All posts by Kathy Johncox

Kathy is the editor and writer for Parent News. She is a Communications, Marketing & Multimedia Services Specialist at RIT/NTID.

RIT/NTID students and faculty develop new app to enhance accessibility for museum visitors

Person holding a cell phone with numbers in pink on the screen.

A new app developed by students and faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is making its national debut at an exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.

The app, known as MUSEAI, is a new self-guided tour platform designed to enhance accessibility for all visitors in museums. Visitors use the app by inputting a number that is placed next to the artwork, which will provide them with the information about a specific artwork, including descriptions, historical facts, media (video/audio) with captions and audio descriptions. More.

RIT/NTID hosts award-winning actress Marlee Matlin Dec. 5

light skinned female with long blonde hair wearing gold hoop earrings and black turtleneck sweater.

Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin will be the featured presenter at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf on Thursday, Dec. 5, as part of the college’s Edmund Lyon Memorial Lectureship Series. The event, which is open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. in Panara Theatre, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, on the RIT campus.  

Matlin will present on the topic of addiction and recovery, based on her 2009 book I’ll Scream Later. Her talk is one of several events celebrating the 40th anniversary of RIT/NTID’s Substance and Alcohol Intervention Services for the Deaf. A question-and-answer session will follow Matlin’s remarks.

Matlin won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God in 1987, and to date is the only deaf performer to have won an Academy Award. She has appeared in many popular television series such as Dancing with the StarsSwitched at BirthQuantico and The L Word, among others.

RIT/NTID’s Substance and Alcohol Intervention Services for the Deaf provides drug and alcohol information, education, prevention, intervention and referral services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community residing in the Greater Rochester area and to deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT/NTID.

Named for noted Rochester manufacturer, inventor, humanitarian and philanthropist Edmund Lyon, the Lyon Memorial Lectureship Series brings presenters to campus whose expertise and scholarly contributions stand on the cutting edge of advancement in the education and career success of deaf persons.

Tickets for Matlin’s presentation are $5 and can be purchased through the RIT Box Office. The event is not recommended for children under 13.

RIT named among top ‘green’ colleges by Princeton Review

Three wind turbines stand in front of glass building.

For the ninth consecutive year, Rochester Institute of Technology has been named one of the greenest universities by The Princeton Review. RIT moved up to No. 34 this year out of the 413 schools profiled in "The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2019 Edition." RIT is commended for its fervent focus on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified new construction, RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, and serving as headquarters to the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute. More.

E. Philip Saunders gifts $7.5 million to RIT

stage with man at podium, interpreter to his side, three people sitting in chairs.

At an Oct. 29 celebration at Rochester Institute of Technology, E. Philip Saunders announced a $7.5 million gift to the business college that bears his name. Saunders, president and CEO of Saunders Management Co. and a longtime supporter of RIT, has gifted more than $25 million to the university. The latest transformational gift will be used to help fund a major renovation and expansion of the facilities in Max Lowenthal Hall, home of Saunders College of Business.

The gift will help add much-needed space to the college for innovative research in business disciplines, multidisciplinary student and faculty work, and experiential learning projects. The expansion will include learning laboratories, collaborative student spaces and room for the addition of the hospitality and service innovation programs to Saunders College. Plans are also underway to construct event spaces that will accommodate business conferences and speakers.

In July, majors in hospitality and tourism management and graduate majors in hospitality and tourism management, service leadership and innovation, and human resource development, as well as advanced certificates in organizational learning and service leadership and innovation, transitioned into Saunders College from the College of Engineering Technology. As a result of the transition, the programs contribute to a 10 percent growth in enrollment for Saunders College.

“My love for RIT goes back many years,” said Saunders. “I feel so good about the college. I am pleased that we are going to make another expansion here. This money is going to a good cause and will take Saunders College of Business and move it to the next level.”

RIT President David Munson thanked Saunders for his confidence in RIT’s work and for helping to craft the vision for Saunders College of Business. 

“Phil Saunders has helped set this college on a great path for almost 20 years, and we’re here to celebrate another leap forward for the Saunders College of Business,” said Munson. “Phil’s dedication to RIT and to this college has had a profound effect on our capacity to prepare the business leaders of tomorrow. We are grateful for his confidence in our work at RIT and in the Saunders College of Business, and I would like to call on the entire RIT community to join me in thanking Phil Saunders.”

Dean Jacqueline Mozrall thanked Saunders for his commitment and the impact that he continues to make on the university and its students.

“Saunders College has made significant strides over the past decade,” said Mozrall. “E. Philip Saunders helped initiate this unprecedented period of progress when he placed his trust in us by attaching his name to our business college in 2006. Phil invested in us, but has also committed his time and energy. He is an inspiration to us and this community. His spirit is a driving force in everything we do, and we cherish the active role he takes in helping us to pursue our mission and engage with our students, alumni, faculty and staff. It is truly an honor for us to be part of this amazing college that bears his name.”

In 2006, Saunders’ $13 million gift to the university boosted the visionary plans of RIT’s Saunders College. In 2010, he enhanced his support with an additional $5 million and a challenge to all Saunders College alumni and friends to raise $15 million to support future endeavors.

He also funded the E. Philip Saunders Endowed Business Scholarship, which has supported more than 85 undergraduate students since it was first awarded, and recently created a graduate endowed scholarship to expand graduate student learning and career potential. RIT student Kate Ferguson, a fourth-year finance and international business double major from Dansville, N.Y., and RIT alumna Rebecca Ward ’14 (accounting), ’15 (MBA), a senior accountant at Insero & Co., thanked Saunders and said the scholarship made their educations possible.

Saunders was named RIT’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year and also received the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award in 2005 and the Nathaniel Rochester Society award in 2011.

A trustee emeritus of the university, Saunders created an empire of truck stops known as the TravelCenters of America Inc., which led to a lifetime of diversified interests in energy, auto and truck rental, recreation and tourism, packaged foods, property management, banking and business ventures.

Today, Saunders College enrolls more than 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in programs across RIT global campuses in Rochester, N.Y.; Croatia; Dubai; and China. Saunders College works in partnership with RIT’s entrepreneurial Venture Creations incubator and top-ranked Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s world-leading technical and creative programs. With more than 25,000 alumni worldwide, Saunders College offers undergraduate, master’s, Master of Business Administration, and Executive MBA programs where students gain real-world business experiences through a tradition of applied learning, internships and capstone programs.

Saunders College’s online Executive MBA program was named the top online Executive MBA program in the country and in the top 10 online MBA programs in the nation by Poets&Quants, a leading resource for coverage of graduate business education. Saunders College undergraduate programs were recently ranked No. 66 in the nation in the 2020 edition of U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges, making it the top undergraduate business program in western New York.

This gift is another contribution to Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness, a $1 billion university fundraising effort.

De’VIA exhibition reception open to the public

multicolor strands coming from outlined hands with blue and black background.

The Rochester Memorial Art Gallery’s reception and opening of the “De’VIA: Manifesto Comes of Age” exhibition takes place 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Avenue, Rochester, NY.

A limited number of tickets are available for community members to purchase at $35 each. Registrants for the Articulating Deaf Experiences conference may attend as part of their registration,

Featured will be work by the genre’s precursors, founders, and artists whose work, while they may not specifically identify with De’VIA, reflect the movement’s enduring influence. The exhibition draws principally from the permanent collection of RIT’s Dyer Arts Center. MAG is honored to celebrate De’VIA’s significance during the movement’s 30th anniversary.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at this link. Don’t miss this opportunity to be among the first to see “De’VIA: The Manifesto Comes of Age.”


RIT/NTID Career Fair to bring record number of employers to campus to recruit deaf and hard-of-hearing students

RIT/NTID students meet with employers at Career Fair.

Representatives from more than 50 local and national corporations, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations looking to diversify their workforce will meet with hundreds of deaf and hard-of-hearing students—who also are prospective employees—at the 19th annual RIT/NTID Career Fair on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Rochester Institute of Technology. Companies and government agencies, including Apple, Microsoft, Draft Kings, Merck, IBM, Texas Instruments and the New York State Unified Court System 7th Judicial District, are participating in this year’s career fair. More than half of the companies will bring their employees who are RIT/NTID alumni back to campus serving as recruiters and role models for deaf and hard-of-hearing student job seekers. More.

Screening of “Moonlight Sonata” during Brick City Homecoming

dark blue background with image to resemble piano keys with outline of young boy and older man.

A new documentary by Oscar-nominated, Peabody and multiple Emmy winning director and former RIT Trustee Irene Taylor Brodsky, "Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements," features Brodsky's deaf son and her parents, RIT/NTID retirees Paul and Sally Taylor. The film will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in RIT/NTID's Panara Theatre, as part of Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend. The screening is free, but seating is limited to first-come, first-served attendees. Paul and Sally Taylor, along with Irene and her son, will be in attendance and will be available for a question-and-answer session at the end of the film.

To learn more about "Moonlight Sonata” and nationwide screening venues please check out

North Korea’s nuclear armament and the use of technology to improve society are topics of Oct. 18 symposium at RIT

text reads Former Special Envoy to North Korea Joseph DeTrani, with image of light skinned male wearing suit and maroon tie.

“Nuclear Weapons in North Korea: Deal or No Deal?”, a discussion of North Korea’s nuclear armament and the role that technology plays in improving society, will be hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology as part of its Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend. The symposium, free and open to the public, will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, in RIT’s Louise Slaughter Hall, room 2220.

The discussion, which concludes with an audience question-and-answer session, will analyze motivations for the North Korean government’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and provide a reflection of the world’s everyday efforts to improve technology for the betterment of society.

Panelists include former Special Envoy to North Korea Joseph DeTrani, who also is a retired U.S. ambassador and professor in the Department of Defense and Strategic Solutions at Missouri State University; Stephen Noerper, senior director for policy and education at the Korea Society, and a professor at Columbia University; and Terence Roehrig, a professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, and director of the Asian-Pacific Studies Group. The symposium will be moderated by Ellen Granberg, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

“The nuclear challenge casts an important question on the relationship between technology and humanity,” said Dongryul Kim, associate professor of political science in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts and an expert in the politics of East Asia and international relations. “North Korea has invested heavily in its nuclear capabilities while hundreds of thousands of its citizens face food shortages, leaving many to die of starvation. This symposium will address potential motivations of North Korea for its nuclear development and thereby give us a chance to consider how well we are responding to the North Korean challenges to both our humanitarian concerns and the world nuclear non-proliferation regime under the U.S. leadership.”

To register for the symposium, which is co-hosted by RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and College of Liberal Arts, go to

Student Spotlight: Making discoveries abroad with NTID

Two images of light-skinned female with glasses and long hair in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Looking to learn more about the roots of American deaf culture, fourth-year student Grace Bradford went on a study abroad trip to France. From June 24 to July 4, the ASL/English interpretation and School of Individualized Study (SOIS) double major traveled with other NTID students to Paris, Reims, La Balme-les-Grottes and Lyon.

During the trip and the accompanying spring semester course, Bradford and her peers learned more about French deaf studies, deaf communities and culture. Additionally, they learned Langue des Signes Française (LSF) so the students could communicate with their French peers in their native sign language during the trip.

Bradford’s SOIS concentrations are in history, museum studies and environmental sustainability, and she hopes to apply her skills as an interpreter in a national park or museum setting. Outside of her studies, Bradford is involved with Hands of Fire (a deaf chapter of RIT CRU), the RITPagan club, the Outing club and SVP (freshman orientation for NTID students). She also works part time for REI, and works with RIT Catering and RIT’s Department of Access Services as an interpreter and notetaker.

To learn more about the NTID study abroad programs, go to For more information about other study abroad opportunities, go to

Question: Why are you interested in pursuing a career in ASL interpretation?

Answer: This is a question that deaf people will often ask interpreting students and I can never give an eloquent answer. I have nothing better to say, than it’s a calling. I graduated from high school in East Tennessee and later moved to Indiana, and in both places I had exposure to the deaf community. Through those experiences, I just fell in love with the culture and the language, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do. Since I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to be a combat medic in the U.S. Army and that I wanted to be an interpreter, and here I am doing both. I got out of the Army in 2014, so the events didn’t quite happen in the sequence I wanted it to, but I am still fulfilling my dreams.

Why were you interested in going on this particular NTID study abroad experience?

A little-known fact about American deaf culture is that it actually has its roots in France. Thomas Gallaudet worked closely with a man named Laurent Clerc when he went over to France. Clerc came back with Gallaudet to the U.S. and helped him set up the first deaf school. So, a lot of our linguistic features, at least in the beginning stages, had strong echoes of French Sign Language (LSF). This trip was a great opportunity to see where American deaf culture and its roots come from. We had the opportunity to get a tour of the first deaf school in the world, we saw the boyhood home of Laurent Clerc, and a lot of other sites that are incredibly historically significant to deaf culture. With my background in history, I was really nerding out.

Tell us about the class that you took that accompanied your study abroad.

We briefly discussed major tipping points in French history, such as the Revolution, as well as some prominent French deaf figures. We also took time to learn LSF before going on the trip. While there are minor similarities, LSF and ASL are two completely different languages, so it wasn’t necessarily easy to pick up the second language. I would equate it to learning Spanish as an English speaker. Once you’re over there for a couple weeks, you start getting the hang of it and you can have basic conversations. I’m definitely not fluent, but now I know basic phrases to communicate with when I go back.

What was your favorite part about this study abroad experience?

Academically, I think, because I have a linguistic nerdy mind, my favorite part was learning LSF. We didn’t have the time to get too deep into it, but I really cherish learning other languages. If it were possible, I would learn them all. Anytime I travel I just have so much fun learning different phrases and communicating with the locals.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m not entirely sure, life always has its curve balls. I reckon I’ll probably stay here for a few years and get some interpreting experience under my belt because this is such an amazing place to be for that. Then, when I am ready, I would like to do an internship at Yosemite National Park and get my ranger certification. I’m really interested in making national parks more accessible for everyone, and right now access services are lacking for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. So, hopefully after Yosemite, I’ll move on and be able to set up full-time access services within the National Park Service.