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About the Contest

Formerly the National Dalgarno Essay Contest

The SpiRIT Writing Contest owes its existence to an earlier writing competition sponsored at RIT/NTID entitled the National Dalgarno Essay Contest. This competition was established and personally sponsored for ten years by the late Professor Emeritus Edward Scouten, and his wife Eleanor, who shared a passion for English literacy and the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Professor and Mrs. Scouten originally named the essay contest after George Dalgarno, a Scottish school teacher and the inventor of the first sign language alphabet. In 1680, Dalgarno published a book in which he presented many theories about the different ways to teach language to people who were deaf. Among those theories was Dalgarno’s firm belief that deaf children could learn to understand and use written English if given the opportunity. Mr. Scouten, in his many years of teaching English at NTID, based much of his philosophy of teaching on Dalgarno’s original theories of the relationship between English, language and deafness.

Scouten Endowed Internship in English Literacy

Established in 2004, this endowment provides support for an internship with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The purpose of the internship is to provide mentoring in best teaching practices to promote English literacy. Learn more about the Scouten Endowed Internship in English Literacy.