NTID’s Antiracism and Social Justice Plan

Read background information on this plan

Equal opportunity is one of our country’s most cherished values, but events here in Rochester and in communities across our nation demonstrate that we have work to do to ensure equal access and opportunity for all. The racism and inequity that exist in our society cannot be ignored.

RIT and NTID are engaged in meaningful conversations and actions to reinforce Black Lives Matter and related efforts to identify and eradicate systemic bias. Our university and college leaders have pledged that the conversations must continue. RIT and NTID are committed to ensuring a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant and accessible environment for everyone.

We are working within the RIT/NTID community to develop plans for addressing structural and systemic racism and enhancing diversity and inclusion in measurable ways that will enable us to move forward progressively. Both RIT and NTID have been engaged in a variety of diversity-related initiatives and activities. While we are pleased with the work that has been done thus far, we recognize that there is more we must do.

The greater university is working on a number of initiatives to address racism and inequity and foster diversity and inclusion, and NTID will be a full participant in those initiatives. In addition, we are taking steps within NTID as outlined below.

Note that in this plan, we primarily use the acronyms AALANA and ALANA in order to be consistent with RIT’s Strategic Plan 2025. AALANA refers to individuals who identify as African American, Latinx, and Native American, while ALANA refers to individuals who identify as African American, Latinx, 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, however, 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. (See this link.)

NTID has gathered feedback on this plan 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. Students from NTID’s Ebony Club, Latin American Deaf Club, and Asian Deaf Club have asked for more time to provide their feedback on the plan, and we are expecting their feedback by October 15, 2020.

We are reviewing all of the feedback submitted to date and working to update the plan. Once we have the feedback from Ebony Club, Latin American Deaf Club, and Asian Deaf Club, we will make final updates and post the revised plan to this web page. We also will post information here regarding who will be responsible for leading implementation of each action item in the plan as well as timelines for each.

It’s important to note that this plan is and will continue to be a work in progress. We will continue to update and refine it based on feedback from the community as we move forward. This work requires on-going commitment and support from everyone as we continue to address racism and inequities on our campus and in our 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.

Here is an ASL translation of the plan.

ALANA faculty and staff success through increasing ALANA representation of both faculty and staff to 20%

Action Steps
  1. Fill the ALANA faculty recruitment and retention position within the NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
  2. 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.
  3. Intensify the NTID Diversity Office’s efforts to develop a network of contacts of underrepresented individuals to pursue for both faculty and staff positions.
  4. Create a position within the NTID Diversity Office to support staff recruitment efforts throughout the NTID organization.
  5. Work with the RIT Department of Human Resources to develop career ladders for more staff categories to create clear pathways for ALANA staff to advance. 
  6. Increase Randleman Program participants from three to five along with expansion of summer outreach efforts to ALANA interpreters both in person and virtually.
  7. Work with RIT to address the issue of Minority Tax raised by ALANA faculty and staff to ensure they receive support and recognition for doing this additional work.
  8. Continue to provide financial support to NTID lecturers pursuing terminal degrees who are interested in moving towards tenure track positions within the college.
  9. In consultation with the RIT Human Resources Department, review hiring process and practices to ensure that progress towards the 2025 ALANA faculty and staff goal is being made. Reaffirm importance of NTID faculty and staff applicants’ commitment to serving a diverse student community in the hiring process. See recommendations from the NTID Alumni Association Board, several of which have to do with hiring processes and practices.
  10. Explore expanded partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) through visits by the NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the purpose of establishing relationships that will enable NTID to successfully recruit future faculty and staff from these campuses.
  11. NTID will increase ALANA representation at all levels of administration at the college. Pathways and mentoring will be established to support this effort via collaborative planning with the RIT Office on Diversity and Inclusion and the RIT Department of Human Resources.
  12. 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. This will provide faculty scholars with an opportunity to mentor students who wish to pursue research interests in this area. 
  13. NTID will continue to seek guidance, support and partnerships with national organizations representing the ALANA deaf and hard-of-hearing community.


AALANA student success through increasing persistence and graduation rates

Action Steps
  1. 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.
  2. Create and implement academic access and success pathways that engage AALANA students and their families, beginning in middle school and continued engagement through their degree programs at RIT/NTID. This will include AALANA 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. Learn more about NTID’s transition programming that was initiated in 2019.
  3. Expand NTID’s dual-enrollment program (Project Fast Forward) in partnership with high schools that serve AALANA communities.
  4. Work with RIT to implement requirement that all NTID freshman participate in an anti-racism program as part of first year experience. 
  5. Update curriculum to include courses related to anti-racism 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 AALANA faculty and staff to lead and teach in these efforts.
  6. 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 students.
  7. 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 or retention programs for ASLIE. Explore how NTID can serve and support non-traditional students in the ASLIE program.


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 and staff at NTID to complete as part of their professional development plan for continued growth and development. This training requirement will be a part of NTID faculty and staff plans of work with accountability at all levels for participation.
  2. Continue working with RIT and Public Safety to provide enhanced training on working effectively with deaf 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.
  3. Re-engage NTID community in use of “Safe Space.” This space 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 will also work with the RIT Division of Diversity and Inclusion regarding how to best maximize collaboration and cooperation between the university’s MOSIAC Center and the NTID Safe Space. 
  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.
  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; see additional examples.
  6. RIT has committed to upgrading its bias reporting system as per an announcement 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, and Drs. Jenkins and Johnson are responsible for determining appropriate follow-up actions.
  7. 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.