NTID Research Center on Culture and Language

Mission

The mission of the NTID Research Center on Culture and Language (CCL) is to promote access and education through research, development, and mentorship related to cultural and linguistic characteristics and processes of deaf and hard of hearing communities.

Vision

To create an accessible world where deaf/hard-of-hearing people live, learn and thrive with equal footing in different communities and environments.

Values

  • Deaf & Sign Language Centered
  • Research & Development
  • Mentorship & Collaboration
  • Diversity & Inclusion
Photo of woman in lab coat sitting at a desk, holding a clipboard.

Research Laboratories

This Deaf and sign language centered place for research and development values mentorship and collaboration. The Center has several mentorship programs to broaden the participation of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in STEM fields. CCL globally disseminates the Center’s discoveries to foster a transformative impact on deaf people’s lives. CCL operates five research laboratories and three research education programs.

Deaf Studies Laboratory (DSL)

Joseph Hill, Ph.D., director
The Deaf Studies Laboratory, established in 2003 by CCL’s director, is the original laboratory that eventually evolved into CCL. DSL’s research mission is to study variation in, perception of, and ideology surrounding the linguistic, social and historical aspects of sign language communities.

During FY 2021, DSL lab personnel worked on two projects:

NTID Scholarship Portfolio Development Initiative (SPDI)
1/2/2017–12/31/2020
PI: Joseph Hill

This project explores language attitudes toward different dialects in American Sign Language. In the fall of 2020, Hill and his graduate assistant supervised the team of student employees working on the second set of 5 videos with animated signing avatars. This set completed the goal of having two different sets of animation videos for the language attitude study planned in the fall of 2021. On November 20, 2020 at the RIT’s Frameless Labs Symposium, the graduate assistant, Youmee Lee, and the student worker, Andrew Smith, gave a presentation along with Hill on the challenge of preserving captured sign language data in human avatar models.

NTID Scholarship Portfolio Development Initiative (SPDI)
7/1/2018–8/30/2021
PI: Corrine Occhino
Co-PI: Joseph Hill

The goal of this project is to collect recordings of 100 students of varying regional, racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds to create a preliminary database of individual linguistic variation in ASL. The objectives of this study are to: 1) describe the natural variation of ASL signers with diverse backgrounds; 2) evaluate ASL users’ perceptions of non-standard varieties; and 3) develop a framework and preliminary data for a proposal to the National Science Foundation that will further explore the role of variation in educational and interpreting situations involving deaf individuals. Occhino and Hill submitted their National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant application in June 2020 requesting funds for the development of a web application that is designed to collect and manage crowdsourced signing variation contributed by the website users. In January 2021, their grant application was not selected but encouraged to apply again. From March 2021 to August 2021, a team of developers from the NTID’s Technology and Information Services developed a website prototype to explore functions and applications. The website prototype will be used as an example in grant applications to foundations and as a guidance for the next round of website development. Student employees organized and coded signed items with the data management application as an electronic dictionary reference, SooSL

Deaf Health Laboratory (DHL)

Tiffany Panko, ’08, ’08, MD, MBA, director
The Deaf Health Laboratory was established by Jess Cuculick in 2016. The DHL’s mission is to promote 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.

During FY 2021, lab personnel worked on the scopes of work specified in four projects, two funded by the NIH, in collaboration with multiple institutes:

National Institutes of Health: 1R01DC014703
9/17/2015–8/31/2022
Subaward from University of Michigan
PI: Peter C. Hauser

This project investigates the mechanisms of health literacy among deaf people, focusing particularly on how deaf people navigate and use websites to obtain health-related information. During FY 2021, the project team completed its collaborative data collection with sites in Michigan and Illinois. A total of 900 deaf and hearing adults were tested for 90 minutes with a battery of cognitive, learning, and health literacy measures along with behavioral and eye-tracking data on their website navigation practices in search for health information. A sample of 60 participants were tested in a second session that involved semi-structured qualitative interviews, more eye-tracking navigation data, and post-performance cognitive interviews.

National Institutes of Health
6/1/2021—5/31/2022
PI: Jessica Cuculick ’98, ’02 
Co-PI: Tiffany Panko

This project is investigating deaf and hard-of-hearing women’s peri-, neo- and post-natal experiences. During FY 2019, the final data collection was completed, and video data was being transcribed. The qualitative data has been analyzed for common themes these deaf women experienced and manuscripts are in development for publication.

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
09/20/2020—09/29/2021
PI: Jessica Cuculick ’98, ’02
Co-PI: Tiffany Panko

The goal of this project is to examine the feasibility of a program providing parenting support groups for parents of different types of disabilities. The RIT sub-contract team focused on provision and evaluation of support groups of deaf and hard of hearing parents.

NTID Scholarship Portfolio Development Initiative
09/01/2020—08/31/2022
Society of Family Planning
01/01/2021—12/31/2022
PI: Tiffany Panko
Co-PI: Corrine Occhino
Mentor: Jess Cuculick

The goal of this project is to gather national data on the reproductive behaviors and healthcare system use of deaf and hard-of-hearing women as well as qualitative data through socio-linguistics interviews. During FY 2021, the national survey was developed and is in circulation, and the interviews have begun.

Language Acquisition and Assessment Laboratory (LAA)

Peter C. Hauser, Ph.D., director
The research mission of CCL’s Sign Language Acquisition and Assessment Laboratory is to understand how different individuals learn a signed language and to create theory-based sign language proficiency with evidence of psychometric validity and reliability. During FY 2021, with support from the Office of the NTID President, this laboratory completed the development and testing of two new ASL receptive proficiency tests to be used to document faculty sign language development and skills. The ASL Online Vocabulary Exam (ASL-OVE) and the Fingerspelling and Number Comprehension Test (FaNCT) can be administered online and remotely. The ASL-OVE is an excellent to document progress in ASL development through repeated testing every 6 months. The FaNCT is better suited for those with functional ASL skills as it can identify those with advanced skills as well as document process over time. These tests were created in collaboration with the NTID developers and will be adopted and operated by the NTID ASL Teaching and Evaluation (ASLTE) for faculty testing. Peer review manuscripts for these tests are currently in preparation.

XR Accessibility Solutions Laboratory (XR-ASL)

Wendy Dannels ’98, ’99, ’00, ’05, director
XR-ASL develops real-time, immersive, and interactive technologies such as mixed, augmented, and virtual reality with a focus on accessible and inclusive experiences. Wendy Dannels mentored two students giving video presentation at the undergraduate student research symposium on this project titled, “Viewing Sign Language Interpreted Content Through Smart Glasses” and ““A Hard of Hearing Developers Perspective on Capturing ASL with a Hololens 2”.

During FY 2021, the XR-ASL laboratory focused on the scope of work of the following grant:

National Science Foundation: DRL-1811509
9/1/2018–8/31/2022
PI: Wendy A. Dannels ’98, ’99, ’00, ’05
Co-PIs: Brian Trager ’00, ’05 and Sara Schley

This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program's Pilot and Feasibility Studies which seek new approaches to design and development of STEM learning to be accessible to all learners including underrepresented groups in informal environments. Often Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) learners are excluded from learning STEM topics in science centers and museums. The major goal of this project is to broaden the participation and promote innovation of DHH learners in informal settings. Funding is being used to explore augmented reality (AR) technology to make STEM content accessible especially in live presentations to DHH learners (e.g., Planetarium, Electricity Theater, and Science on a Sphere). This project is developing a wearable displayed technology using advanced AR solution by integrating signed and captioned explanations during live presentation. The funding allowed the hiring of qualified graduate and undergraduate students majoring in software engineering (or equivalent) to assist with the development of the platform for the smart glasses.

American Sign Language for Second Language Learners Research Lab (ASL2Ed)

Jason Listman, ’07, ’09, Ed.D., director
ASL Education for Second Language Learners Research Laboratory (ASL2ED) is a new addition to NTID’s Center on Culture and Language. The mission of ASL2ED is to improve the quality of ASL education for second language learners. The lab is dedicated to studying and understanding how individuals learn a second language (L2) in a signed modality and how to improve sign language pedagogy. Through evidence-based research, ASL2ED aims to bridge the gap between fields of linguistics, interpreting, and second language education by broadening knowledge and diverse perspectives within these fields thereby translating research into practice.

CCL Fund and Honors Program
9/1/2021 – present
PI: Jason Listman
Co-PI; Joseph Hill
Student Investigator: Taylor Harris

This is a student research project by an honor student, Taylor Harris, who aims to explore BIPOC students’ perspective on interpreting education programs. This project is funded by CCL and supervised by Jason Listman and Joseph Hill. The survey was developed and is currently being administered. Data analysis will be completed during FY2021-2022.

CCL Fund and Honors Program
9/1/2021 – present
PI: Jason Listman
Student Investigator: Tadhg Hicken

This is a student research project by an honor student, Tadhg Hicken, who aims to further investigate how Learning Assistants can best promote student success in interpreting courses. Survey data was collected during FY2021 and the data analysis is completed. The next step is to conduct focus group which will happen during FY2021-2022.

Office Associate Dean of Research and CCL
9/1/2021 - present
PI: Jason Listman
Co-PI: Kim Pudans-Smith
Co-PI: John Pirone
Co-PI: Tracy Ivy

This project conducted conduct a series of focus group discussions with ASL experts and a nationwide survey to build a better understanding of the climate of ASL profession concerning pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment. Data collection is completed and the data is currently being transcribed. This FY the data will be analyzed and manuscript will be prepared to submit for publication. This study was funded by the Office Associate Dean of Research.

CCL
9/2020 - present
PI: Jason Listman
Student Investigator: Kira Hart

This project is led by an interpreting student, Kira Hart, that aims to explore what are the common L2 phonological errors in interpreting students as part of her independent research project. During FY 2020, we completed the data collection, and will begin our data analysis during FY2021 – 2022.

NTID Scholarship Portfolio Development Initiative (SPDI)
9/1/2020–8/31/2021
PI: Jason Listman
Co-PI: Geo Kartheiser
Mentor: Matthew Dye

The goal of this project is to examine the relationship between the action observation network (AON) and sign language perception. Due to COVID-19 the project was on hold for a time being. We are currently doing dry-run and hope to begin our data collection data during FY2021-2022.

Mentorship Programs

Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate

There are too few deaf scientists out there, so the University of Rochester (UR) and RIT have developed a partnership to address this gap. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program aims to increase the number of deaf scientists in the biomedical and behavioral science disciplines. The program selects top RIT graduate students who are deaf or hard of hearing and wish to pursue a doctoral degree. The Rochester Bridges Program provides them with unparalleled, mentored research experiences at RIT and UR for two years. These scholars are provided individualized attention from a team of scientists who will mentor them. The scholars will also take three or more doctoral-level courses at UR, and receive research stipends, tuition waivers, and conference travel funds.

deafscientists.com

Broadening the Participation of Deaf Students in Sign Language Research program

With funding from the National Science Foundation, this program provides the top deaf and hard of hearing students from higher education institutions across the United States with mentored opportunities in sign language research. Specifically, this program supports students who are conducting sign language research to attend the Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference, the largest international conference for sign language researchers. The program provides ASL/English interpreters at the conference and opportunities for the selected scholars to network with well-known sign language researchers.

Theoretical Issues in Signed Language Research (TISLR) - Student Mentoring and Travel Award

Publications & Presentations

Selected CCL Publications (CCL Authors in Bold, students Underlined)
    
Dye, T.D., Alcantara, L., Siddiqi, S., Barbosu, M., Sharma, S., Panko, T., & Pressman, E., (Dec 2020). Risk of COVID-19-related bullying, harassment and stigma among healthcare workers: an analytical cross-sectional global study. BMJ open. 1;10(12).

Dye, T.D., Levandowski, B.A., Pérez Ramos, J.G., Siddiqi, S., Hall, W.C., Panko, T., Li, D., Sharma, S., Wiltse, S., Muir, E., Royzer, E., Irvine, C., & Pressman, E., (2020). Adherence to COVID-19 Prevention Strategies among Pregnant People and their Partners. [SMFM abstract]. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2020.

Dye, T.D., Levandowski, B.A., Siddiqi, S., Pérez Ramos, JG., Hall, W,C., Panko, T., Li, D., Sharma, S., Wiltse, S., Irvine, C., Muir, E., Royzer, E., & Pressman, E., (2020). Worldwide COVID-19-related Knowledge, Impact, and Worry in Pregnant People and their Partners. [SMFM abstract]. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

Dye, T., Levandowski, B., Siddiqi, S., Ramos, J.P., Li, D., Sharma, S., Muir, E., Wiltse, S., Royzer, R., Panko, T., & Hall, W., (Jan 2021). Non-medical COVID-19-related personal impact in medical ecological perspective: A global multileveled, mixed method study. medRxiv. 1:2020-12. 

Schönström, K., & Hauser, P. C., (2021). The sentence repetition task as a measure of sign langauge proficiency. Applied Psycholinguistics, 1-19. Doi:10:1017/S0142716421000436

Lee, Y., Hill, J., & Smith, A., (2021). The Challenge of Preserving Captured Sign Language Data in Human Avatar Models. Frameless, 3(1), 4.

Occhino, C., Fisher, J. N., Hill, J. C., Hochgesang, J. A., Shaw, E., & Tamminga, M. (2021). New Trends in ASL Variation Documentation. Sign Language Studies, 21(3), 350–377.

Rotoli, J.M., Hancock, S., Park, C., Demers-Mcletchie, S., Panko, T.L., Halle, T., Wills, J., Scarpino, J., Merrill, J., Cushman, J., & Jones, C., (2021 May 28). Emergency Medical Services Communication Barriers and the Deaf American Sign Language User. Prehospital Emergency Care. 1-3.

Mussallem, A., Panko, T.L., Hill, J., Cuculick, J., & Hauser, P.C., (2020). Double disparity in deaf and hard of hearing college students’ health literacy. [HARC abstract]. Health Literacy Research and Practice.
 
Postl, D., Panko, T.L., Contreras, J., Hauser, P.C., & McKee, M., (2020). Deaf community’s experience of 
COVID-19. [HARC abstract]. Health Literacy Research and Practice. 

Selected CCL Presentations (CCL Authors in Bold, students Underlined)

Chan, B., Dannels, W.A., Kyle, M., & Robinson, C. (2021, July). “Gaming for Access”, TDI 24th Biennial 
Conference, Live Online Community Forum.

Cureaux, M., Contreras, J., Cuculick, J., & Panko, T., (2021). Rochester Bridges to Doctorate: Lessons 
Learned. Texas STEMinar Series. Online Presentation.

Dannels, W.A., Mejia, I., Sharpless, M., Stricken, J., & Urena, Y. (June 2021) “Game Changing: Technology,
Tools, and Supports that Grow with Children and Families”, Early Childhood/Special Education Showcase, Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, 8th Annual ED Games Expo, Live Q/A 

Doane, E., & Wright, J., (2021, July). Deaf LGBT Adults health literacy: possible effect of stigma. 2021 
Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. 

Doane, R., & Panko, T., (2021, July). Language deprivation’s impact on Deaf women’s access to reproductive 
health. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY

Dye, T.D., Levandowski, B.A., Pérez Ramos, JG., Siddiqi, S., Hall, W.C., Panko, T., Li, D., Sharma, S., Wiltse,
S., Muir, E., Royzer, E., Irvine, C., & Pressman, E., (2021, January). Adherence to COVID-19 Prevention 
Strategies among Pregnant People and their Partners. 41st Annual Pregnancy Meeting, Society for Maternal 
Fetal Medicine, Las Vegas, NV. 

Dye, T.D., Levandowski, B.A., Pérez Ramos, JG., Siddiqi, S., Hall, W.C., Panko, T., Li, D., Sharma, S., Wiltse,
S., Muir, E., Royzer, E., Irvine, C., & Pressman, E., (2021, January). Adherence to COVID-19 Prevention 
Strategies among Pregnant People and their Partners. 41st Annual Pregnancy Meeting, Society for Maternal 
Fetal Medicine, Las Vegas, NV. 

Dye, T.D., Levandowski, B,A., Siddiqi, S., Pérez Ramos, J.G., Hall, W.C., Panko, T., Li, D., Sharma, S., 
Wiltse, S., Irvine, C., Muir, E., Royzer, E., & Pressman, E., (2021 January). Worldwide COVID-19-related 
Knowledge, Impact, and Worry in Pregnant People and their Partners. 41st Annual Pregnancy Meeting, 
Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, January 2021, Las Vegas, NV. 

Edwards, I., & Panko, T., (2021, July). Impact of healthcare provider’s perception of patient health literacy. 2021
Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Gray, M., & Hauser, P.C., (2021, July). Executive Function in Deaf Adults and the link to caregiver hearing 
status. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Harris, T., Hill, J., & Listman, J., (2021, July). BIPOC Interpreting Students Perspective on Interpreting Training 
Programs. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Hicken, B., & Listman, J., (2021, July). Students’ perception of learning assistant model in interpreting program 
courses. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Hill, J., & Beers, K., (2020, November 20). Language Attitudes and Policies at Mainstream and Deaf Schools in 
Italy. High Desert Society Linguistics, Albuquerque, NM. 

Hose, T., & Hauser, P.C., (2021, July). Cardiovascular knowledge in the deaf community. 2021 Undergraduate 
Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Kloseler, L., & Contreras, J., (2021, July). Feasibility and Utility of remote support group for deaf parents. 2021 
Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Lee, Y., Smith, A., & Hill, J., (2020, November 20). The Challenge of Preserving Captured Sign Language Data 
in Human Avatar Models. Frameless Labs Symposium, Rochester, New York.

McFadden, T., & Hill, J., (2021, July)., Elucidating BIPOC students’ perspective on navigating the COVID-19 
pandemic. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Mussallem, A., Panko, TL., Hill, J., Cuculick, J., & Hauser, PC., (2020 Oct). Double disparity in deaf and hard of 
hearing college students’ health literacy. Health Literacy in Action and Health Literacy Annual Research 
Conference. Virtual Meeting. Conference Presentation.

Mussallem, A., Panko, T.L., McKee, M., Hill, J., Cuculick, J., & Hauser, P.C., (2020, Nov 9-13). Hidden disparity 
in health literacy among deaf college students. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. 
Virtual Meeting. Conference Poster.

Ocampo-Diaz, K., & Dannels, W., (2021, July). Viewing sign language interpreted content through smart 
glasses. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Occhino, C., & Patterson, S., (2020, November 18). Documenting Individual Variation in ASL. High Desert 
Linguistic Society, Albuquerque, NM. 

Panko, TL., (2020, Nov). Reflecting on the Scalpel as a Deaf Physician Scientist. International Museum of 
Surgical Science. Chicago, IL. Guest Lecture.

Panko, T., (2020, Nov). Reproductive injustice in the deaf community. JusticeNOW2020. Virtual Meeting. 
Conference Presentation.

Panko, T., (2020, April 3-5). Deaf women’s health: A reproductive justice issue? Civil Liberties and Public 
Policy Annual Conference. Hampshire College, Amherst, MA. (Conference canceled.) 

Postl, D., & Panko, T., (2021, July). Deaf women’s contraceptive practices. 2021 Undergraduate Research 
Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Postl, D., Panko, T.L., Contreras, J., Hauser, P.C., & McKee, M., (2020, Oct 9). Deaf community’s experience of
COVID-19. Health Literacy in Action and Health Literacy Annual Research Conference. Virtual Meeting. 
Conference Presentation.

Pudans-Smith, K., Pirone, J., Listman, J. D., & Ivy, T. (July 2021). The Climate of the ASL  Profession: ASL 
Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Assessment. American Sign Language Teachers Association Conference, Virtual 
Conference. 

Sahetapy, S., Panko, T., Champlin, S., Paasche-Orlow, M., Hauser, P.C., & McKee, M., (2020 Nov 9-13). Deaf 
community’s access to internet and eHealth literacy. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority 
Students. Virtual Meeting. Conference Poster.

Tadhg, T., & Listman, J. D., (2021, July). Students Perception of the Learning Assistant Model in Interpreting 
Training Program. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, 
NY. 

Roth, C., & Dannels, W., (2021, July). A hard of hearing developers’ perspective on capturing sign language 
using a Hololens. 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.
 

Center Directors

Portrait of Peter C. Hauser

Peter C. Hauser, Ph.D.

Professor
Center Director

Portrait of Dr Joseph Hill

Joseph Hill, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Associate Director

Center Faculty

Portrait of Tiffany Panko

Tiffany Panko, M.D., M.B.A.

Research Assistant Professor

Center Staff

Portrait of Jessica Contreras

Jessica Contreras, M.S.

Research Program Coordinator

Undergraduate Students

Portrait of Ashley Mussallem

Ashley Mussallem

Portrait of Samara Patterson

Samara Patterson

Portrait of Daphine Postl

Daphine Postl

Portrait of Surya Putra

Surya Putra

Center Structure