requirements. Explore establishing a certificate program in the area of equity and social justice. Provide support to ALANA faculty and staff to lead and teach in these efforts.

      Responsible: Gary Behm and Matt Lynn
      Timing: AY 21-22

      7. Expand NTID’s dual-enrollment program (Project Fast Forward) in partnership with high schools that serve ALANA communities.

      Responsible: Katie Schmitz and Tommie Sarchet
      Timing: Expand efforts for AY 21-22

      The pandemic has slowed participation by schools in this program, but we have updated the Project Fast Forward website and developed a brochure and other communications for use in recruiting more schools. NTID has established a Project Fast Forward grant to support high schools that serve predominantly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students. The funds from this grant can be used for textbooks, software, and hardware directly related to the dual-credit courses offered by RIT/NTID. Up to $5,000 is available per school per semester.

      8. Establish MSSE scholarships for 5-10 students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or who have a strong record of inclusion and helping others scale barriers, in order to help address the critical national shortage of ALANA teachers in deaf education, particularly in STEM fields. Schools for the deaf nationally report ALANA teacher representation rates of 4%. MSSE will expand online, outreach, and summer programming to serve and support non-traditional (e.g. adult) students.

      Responsible: Bill McGee, Scott Hooker, Gary Behm, and Patrick Graham
      Timing: Scholarships to be available for entering class Fall 2021

      NTID awarded four scholarships for the fall 2020 MSSE cohort. Additional scholarships will be awarded for fall 2021.

      9. Establish ASLIE scholarships for 5-10 interpreting students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or who have a strong record of inclusion and helping others scale barriers, in order to help address the critical national shortage of ALANA interpreters. Explore opportunities to start locally and link this in some way with RIT’s Rochester City Scholars program. Invest in additional mentoring and retention programs for ASLIE. Explore how NTID can serve and support non-traditional (e.g. adult) students in the ASLIE program.

      Responsible: Bill McGee, Scott Hooker, Gary Behm, and Keith Cagle
      Timing: Scholarships to be available for entering class Fall 2021

      We will finalize scholarship eligibility in April 2021 and make the first scholarship awards in fall 2021.

      10. Establish a mentoring program that engages alumni to provide career guidance to students. The NTIDAA, NAG and Foundation Board leaders all have offered to support this effort, and we will pilot the program with 25-30 mentors. Priority for this mentoring initiative will be ALANA students. Specific details of the program will be shared by March 2021.

      Responsible: Loriann Macko, Bryan Hensel, and Alesia Allen
      Timing: Announce details March 2021

      NTID’s pilot mentoring program is up and running with six ALANA mentors and six ALANA student mentees. We hope to expand this program in the future.

      We have developed a proposal for a pilot mentoring program and posted a vlog to recruit students for the pilot cohort. We have identified 15 alumni of various backgrounds who have expressed interest in or been recommended to be part of this effort.

      11. Work with the RIT committee established in October 2020 to identify strategies for enhancing ALANA student retention and success. Recommendations submitted to this group include a review of numerous student-related services. 

      Responsible: Mary Karol Matchett, Alesia Allen, and Gary Behm
      Timing: Committee is expected to complete plans for RIT in Spring 2021

      Development of the RIT plan is still in progress.

      12. NTID will work with RIT to review the level of mental health support for ALANA students. Concerns about the ability of current resources to meet growing demands have been raised and will be examined. NTID is prepared to make additional investments as needed in this area following review with RIT.

      Responsible: Mary Karol Matchett, Bob Pollard, and Alesia Allen
      Timing: Ongoing

      With regard to mental health support for ALANA students, we have implemented the following programs and initiatives:

      • Students in Distress: Interventions and Campus Resources-Mental Health
      • Black Mental Health Matters Discussion with CaPS therapists
      • Positive Self-affirmations for when Black bodies forget that they matter
      • BIPOC + Deaf/HoH: Self-care tips
      • Black Lives Matter in Group Therapy Too
      • Creating a Self-Care Playlist-Black Minds Matter
      • Talking to Family About Mental Health
      • Affirmations at the Intersection
      • Real Talk Special Edition: Let’s talk Mental Health

      RIT/NTID community education and training to support ALANA community

      Action Steps

      1. Working with the RIT Division of Diversity and Inclusion, identify specific diversity and anti-bias training that will be required for all faculty, staff, and administrators at NTID to complete as part of their professional development plan. This training requirement will be a part of all NTID faculty, staff, and administration plans of work with accountability for all faculty, staff and administrators to participate. Continue to encourage individual interaction with diverse groups to enhance knowledge and sensitivity.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz, Alesia Allen, and Hope Williams
      Timing: Ongoing

      As part of our on-going efforts to provide training for faculty and staff, on April 9, NTID’s Office of the Associate Dean of Research hosted a virtual workshop by Dr. Lissa D. Ramirez-Stapleton, of California State University Northridge titled “You’re Not Neutral: Embracing Race Conscious Research Practices. This interactive workshop provided a space to reflect on the impact of race neutral research practices and the ways in which racism and cultural erasure negatively impact the good work researchers are trying to do.

      NTID faculty, staff, and administrators have participated in a variety of training sessions:  

      • NAC members participated in anti-bias training
      • NAC members and many NTID faculty and staff participated in the 21 Day Race and Equity Challenge program
      • Dr. Alesia Allen and Rachel Green presented parts one and two of a multipart 21 Day Challenge Reflection series. Part three is scheduled for March 19.

      2. Continue working with RIT and Public Safety to provide enhanced training on working effectively with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing ALANA members of the RIT/NTID community. In addition, because law enforcement is often called to scenes that involve mental and/or emotional health issues for which they may not be adequately trained, we will review the support already provided from Student Affairs for such calls and consider necessary modifications to ensure that Public Safety is properly trained in de-escalation strategies. Work with RIT and Public Safety to ensure rapid investigation and response to any reports of bias on the part of Public Safety.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz and Alesia Allen
      Timing: Spring 2021 progress report

      3. Re-engage NTID community in use of “Safe Space.” This space, located in Peterson Hall – Room A145, was created in 2017 and is ready to be used. Per the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee recommendation, use one room as a resource library; the other rooms can be used for meetings and informal discussions. NTID also will work with the RIT Division of Diversity and Inclusion regarding how to best maximize collaboration and cooperation between the university’s MOSAIC Center and the NTID Safe Space. 

      Responsible: Alesia Allen, Erwin Smith, and Bernie Hurwitz
      Timing: Spring 2021 progress report

      4. As RIT pursues future climate surveys, focus on increasing participation by developing survey instruments that are language-accessible to our deaf and hard-of-hearing population at all levels, and on increasing the quality of the resulting data by providing opportunities for qualitative feedback and constructing accessible narratives to explain the data. Provide transparency through sharing of future survey results. Explore ways to ensure anonymity for people in departments with small numbers.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz, Tommie Sarchet, and Peter Hauser
      Timing: Spring 2021 progress report following review of RIT plans for campus survey

      RIT is planning a climate survey, and we are working with RIT to ensure the survey is available in both English and ASL.

      5. Seek specific opportunities, in partnership with RIT’s Diversity and Inclusion Division, to be directly engaged in Rochester area efforts to address racism. The current project with the Urban League is one example. NTID also will encourage RIT to explore collaboration on initiatives related to social justice with other local and regional postsecondary institutions. See more examples of possible collaborations.

      Responsible: Alesia Allen, Thomas Warfield
      Timing: Ongoing

      RIT/NTID has announced a working partnership with Garth Fagan Dance for a “cooperative-creative-connection” that will begin August 1, 2021. The partnership will allow collaboration for mutual projects, including social justice outreach—exploring the use of dance and the performing arts as tools in examining issues surrounding social justice—and community outreach—increasing the access to dance and the performing arts for students in the Rochester City School District. Now in its 50th year, Garth Fagan Dance is an internationally acclaimed contemporary American dance company based in downtown Rochester. Its founder, Garth Fagan, 80, may be best known for his Tony and Olivier award-winning choreography for Disney’s “The Lion King.”

      6. RIT has committed to upgrading its bias reporting system as announced in July 2020 by President Munson. These reports are sent to Dr. Keith Jenkins, vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, for faculty/staff and Dr. Sandy Johnson, senior vice president of student affairs, for students. Drs. Jenkins and Johnson are responsible for determining appropriate follow-up actions. NTID will work to educate the community about the reporting system and the safeguards that are included in it to ensure that people feel comfortable reporting issues and incidents.

      Responsible: Bernie Hurwitz and Mary Karol Matchett
      Timing: Ongoing

      RIT’s updated bias reporting system is operational. We are planning a segment in Brick City News to educate students on use of the bias reporting system.

      7. NTID’s Dyer Arts Center is setting up an ALANA advisory group and is applying for grant funding to implement a pilot residency program that will bring ALANA artists to the Dyer Arts Center. The center also is developing a plan to convert one gallery into a permanent space to showcase works by ALANA Deaf artists. NTID is seeking funding for this permanent gallery space.

      Responsible: Tabitha Jacques and Bryan Hensel
      Timing: Summer/fall 2021 progress report

      Recent Dyer Arts Center activities/programs include publishing two Black is Black: BlackityAF exhibitions and have two more planned for September 2021, facilitated discussions about Black Deaf Arts in five different forums, hosted a virtual collage workshop led by Takiyah Harris.