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December 15, 2002

Grant lets NTID share expertise

From: Democrat and Chronicle, NY - 15 Dec 2002

By Greg Livadas
Democrat and Chronicle

(December 15, 2002) – The National Technical Institute for the Deaf has received more than $1 million to help deaf and hard-of-hearing students have better access in college classrooms throughout the country.

"We are probably the world's experts on access services for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons," said Robert Davila, head of NTID, a college of Rochester Institute of Technology.

"That came from the 35 years of experience we have had here at RIT and now we are in a position to provide technical assistance to other post-secondary programs through our outreach programs."

The grant, from the U.S. Department of Education, will be used to conduct summer institutes with workshops, group discussions and tutorials, focusing on access to instruction for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

"We often assume that just providing an avenue for access is all we need to do, but the fact is that even the best technology cannot keep exact pace with spoken speech," Davila said. "There are also other factors, like lighting visibility, teacher speaking styles and other human idiosyncrasies that affect whether the deaf student will or will not be able to participate fully."

For example, interpreters may finish about seven to 10 seconds after someone has finished speaking. If the instructor asks a question of the class and calls on a student without taking into account that lag time, deaf students will not have the opportunity to respond, said Susan Foster, an NTID professor.

"Another example involves the hard-of-hearing student who depends on speech reading to understand his or her instructor," Foster said.

"The student will miss information when the instructor speaks while writing on the board, or stands near a window where glare or shadows interfere with the student's vision."

Davila said he expects deaf students to be part of the summer workshops to help illustrate their needs.

Follow-up visits will start in September to provide support to the summer institute participants as they use the ideas learned in the workshops.

And versions of workshop materials such as CD-ROMs, videotapes and a Web site are expected in 2004.

About 1,100 students attend or receive support services from NTID, the world's largest technical college for the deaf and hard of hearing.

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Copyright 2002 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.