RIT/NTID to receive $100k grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Funds will be used to research and improve deaf and hard-of-hearing theater goers’ audience experience.

Bailee Strang

RIT/NTID students Serena Rush (psychology major from Silver Spring, Maryland) and Maggie Boyle (interpreting major from Glenwood, New York) perform using ASL and spoken English in the production “Everybody” produced by NTID’s Performing Arts Department.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has been awarded $99,755 Research Grants in the Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support a mixed-methods research study on the availability and effectiveness of access accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals experiencing live theater.

“Based on our own lived experiences and scholarship, we are aware that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals face significant barriers to accessing live theater in spoken English,” said Jill Bradbury, professor and principal investigator for the grant. “Funding from the Research Grants in the Arts program will enable us to transform this knowledge into research that will bring awareness and improvement to deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences' experiences of live theater.”

The research will focus on answering the following questions:

  • What is the prevalence of accessible live theater in spoken English for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences in the United States?
  • What barriers do live theater companies face in providing or increasing accessible performances for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences?
  • How frequently do deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals attend live theater in spoken English and what accessibility methods do they use when
  • attending?
  • How satisfied are deaf and hard-of-hearing live theater patrons with captioning as an accessibility method for experiencing live theater?
  • What are best practices for providing access to live theater in spoken English for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences via captioning?

“Our goal is to provide guidelines to assist theater companies in making decisions about captioning technology and approaches that best support deaf and hard-of-hearing people’s access to live theater in spoken English.”

In total, the NEA will award 18 Research Grants in the Arts for a total of $1,024,755 in funding to support a broad range of research studies that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecosystem or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life.

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news. Visit arts.gov/impact/research to explore more of the NEA’s work in research and analysis, including the agency’s five-year research agenda; in-depth reports and analyses of research topics in the arts; collections of statistics, graphics, and summary results from data-mining about the arts; and more.

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