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February 16, 2003

NTID sends its message to TV

From: Democrat and Chronicle, NY - 16 Feb 2003

30-second spots tell viewers about issues that touch the deaf

By Greg Livadas
Democrat and Chronicle

(February 16, 2003) — Public service announcements designed to educate people about their deaf and hard-of-hearing neighbors are about to be sent to hundreds of television stations around the country.

Created and produced by staff at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the three 30-second announcements have different messages.

One explains how to communicate with a deaf person; another tells of career possibilities for sign language interpreters; and the third educates employers about technical skills a deaf person may possess.

“Part of our mission is to prepare our students to live and work in the mainstream,” said NTID spokeswoman Karen Black.

Black envisioned the announcements when she joined the college four years ago.

They were produced within the past couple of months, using mostly NTID employees and students.

About 400 copies will be sent to television stations in 12 states in areas identified as having large deaf populations.

Donna Gustina, an associate professor of American Sign Language at NTID, is featured in one of the announcements. Gustina, who is deaf, explains that you should look directly at a deaf or hard-of-hearing person when talking with them, and you should feel free to write your message on paper if necessary.

“When I’m meeting people, there’s always this fear,” said Gustina, of Perinton. “People really want to do the right thing.”

Several locations -- including a hospital, a bank, a synagogue and a car dealership -- are featured in the announcements, which are open-captioned so that text will appear on the screen automatically.

Black said the announcement extolling the virtues of interpreting as a career is meant to address a national shortage in that field. NTID offers bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in interpreting.

Though the unsolicited tapes are being sent free, the stations aren’t required to show them.

Arnold Klinsky, vice president and general manager of WHEC-TV (Channel 10), said television stations have no shortage of public service announcements to choose from. He prefers to air those with local relevance, he said.

“As a TV station, we have an obligation to serve the community.”

And those with broader appeal -- as opposed to those appearing as veiled advertisements -- are more likely to be aired.

Even if the one message is conveyed, Black hopes the project will be worth the effort to educate.

“Sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable approaching a person that you don’t think you can communicate with,” Black said.

“But it’s a lot easier than you think.”

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Copyright 2003 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.